Music Scene: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Chatham County Line, Heartless Bastards

Michael Franti & Spearhead

Michael Franti’s musical career has taken some unusual turns since the Oakland, Calif., native’s first album in 1988.

Back then, Franti was a member of the industrial-punk band The Beatnigs, a band he co-founded while attending the University of San Francisco. Four years later, he re-emerged with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, an eclectic and progressive-minded group that combined industrial music and hip-hop with a sharp political and social commentary.

Franti received his first taste of success with DHH, opening for U2, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine and others while also finding a major platform to express his views.

Keeping the same message, Franti shifted musical styles in 1994, when he founded the group Spearhead to incorporate more funk and reggae and less punk and industrial.

Franti’s mainstream popularity has grown with each album he has released since his 2006 breakthrough, “Yell Fire!” His latest album, 2010’s “The Sound of Sunshine,” peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200.

Michael Franti & Spearhead will perform Tuesday at the Music Farm, 32 Ann St., with Nic Cowan. Tickets are $27.50 in advance, $30 the day of the show, and are available online at or at the Music Farm box office. Doors open at 8 p.m. Go or call 577-6989.

As if bluegrass isn’t hard enough by itself, Chatham County Line ups the ante by adhering to the genre’s deep, traditional roots and resisting the abounding modernized influences with great success.

Since forming in 1999, the North Carolina quartet has used only acoustic instruments on stage, preferring to huddle around a cluster of microphones and rotating positions in a synchronized dance of sorts.

Chatham County Line will perform tonight at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show and are available online at or at the door. Doors open at 9 p.m. Call 571-4343 or go

It seems like somewhat of a paradox that the band calling itself Heartless Bastards hails from the state nicknamed “The Heart of It All,” but this Ohio quartet is anything but heartless.

Sharing the same home state as the popular garage-blues band The Black Keys, Cincinnati’s Heartless quickly became a critic favorite of the garage genre after being signed to The Black Keys’ former label, Fat Possum Records, in the 2000s.

The band first caught the attention of The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney after Heartless singer and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom slipped him a demo in 2004. Carney passed it along to Fat Possum and Heartless was in the studio a few months later to record its 2005 debut, “Stairs & Elevators.”

With a gritty musical style and sleepy melodies that pulse with salty significance, The band affects you in a way you never expected music with such simplicity could. In fact, Heartless reminds you of a more Austin-inspired Yeah Yeah Yeahs and a very exhausted Cold War Kids.

The band was seen performing on the acclaimed PBS series “Austin City Limits” in 2009 and recently released its Partisan Records debut, “Arrow,” an album the band recorded in Texas with Spoon drummer Jim Eno.

Heartless Bastards will perform Monday at The Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, with These United States. Tickets are $14 in advance, $16 at the door, and are available online at or at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m. Go to or call 571-4343.