On November 12th, 2005 I found myself in Toronto for a double-shot of shows starting with a unique event hosted by Michael Franti.
For those unfamiliar with Michael Franti, he towered over the hip-hop/funky-hippie scene during the ’90’s, inspiring audiences far and wide to jump!, jump!, jump for the ceiling! with his repetitive grooves, peaceful vibes, and undeniable charm and good looks. The man who turned the phrase “How you feeling!?!” into a drinking game was in Toronto for the premiere of his film I Know I’m Not Alone at the Bloor Cinema.
I Know I’m Not Alone followed Franti as he travelled through Iraq and the Gaza Strip playing his unifying music for and with both local citizens and soldiers from all sides. The documentary is interesting and well put together – I enjoyed it a lot – and afterwards Franti stood up and took questions from the audience.
Best of all was when he followed up the Q&A with an acoustic performance for the next 75 minutes or so. Even if you don’’t know his music you can well-imagine a tall, dark dreadlocked man earnestly belting out songs with titles like East To The West, Stay Human (All The Freaky People), Pray For Grace, Everyone Deserves Music, Rock The Nation, and All Night Long Ain’t Long Enough to a willing tie-dyed crowd hyped up on a movie about peace and freedom in the face of adversary…well, it was just the neo-hippie feet-stuck-to-the-floor shuffle dance party you’d expect and when it was all done we all stumbled out of the theatre with our peaceful fists in the air, happily ignorant to the practical difficulties of international socio-economic relations and blissful because of it, brah. Out on the sidewalk friends were made, germs were shared, and the evening started to trickle away as little pockets of strangers began to disperse.
For me the night had only begun, and late as it was I started over to the El Mocambo for my second ticketed event of the evening.