SpearHeadBand, BandMembers ...

Actual and past members of Michael Franti & Spearhead


Raliegh J. Neal, II - Keyboards / Vocals (2006 - 2015)

Taken from Michael Franti (Sep 11, 2010)

At 4 years old Raliegh Neal, II learned to play and sing "Proud Mary" on a baritone Ukulele. At the age of 5 he performed for his kindergarten class. It all seemed natural for him. He formed a jazz Quartet in 11th grade called Moment's Notice named after the John Coltrane classic. While in High School the band "gigged" professionally and participated in many jazz band competitions. Later Raliegh auditioned and was accepted to the University of Miami's school of music. Raliegh moved to New York City in 1991 and truly discovered the power of music and the arts in direct Community service. He became the Music Director for the CityKids Repertory Company where he implemented a music composition course for beginners and an audio engineering class for more experienced youth composers.


Jolene Rust - Vocals (2009 - 2012)

Taken from Michael Franti (Sep 11, 2010)

I have been singing for as long as I can remember, whether it was along with the radio on long road trips, singing opera at age 5 in the bathroom, the church choir, years and years of talent shows, or performing the national anthem at countless sport games. My love for music has always played an integral part in my life. I grew up on the California coast in Monterey, just north of Big Sur. Being born and raised in such an incredibly beautiful environment ingrained the deepest love within me for nature and the outdoors. I started playing the piano at age 6, but after a couple of years moved on to musical theater and dance.

In high school I got my first guitar, and after I graduated I attended Cal Poly to study Theater and Dance.


Dave Shul - Guitar (1998 - 2011)

Taken from Michael Franti (Sep 11, 2010)

I'm Dave Shul I hope all is well in cyberspace. I play guitar in Spearhead. I've been involved in the Bay Area music scene for about 20 years and joined Spearhead in April of 1998. My favorite part of being in Spearhead is traveling and meeting local folks, because I don't usually get to see a lot of the sites as we are moving from place to place so quickly.

I first started playing guitar at age 12. My older brother had a guitar and I used to sneak into his room and play it, because every time I'd ask him for a lesson he'd bop me on the nose and say, "get outta here you ...!" At age 13 I went to Cazadero Music camp at the Russian River in northern California. Among the teachers were Bobby McFerrin, Eddy Marshall, and John Santos.


Cherine Anderson - Vocals (2008 - 2010)

Taken from Cherine-TV (Apr 27, 2016)

"Making music is like food to my soul. It make me feel good, it's powerful, it heals...I hope people feel inspired when they experience my music too."

Cherine Anderson is one of Jamaica's leading young female singer/songwriters, actress and performers. Her genre defying grooves coupled with her powerful voice and thought provoking lyrics has brought her in front of well over 1,000,000 live audience fans, in places such as Jamaica, Europe, Canada, Australia and the USA.


Anthony Robustelli - Keyboards (2004 - 2006)

Taken from www.anthonyrobustelli.com (Apr 26, 2016)

Anthony Robustelli is the epitome of a born musician. Though his primary instrument is keyboards, he is truly a multi-instrumentalist. Anthony is also a prolific writer who has four prior albums to his credit, Another Fatal Blow, Grown Tired of the Con, Comfort is so Rare and a six-movement straight-ahead jazz suite, entitled Travels of a Lost Soul. The music from Travels was featured in the film "Get Famous" along with songs from jazz great Gary Bartz. He also co-wrote the score for the critically acclaimed independent film "Hitman's Handbook" the award-winning PBS documentary "Off the Curb" , penned the theme song to the 2012 documentary "Naked Brand" , and played keyboards on the Spearhead LP Yell Fire.


Roberto Quintana - Percussions (2003 - 2006)

Taken from LinkedIn-Profile (May 02, 2016)

Roberto Quintana is ...


Radioactive - Vocals / Beat Box (2000 - 2004)

Taken from MC RADIOACTIVE | Flowerbox (Apr 28, 2016)

Originating from Boston, MA, Radio Active embodies the essence of hip hop. He is an emcee, beatboxer, writer, painter, and b-boy. He plays musical instruments, incorporates electronic beats with his beatbox and commands active audience participation during his fresh, soulful original live performances.

Innovative to the industry, Radio Active brings hip hop into other genres, a true crossover artist. An electrifying performer, Radio Active has toured extensively the past years throughout North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan as a member of the politically charged musical group Michael Franti & Spearhead to audiences in theaters and festivals upwards of 100,000 people ...


Bob Crawford - Keyboards (2001 - 2003)

Taken from Bob Crawford Music - Biography (Apr 28, 2016)

The Bay Area's Bob Crawford is a pianist/keyboardist who finds home in a wide range of different musical styles. He's had experience in everything from jazz to afrobeat, salsa, samba, funk, hip hop, rock, and more.

Although he had little formal musical education, Bob proved to be a quick study with the afro-cuban montuno piano style, and found himself playing in a great local latin funk band called Los Angelitos throughout the early '90s . The band won several Bay Area music awards and played to packed houses, including The Warfield, The Filmore, Slims, and the Great American Music Hall. In addition, the band's music was featured on the national TV show Nash Bridges, including one of Bob's compositions. Clearly, he was on his way.


Goapale - Vocals (2000 - 2001)

Taken from Billboard (Apr 28, 2016)

Born Goapele Mohlabane in Oakland, CA, this singer grew up in a socially conscious and politically active family. Her mother married South African political exile Douglas Mohlabane while studying in Nairobi, Kenya. At an early age, Goapele attended the Berkeley Arts Magnet School where she led a pre-teen peer support group. She also became involved in various groups and organizations that combated racism and sexism. It would be these extroverted activities that assisted her singing career as she would also sing at community functions.


Charlie Hunter - Guitar (1992 - 1994)

Taken from Guitar Casa (February 14, 2014)

An Inspiration for Anyone Inspired to Play Jazz on an 8 String Guitar

Although most 8 string guitar playing is associated with the genre of metal, the Charlie Hunter guitar style proves that this guitar has an iconic place in jazz. Over the course of about 20 years, Hunter has proven that he is a skilled musician capable of magic on the eight string guitar.

Early Years

Charlie Hunter was born on May 23rd, 1967 in Rhode Island, but moved to Berkeley, California with his family at the age of four...

... He went on to attend Berkeley High School and, just like Steve Vai, began to take guitar lessons from Joe Satriani.

Surprisingly, Hunter was actually not accepted to play in the Berkeley High jazz band but that didn't stop his musical journey. Despite having the desire to get into several musical programs after high school, Hunter has stated that he did not have the grades or the money to do so. Instead, Hunter took a high school friend up on an offer to go and live in Paris for a month. Because the offer only stood for a month, Hunter was forced to live on the streets and in the subway for a time and made ends meat by busking for 8 to 12 hours a day - this was a period that Hunter refers to as "on the job training." It forced him to play on the streets and to try and grab people's attention whenever possible. This created an intensity in his playing that can only come from the real-life lessons that schools cannot teach. Ironically, none of the music Hunter played on the streets included jazz because it did not make any money for street musicians - once the singing stopped, so did the tips. Also, because Hunter was the new guy in town, he was relegated to playing the bass because no one else wanted to at that point.

Hard Work Pays Off

After returning from Paris, Charlie Hunter found his way into Michael Franti's band called The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy where he played the 7 string guitar. Shortly thereafter, this group was featured as an opening act for U2's Zoo TV Tour. In 1993, Hunter released his debut album called Charlie Hunter Trio. As the name implies, the group featured 3 musicians: of course, Charlie played the guitar, but he was joined by Jay Lane on the drums and John Ellis on the saxophone. Never one to be content, Hunter has had a prolific career as both a band leader and contributor to other band leaders' projects. Some of the projects that Hunter founded include the following: Charlie Hunter Trio (1993), Bing, Bing, Bing! (1995), Ready...Set...Shango! (1996), Natty Dread (1997), Return of the Candyman (1998), Duo (1999), Charlie Hunter (2000), Solo Eight-String Guitar (2000), Songs from the Analog Playground (2001), Right Now Move (2003), Friends Seen and Unseen (2004), Steady Groovin' (2005), Copperpolis (2006), Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid (2009), Public Domain (2010), and Now Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead (2012). Now that's quite the list of projects - don't expect him to take a break anytime soon!

In addition to his own projects, he has been featured on the following albums: Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury (1992), Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales (1993), T.J. Kirk (1994), If Four Was One (1996), All Kooked Out! (1998), Mysteryfunk (1999), Voodoo (200), Emphasizer (2003), Come in Red Dog (2003), Latitude (2004), Longitude (2005), Outre Mer (2005), Earth Tones (2005), Talking Only Makes it Worse (2005), The Coalition of the Willing (2006), Live at Tonic (2006), Copperopolis (2006), Mistico (2007), Altitude (2007), Continuum (2007), Baboon Strength (2008), Fade (2008), Go Home (2009), Not Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead (2012), Channel Orange (2012), Pucker (2013).

Praise for Charlie Hunter

With his incredible guitar skills, it should come as no surprise that he has received some incredible praise:

- Allmusic music critic Sean Westergaard wrote that his playing is "mind-boggling" and that he is an "agile improviser with an ear for great tone" who strives to "make great music, not show off."

- Adam Joseph with the Monterey County Weekly had this to say: "Hunter plays custom-made seven - and eight-string guitars that enable him to simultaneously rock the rhythm, bassline and lead; he's released more than 20 records and is considered by jazz critics to be one of the most technically fluent modern-day jazz guitarists working."

- Richard Scheinin with Mercury News stated the following about Hunter: "Hunter has stitched what sounds like a half-forgotten '30s pop tune into the middle of his composition. He has a puzzle brain; it all works." "Spinning new melodies throughout his white-hot and twisty solo, Hunter turned an unexpected corner - and Amendola hit one of his bullet-rhythm rimshots (Tito Puente!) at the precise instant that Hunter made his turn. What can you say? After two decades, these two are telepathic, into one another's moves." "This was a very boiled down performance by the guitarist, except for one short stretch when he wound up improvising what seemed like half a dozen melodic lines in counterpoint. That puzzle brain, again."

- Doug Collette review in GlideMagazine.com: "Charlie Hunter has certainly proved he's his own man during the course of a career that's found him working as parts of solos, duos, quartets, quintets and larger ensembles both as frontman/bandleader and collaborative participant. He is comfortable with himself to the extent his self-description as a 'boutique' artist sounds both pragmatic and proud."

- Jim Fussili review in The Wall Street Journal: "Earlier in his solo career, when he was signed to Blue Note, Mr. Hunter played bass on the top strings and chords on the bottom of a curiously tuned eight-string guitar, using effects pedals and an amplifier he cobbled together to approximate the output of an electric organ. A sly wit and facility rather than flash became the hallmarks of his style, and there was a quiet wizardry at work in his bands' unison playing and how well he supported their saxophones. At times, Mr. Hunter faded into the background on his own satisfying recordings."

Charlie Hunter Guitar Playing in Action!

Charlie Hunter performing, "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" on the eight string!

Covering Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 was 9"!

Charlie Hunter guitar style on the 8 string guitar - bass, rhythm, and lead all at once!

Charlie Hunter demonstrating blues guitar on a 7 string!

For more information on Charlie Hunter such as tour dates and relevant news, be sure to check out his official site at www.charliehunter.com.

Check out the other 7 and 8 string guitar pages on this site if the Charlie Hunter guitar story has inspired you to learn more about these unique guitars!


... to be continued ...