The Artists

Michael Franti and Spearhead

For nearly a decade hip hop artist and activist Michael Franti has been one of the leading progressive voices inmusic. Rising out of the Bay Area music and political scene in the early 1990's, Franti founded the Beatnigs,Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy, and most recently the musical collective Spearhead. Michael's music mixes hip hop,soul and jazz influences but is driven by his political lyrics.

Michael Franti is also a long time political activist, using his musical talents to support anti-racist, anti-policebrutality and anti-war organizing around the country. He has spoken out as both a musician and an activist sinceSeptember 11 and recently wrote the song "bomb the world" in response to the September 11 attacks and the US bombingof Afghanistan. Yesterday he spoke and sang at an anti-war rally held in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

In his most recent project, musician and activist Michael Franti melds music video and documentary film to showcase the stories of the people he encounters in a journey through the war-torn Middle East. For a couple of weeks in 2004, Franti, armed only with his guitar, traveled with a camera crew in Iraq, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories, meeting people of all stripes in an effort to understand the human cost of war. The record of the trip, entitled I Know I’m Not Alone, has won acclaim in recent months at numerous film festivals across the globe.

Franti's latest album, "Stay Human," proposes that grassroots community activists infiltrate, overthrow, and take themedia into their own hands to get important political messages out to a wider audience. The album also takes on the death penalty, with songs interspersed by broadcasts from an imaginary pirate radio station, Stay Human Radio,working to prevent the execution of a community activist.

ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra)

"For us, ALO is more than just a band and we're more than just a group of great friends making music together… ALO is our lifestyle."

With this simple aphorism, keyboardist/vocalist Zach Gill sums up the unique dynamic that defines ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra). Born from a friendship nurtured during their days at the University of California Santa Barbara, the four-piece collective includes Steve Adams (bass/vocals), Dan Lebowitz (guitars/ percussion/vocals) and David Brogan (drums/vocals).

Part musical explorers, part pop songsmiths, all-around dynamic performers, ALO made waves in 2005 with their soulful California style and feel-good, danceable grooves, prompting influential Triple A radio station WXPN to call them an "Artist to Watch." Convinced that the band could be huge if they got in front of the right audience, college buddy Jack Johnson brought ALO on his successful summer tour and asked the band to sign to his own Brushfire Records so they could release a reworked version of Fly Between Falls, which the band put out independently last year. The CD will be out to all major retailers on April 18, 2006.

Zach, Dan and Steve have been playing together through various incarnations of different musical groups for years, forming the "Animal Liberation Orchestra and the Free Range Horns" with their college jazz band director on drums. Originally a nine-piece outfit, the band began drawing enormous attention in the Santa Barbara area with their rousing stage shows. When Zach, Dan and Steve returned to their hometown San Francisco, they stripped back down to a quartet, playing with a wide variety of different drummers. Finally, in 2002, the trio reunited with drummer David Brogan (with whom they had previously played in college) and the ultimate version of ALO was solidified.

Matthew McAvene

Matthew McAvene (Mack-Uh-Veen) is a highly prolific musical and visual artist with outstanding versatility. After years of travel and self education, he has settled in Santa Barbara as a visionary artist and musician dedicated to the creation of positive and lasting change in the global community. As an inventor, producer, painter, musician, sculptor, writer and designer, it has been said he is one of the most prolific artists in multiple mediums (Montecito Journal, 7/18/05). McAvene's work is vast in style, ranging from primitive to realist.

Since performing publicly in 2005, McAvene created stage backdrops, puppets and effects for his show as well as other acts. He opened for Eddie Money, ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra), Hot Buttered Rum String Band and collaborated with ALO. McAvene has recorded original material with Zach Gill (ALO/Jack Johnson). During a radio interview on July 12, 2006, McAvene was recognized as the best band in Santa Barbara after winning the FM107.7 Battle of the Bands. Out of 50 band submissions, McAvene was crowned champion and was featured at the 2006 MDA Black & Blue Ball benefit.

Culver City DUb Collective

Adam Topol is a student of rhythm. He is the drummer in Jack Johnson's band. He's played on all of Jack's albums and he has toured with Jack since day one. In addition, Adam played in the Sprout House Band (with Jack and The Beastie Boy's Money Mark). He provided the backbeat for The September Sessions soundtrack and most recently, he has collaborated with Jack on the Curious George Soundtrack.

Adam has also recorded two albums of his own. Ritmo Y Canto is his folkloric drum and voice album. It features traditional Cuban songs performed by a host of roots and Latin afficianados. Culver City Dub Collective is a collaboration with Franchot Tone and explores Jamaican roots reggae, funk, ska and dub. Everloving Records will present a full-length CCDC album this Fall, a tribute of sorts to King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry's earliest dub and reggae recordings. The albums guests include Money Mark, Ben Harper and Jack Johnson.