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Taken from The StarPhoenix (June 23, 2012)

Positivity reigns at SaskTel jazz festival

by Stephanie McKay, The StarPhoenix

Michael FrantiCalifornia's Michael Franti kicked off the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival on Friday night with a concert that was part reggae beach party, part gospel revival, part hip hop freestyle. And people have never been on their feet faster.

Franti, immediately recognizable for his long dreadlocks and bare feet, has been through Saskatoon before as the opening act for John Mayer and Santana but this is his first headlining performance in the city. Along with his four-piece band Spearhead, the musician began the night with the song Everyone Deserves Music. It was just a taste of the positivity and happiness that filled the outdoor show on the perfect summer night.

Franti blends elements of hip hop, reggae, funk and rock and had no trouble prompting audience members to get out of their lawn chairs and wave their arms with abandon. There's just something about the man that makes you feel good.

Part of that probably has to do with the fact that Franti knows how to engage an audience. During the hour and a half show, he both ventured into the crowd and invited fans (including a contingent of bouncing children) on stage.

Highlights included The Sound of Sunshine (cue the beach balls) from his 2010 album of the same name and a rousing encore of Say Hey (I Love You). Honourable mention goes to a bluegrass-tinged performance of Sweet Little Lies that morphed for a bit into Steve Miller's The Joker.

Wil Campa Y Su Gran Union opened the show. If the Cuban rhythms weren't enough to motivate the crowd, the band's choreographed dance moves sure did the trick.

Campa, the band's leader and occasional brass player, doesn't speak much English but the music translated beautifully.


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