Music has the power to effect change – inner change and social change. The lineup for this Saturday’s San Geronimo Day (Sept. 30) concert in Kit Carson Park is proof. All the artists who take the stage use music as a means to touch hearts and inspire minds to create a better world.
AMP Concerts and Roots & Wires bring Michael Franti & Spearhead and the “Love Out Loud” tour to Kit Carson Park, 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in Taos. The show opens at 5 p.m. with hip-hop artist Supaman, followed by Jamaican reggae stars The Wailers.
An after-party with Santa Fe-based reggae band Innastate is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. or so, right after Franti is done in the park. This show will be at Taos Mesa Brewing’s downtown Taos Tap Room at 201 Paseo del Pueblo Sur.
“Jamie and Neal with AMP Concerts have done an outstanding job of bringing the right bands to Taos at the right time,” commented Roots & Wires’ John Henderson. “They have packed Kit Carson Park with a diversity of artists that really appeal to different segments of Taos but, in doing so, they have brought a lot of the community together. Ozomatli was perfect, high energy for the Fourth of July, Dwight Yoakam was a fun summer night with a country music legend and Spearhead, The Wailers and Supaman is the right blend of a lineup for wrapping up the summer on San Geronimo Day. AMP asked us to be a part of this show with them and it’s an honor to be working with promoters that are so community minded.”
Henderson added, “When we started Roots & Wires 20 years ago, we were all about creating a music scene here in Taos, but I never imagined it would become so massive. It’s exciting.”
Michael Franti & Spearhead, known for upbeat music with positive messages, started with the “Home” album in 1994 and released “Soulrocker” last year.
“I believe in the power of positivity and optimism,” said Franti in an interview with Tempo. “If you can dream it, then you can see it into existence. I think that an important part of positivity and optimism is also grief, being able to cry, to share your sadness, your disappointment, your fear with other people. Optimism isn’t just about having fun all the time. It’s about being openhearted so that your emotions can live freely and being able to let go of things that then bring you into light or clarity or courage.”
He said he and his wife “have a family motto, and it’s inscribed inside of our wedding rings. It’s, ‘Be your best, serve the greater good and rock out wherever you are.’ That means to us, always try to go to your growing edge and find what is the next thing that you can learn or discover about yourself. And ‘serve the greater good’ means take what you’ve learned and apply it back to – or give it back to – our families and our communities and our world. And ‘rock out wherever you are’ means never lose that enthusiasm for life, appreciate every second, let your light shine so bright that it becomes a beacon for others and inspires others.”
As an artist, Franti said he is always trying to do something that he hasn’t done before and is always looking for new musical challenges. While on this path, he said the band has kept its core values intact. “We believe that every person on the planet deserves to be healthy, happy and equal,” Franti said. “That’s our goal as a band – to try as much as we can to help support that message becoming a reality in the world.”
How does Franti keep himself challenged?
“The main thing is to get out in the world and have conversations. Talk to people, experience things, do self-examination. Ask, ‘Where am I in my life?’ ‘What’s happening in my inner world, inside of me?’ – and then translate all of that into some kind of musical storytelling that combines with other styles or other sounds or other individuals.”
This year, as part of the “Love Out Loud” tour, Franti and Spearhead are having meetups where they plan time to get together with their fans in a casual way, often at a park to practice yoga, play hula hoop, engage in conversation and share food.
Here in Taos, Franti and friends are offering an afternoon outdoors yoga class with live music at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon before the concert at El Monte Sagrado, 317 Kit Carson Road. Tickets for the yoga class, which is taught by Emily Branden, are $40 and available through ampconcerts.org or by calling (505) 886-1251.
Partial proceeds from the yoga class go to Do It For The Love, a nonprofit organization that brings people with life-threatening illnesses, children with major challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts.
Warming up the stage for Franti and Spearhead is the internationally renowned Jamaican reggae band, The Wailers. The group, originally headed up by the legendary Bob Marley, now features Joshua David Barrett on lead vocals and rhythm guitar.
Barrett was born in New Jersey of Jamaican descent and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a distant cousin of Aston “Familyman” Barrett, co-founder and musical director of The Wailers since 1969. After meeting Aston Barrett Jr. in 2012, Joshua Barrett stayed in touch with him. In 2014, Joshua Barrett was invited to join the famous reggae band.
Barrett told Tempo it is “a joy to my heart and soul” to sing the songs of Marley and The Wailers. “It is a joy, a privilege and an honor.”
“The Wailers music is the people’s music, as Bob Marley used to say,” said Barrett.
These days, The Wailers include original members of the band (Aston “Familyman” Barrett, Junior Marvin and Donald Kinsey), as well as younger members, like Joshua Barrett, who have joined more recently. That combination serves the band well. “We need the knowledge and experience of today’s youth because things are moving faster, but we need the roots and groundation of traditions that are older than me. We don’t come to remove those. We come to strengthen and hold up those great monuments that they left for us,” Joshua Barrett said.
Christian Takes Gun Parrish, aka “Supaman,” is a member of the Apsáalooke Nation and lives on the Crow reservation in Montana. He is known for his inspiring lyrics and positive musical messages and has received national recognition for his work, including the 2011 North American Indigenous Image Award for outstanding hip-hop album.
In an interview with Tempo, Supaman said he has been influenced by a variety of artists from Prince to Bob Marley to Metallica and Northern Cree, as well as hip-hop artists, such as Sticky Fingaz of Onyx, Eminem, Chino XL, GZA, Xzibit and many more.
“I try to be an overall positive influence – try to spread love, joy and happiness,” Supaman stated. “I’m drug- and alcohol-free, so I definitely spread that message, as well. I also use my platform to educate and highlight human rights and Native issues that go overlooked in society.”
He added that the Apsáalooke “are very rich in culture and language. We still practice what a lot of tribes have lost. We still live on our ancestral homelands,” noted Supaman. “I was happy to grow up there with close community, cultural and family bonds. But, like many other tribes, we are still dealing with the oppression and devastation of what colonization has done to our people.”
Supaman said he will be performing songs to the videos he has released, including “Stand Up,” which is a tribute to Standing Rock and recently won MTV’s VMA award.
Tickets are $46 in advance, $50 on the day of the show, $9 for ages 12 and younger. They are available at ampconcerts.org.
For more information on the artists, visit michaelfranti.com, thewailers.net, facebook.com/Supamanhiphop or innastate.net.