The tickets for the Michael Franti & Spearhead event, sponsored by Band Together for StepUP Ministry and held at Lincoln Theatre, stated that the show would go on “rain or shine,” and they made good on that promise. The opening band, The Old Ceremony (http://www.theoldceremony.com), was barely onstage for a full ten minutes before the rain clouds let loose. This, however, did not seem to dampen the spirits of music enthusiasts who stood, huddled under umbrellas or dressed in ponchos, listening to the band rock out. The Old Ceremony put on an awesome show and maintained great energy. Band member Matt Brandau said, “It was so awesome to see people stick it out in the rain. We really appreciate that, and the music is for a really good cause tonight.” Singer Django Haskins agreed and said, “We love playing outdoor shows – rain or shine – and we’re so grateful for the opportunity to share our music and support Band Together and StepUP Ministry.”
Band Together (http://www.bandtogethernc.org) put together the event to benefit StepUP Ministry and raised an amazing $350,000 for the organization. In fact, since 2001, Band Together has given over one million dollars to local charities, making it one of the most viable resources in the community. Likewise, StepUP Ministry(http://www.step-up.us) is an important organization that works to promote complete self-sufficiency with its Jobs and Life Skills programs. Graduates of the program were on hand to speak to others about the ways in which it had changed their lives. Robert Battle, the program director for StepUP and a released 12.5 year ex-offender and 2004 graduate of the Jobs program, shared his incredible story. Battle said, “StepUP is where hope and faith intersect; I’m thankful that I crossed through the intersection and now have the opportunity to guide people on their journey to self-sufficiency. With the support of Band Together, we have a great opportunity to have a larger impact in the community by empowering more people who are ready and willing to make positive life changes.” The headliner of the show, Michael Franti, was extremely complimentary of both causes and took time to visit with volunteers from each program before the show. He also reached out to Battle and made an effort to spend time with him after hearing his truly amazing story.
Spirits were high throughout the event, with everyone seeming to understand that this show was about much more than just the music. Indoors, members of the AcroEntertainment group gave a fun and interactive performance before welcoming American Idol finalist, Anoop Desai. Desai, sporting a bow tie, was extremely talented and personable and even took the time to pose with fans (on-stage) and dance with a few swooning girls. Shortly thereafter, the rain relented and band One EskimO took the outdoor stage. Other events were also going on around the music as well. As part of the local arts scene, Clark Hipolito did a live painting on an electric guitar. Franti was so thrilled with Hipolito’s work that he gave his guitar to him to paint after the show. Hipolito made the trip to Asheville to return it to him the next day.
After a few announcements and some more heartwarming stories from those who had benefitted from StepUP Minstry, Michael Franti & Spearhead came front and center. The show was so full of energy that by the time the rain started up again, nobody seemed to notice. Franti ran into the crowd several times, danced with fans, pulled members of AcroEntertainment onstage with him, and made sure to let it be known that his message was all about love and tolerance. Radio personality Richard Brown, of the Richard Brown Show, was in attendance, and though he admitted he’d been dragged out by his wife (a big fan of Franti), he said he had an “amazing time.” Erin Conigliaro of http://www.erinedesign.com was also at the show and said, “Franti was really fantastic. The crowd was great too; we didn’t let the rain bother us one bit.”
Die-hard fans of Michael Franti & Spearhead could not gush enough. Angela Barakat, who drove all the way from Sanford, West Virginia, has been going to see Franti perform for eight years and said, “His music really changed my life.” The two hours of fun, dancing, and amazing melodies passed by all too quickly, but the party continued inside with a performance from Holy Ghost Tent Revival, which Franti attended. He also took the time to visit with fans and pose for photographs.
At the end of the night, the crowd was looking slightly damp but happy. The positivity, wonderful planning, and incredibly energized performances seemed to have rubbed off on everyone in attendance, making this event one that the city of Raleigh won’t soon forget. Band Together chairman, Trey Caudle, said, “In spite of two rain showers, we hosted our most successful event to date. We had an amazing team of volunteers, we raised a staggering amount of money, and in-kind donations totaled more than $88,000. Franti and his crew embraced the inclement weather along with 2,500 attendees from as far away as Illinois and Michigan. “