Michael Franti & Spearhead are bringing their multi-genre sound back to the DMV area for a performance at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, August 24. It will be the fifth stop of the band’s “Good Day for a Good Day” world tour, which has the same name as their newest single released this month.
This isn’t the band’s first time playing at the historic venue. Lead vocalist Michael Franti recalls his first time performing at Wolf Trap as one filled with close interactions with fans and sliding on the mud in the rain.
“I just remember that feeling of elation,” Franti says. “And that’s really what I miss the most about having done music virtually for the last year and a half. That sense of being in the moment, and that euphoria that occurs being able to do simple things like high five a stranger at a concert because you’re hearing the same music that you know you both love.”
Once Covid-19 indefinitely halted the band’s tour plans last year, Franti turned to virtual performances and interacting more on social media to maintain connections with fans. While his music has always been about creating a human connection, the message holds a deeper meaning after living through a pandemic. Franti lost his father to the virus. Being unable to reunite with the rest of the family afterward made the process especially difficult.
“When my dad died, our family was not able to celebrate his life together, we had to do it via Zoom,” he says. “That really made me think about how important it is to have human connection.”
While the past year has been difficult for him, Franti hasn’t lost sight of the good that’s come out of the darkness. He says he’s been able to strengthen his relationships with others, including with his wife. He’s also been able to spend more time with his young son.
“I have been somebody who, for the last 30 years has toured six months of the year, and for the last year and a half, I was really there with my kid. Now, we roast marshmallows at night and pick tomatoes from the garden and we look for frogs and find a stick every night to drag through the mud. There’s been a lot of joy in the regard.”
As the band prepares for the next few months on tour, their focus remains on reconnecting with audiences through their music and messages of unity and kindness.
“That’s really what we’re excited about now, to be able to create that community feeling and those good vibes and people coming together to just shake off what has gone on during the last year and a half,” Franti says. “That’s why I make music because I believe it can bring ease of heart to people during challenging times and help people to find the resilience that’s necessary to get through.”
For Franti, connecting with others isn’t limited to music. He is an activist involved with numerous causes, like speaking against gun violence and addressing the climate crisis. He and his wife also have a nonprofit called Do It For the Love, which brings people with advanced stages of life-threatening illnesses to his live concerts. The experience allows them to temporarily disconnect from the challenges of their day-to-day lives.
Franti’s podcast, “Stay Human,” highlights a different individual using their creative art or activism to make a difference in the world each week. He started the podcast because he wanted to inspire people to listen and take in others’ stories while having the courage to authentically share their own. The slogan for the podcast states, “There’s no one you wouldn’t love if you knew their story,” which Franti fully stands by.
“I found that to be true,” Franti says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s someone who you randomly meet on the street and you just start talking to them, or whether it’s somebody who’s famous and you didn’t know where they came from. It’s really interesting to hear about how they’ve evolved.”
Franti’s willingness to speak up about the world’s issues and inequalities transcend through each of his many endeavors. As he prepares to once again share his music with the world in person, the message behind it all remains clear.
“I’ve always believed that people should be treated with the same respect and dignity not because everybody is special, but because you’re human and we’re all human and that should be enough.”
Michael Franti & Spearhead’s discography is available on various streaming platforms. On Tuesday, August 24, they will be performing alongside Trombone Shorty at Wolf Trap Farm. Tickets are available at wolftrap.org.