Politically charged music - by Ruth Sharpe.jpg

Politically charged music – by Ruth Sharpe

THE MASTERY of music and surfing is being celebrated in Sagres on August 14 and 15, with some of the most respected names in the music industry coming to perform at the Sagres Surf Festival on the stunning sands of Praia do Tonel.

Headlining proceedings is 26-year-old, singer/songwriter Patrice. Providing an effortless combination of folk, reggae, soul and blues, Patrice exploded onto the music scene with his debut Lions EP in 1999, aged just 18. With the deep lyrical content and social conscience resonating within his work, Patrice alludes to his late father (a Sierra Leonian political activist and poet) and Bob Marley as the greatest influences on his music.

After supporting Lauryn Hill on her much acclaimed Miseducation Tour, Patrice released his critically acclaimed first album, Ancient Spirits, in 2000. Since 2001, Patrice has toured relentlessly across Europe, the US and Africa. Whether solo, acoustic or with his band, Shashamani, a combination of humour, stage antics and musicianship have thus far made Patrice’s live shows the highlight of his career.

His second, largely self-produced album, How Do You Call It (released in Europe in September 2002), saw Patrice evolving his sound with a rich mix of hip-hop, soul and reggae, cementing his unique niche in today’s diverse musical landscape. The LP also spawned the European hit, Sunshine.

Patrice’s third and most recent album Nile has been described as a work of “astounding maturity, sincerity and sensitivity”. Whether rocking to the amped guitar and African percussion behind Africanize Dem or soaking up the beautiful rendition of the obscure Wailers track, It Hurts to Be Alone, it’s clear that experimentation has lent an urgency and freshness to his work. The majority of 2005 was spent performing to sell-out audiences throughout Europe promoting Nile. In December, Patrice headlined his first show for all the UK fans at The Borderline, in London.

The other main attraction at the festival, Michael Franti, is not only a musician but a prominent peace and justice activist. He attempts to address contemporary social issues in America such as Aids, homelessness, kidnapping, police brutality and the death penalty, as well as being a tireless crusader for the Middle East. Franti has been successfully voicing his observations through his music since the 90s, forming his band, Spearhead, in 1994.

His songs deal with topics he feels compassionately about and believes should be put in the public eye. For example, his 2000 release Stay Human focuses on issues such as media monopolisation and incarceration. Franti describes how “half the record is songs about what’s happening in the world and the other is about how we cope with it as people who are concerned about what is going on”.

The music of Franti and Spearhead blends together elements of funk, soul, reggae and even bossa nova. Franti’s determination has seen him become one of the most relevant and influential figures in popular music and the peace movement. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist bombings, Franti penned the song Bomb the World, the lyrics of which have been pasted onto protest signs and T-shirts worldwide – “You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb it into peace”.

Franti continues his musical tracking of current events with the July 2006 release of new album, Yell Fire!, inspired from a trip to Baghdad, West Bank and the Gaza strip.

Deep social and political issues underlie the work of many of the acts performing over the two-day event, issues that are also surprisingly popular among the dreadlocked legions of surf fanatics, who will no doubt turn out in their masses for a chilled out few days in an extremely tranquil setting.

Other bands performing at the festival include Xavier Rudd, Slightly Stoopid, Natiruts and The Beautiful Girls. Tickets are available from www.musicanocoracao.pt and from www.ticketline.pt, and are priced at 25 euros each per day or 40 euros for a two-day pass.