Franti and Allman open Britt weekend

Expect a dance party when Michael Franti and Spearhead come to town tonight, Friday, June 8, in Jacksonville to open the Britt Festivals' 2007 season.

Gregg Allman will check in Sunday, along with Harry Manx, to round out Britt's opening weekend. There is no Saturday show.

Franti first brought his hip-hop/soul beat to Britt last year for a nearly sold-out show that resulted in people rushing the stage to dance.

That led Britt officials to take the unusual step of declaring Friday's concert a dance show, meaning don't expect to throw a blanket in front of the stage and claim your own private space.

"People were mad last year that people were dancing all over their blankets," Britt marketing director Kelly Gonzales says. "They weren't expecting it. This year it's fair warning. It's going to be a big dance fest."

Britt has lawn seating in front of the stage for which people line up hours and hours before shows, then make a mad dash. And Britt has long had a policy of discouraging dancing outside designated areas, especially in front of the reserved seats , although a critical mass of dancers sometimes causes this practice to abandoned, as happened for shows by Bruce Hornsby and Ani DiFranco.

Franti emerged in the 1980s with The Beatnigs, a punk-industrial outfit that set poetry to a heavy beat. In 1992 he moved to harder rap with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, but his socially conscious lyrics didn't fit the rap scene.

With Spearhead, Franti mixes personal and socially conscious lyrics with rock, reggae and soul. His "Yell Fire," (2002) grew out of time Franti spent in Iraq and the Middle East.

Rock and Roll hall of famer Gregg Allman is best known as a founding brother of The Allman Brothers, but more than 30 years down the road he's still jamming on keyboards and guitars with Gregg Allman and Friends.

The current lineup has Neil Larson on keyboards, Jerry Jemmott on bass, Steve Potts on drums, Mike C. Barnes on guitar, Jay Collins on saxophone and Floyd Miles on percussion.

Allman, who continues to work with the ABB, says there's a clear difference when he tours with the Friends.

"There's only one cook in the kitchen," he says, "only one chef. I let the soloists do their thing &

you've gotta let a man do a solo the way he wants &

but as far as picking the tunes and working on the arrangements, I take full responsibility for it."

Allman has survived tragedies and the pitfalls of a rock lifestyle and now lives in Georgia with his wife, a home studio, several dogs and several Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Harry Manx is a soulfulCanadian singer-songwriter.

whose music is an amalgam of blues and Indian raga (see story on page 5).

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