The influence of great artists
Michael Franti & Spearhead
In the early 90’s when we first met the young Michael Franti, he was touring with his pal Rono, playing the original Riverside Club on Melbourne Street (now turned into flats) as the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopsrisy. That was an outstanding show & (naturally) it was straight back to the Trent, for pool & late night afters.
Once the Disposable Heroes folded, he formed 'Spearhead' & then returned to play Newcastle & we hung out some more. That was just the most amazing show, all the band were running around swapping instruments & they just totally blew our minds.
Mike is such an inspirational character & hanging out with Spearhead was a real buzz.
If you have never heard of them, it’s time you wised up & got with it. They are one of the best live bands you will ever see & all their albums are on.
Speaking with Mike really made us realise that we were not alone in what we were doing in Newcastle.
He let us know that there was now a global, positive, anti-racist, political, artistic movement, based around music & made up of individuals just like we were.
Up until that point, that particular penny hadn’t really dropped & we still felt more like loners, than part of any bigger global movement. Understanding what he told us, now made us even more focused, to stay on course & push on to change things in the city’s night life even more.
We all have to support one another & Mike wore one of our Trent T-shirts on the Album cover shoot for Everyone Deserves Music.
We follow Spearhead & Michael’s career closely & catch up, with him any time we can. We were back in Amsterdam a while back & caught them live at Paradiso.
Honestly, we know we have just said it before, but Spearhead live is something you should make a point of experiencing before you leave this Planet.
Here’s a ticket from when we saw Mike & Spearhead back in the Dam at the Melkweg in October 2016.
They've been a great influence on us & Mike’s right – we are all part of the same movement & you can be too.
Whenever we see him, he always reminds us we are on the right track & to stand firm.
Out of everyone we've ever encountered, Public Enemy have been the most massive influence on us. Hands down & as soon as they hit the UK in the late 80s, we followed them around religiously as they toured around the country, to every single show they played.
Went out & caught them in the Dam too, for a show best summed up as - ridiculous, earthshattering, power.
We’ve always rolled with the PE. They are the most important group we have ever experienced in our lifetime in music.
They were a real inspiration to us, standing up as role models, representing Black pride, racial unity, independence & self determination. Their music, positive input & leadership, empowered us - pushing our whole thing to a new level.
We still honour them, with the massive mural, (taken from the Nation of Millions Album cover & pictured below), which is painted on our back stairs in World Headquarters.
Ready or not
As the 80s ended & the 90’s began, it felt like a new era was dawning. Exciting things were happening in Black music. Politics & promoting racial harmony were suddenly in vogue, so what we'd been doing in isolation in Newcastle was suddenly smack on the money.
Around this time seminal albums like Club Classics Vol 1 by Soul To Soul & 3 Feet High & Rising by De La Soul had just dropped & they completely redefined modern music & got mass radio airplay.
House was huge & tunes like Promised Land & Someday (see Stuff We Like section) had dropped, right in the middle of all our lives.
As always, we embraced absolutely everything, kept on playing tunes & our groove just got stronger & stronger.
The 90s were dawning, it was a new decade, Newcastle was rocking, Amsterdam was beautiful, Black music was healthier than it had been in ages & we were inspired...
To take the whole game up a gear, smashing all musical & cultural barriers.