Jazz Aspen Labor Day: Michael Franti to close his summer tour at the festival
IF YOU GO …
Who: Michael Franti and Spearhead
Where: Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, Snowmass Town Park
When: Friday, Aug. 31, 6 p.m.
How much: $109.95
Michael Franti doesn’t have time for hopelessness.
The singer, guitarist, activist and Spearhead bandleader will play the final show of his summer-long Stay Human Tour today at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience.
The tour borrows its name from Franti’s new documentary film, “Stay Human,” which is about people he’s been inspired by around the world who are battling our age of cynicism with hope. It premiered in April at the Asbury Park Music + Film Festival in New Jersey. A wider release has yet to be announced.
“It’s all about the power of optimism in these super challenging and divided times,” Franti said this spring when he announced the film and tour.
Hope has been Franti’s mission in recent years, as he’s kept up his notoriously heavy touring schedule and community action around the globe — performing uplifting songs like “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)” and “The Sound of Sunshine” and doing work on the ground to lift people up.
Aspen has become a hub of the San Francisco native’s musical and activist life.
Last year, during a free Wagner Park concert at the World Cup skiing championship festivities, it was Franti who led a crowd through one of the most memorable communal musical moments in recent Aspen history.
On an unusually warm and mercifully clear winter night, as fireworks exploded over Aspen Mountain behind him, Franti led this adoring crowd of locals and international ski fanatics who’d descended on town from across the globe in a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Without evoking the name of President Donald Trump, Franti’s performance provided a potent rebuke of nativist policies and a clarion call for unity of this global community.
While performing in Aspen on what’s often a seasonal basis, Franti has volunteered with the Buddy Program and led yoga classes with the Aspen Yoga Society. When he launched his wish-giving nonprofit Do It For the Love in 2013, he did so with an Aspen event. And, of course, he’s played several times on the main stage at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, where Franti and Spearhead return to open the festival this evening, opening for Lionel Richie.
Franti has connected with the community here, he said, because of the people’s close relationship with the natural world.
“I’ve been a lot of places in the world, and it’s one of the most beautiful places,” Franti said before the World Cup show. “I feel like no matter who you are, no matter what your political situation is, people cannot help but be moved by the natural beauty. That makes Colorado a unique place. And Coloradans have a spirit of having the land they’re stewarding be there for generations. I think that changes people.”
And, of course, the notoriously committed music lovers here have a special place in his heart.
“Nowhere else in the world do people say, ‘Hey, let’s hop in the car and go to a concert,’ and that’s a four-hour ride,” he said with a laugh. “It’s the best music fans in the world.”
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