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Mill Valley Music Festival 2023, Day 1

Updated: May 29, 2023


© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023


The Mill Valley Music Festival is only its second year, and seemed to be a great success for all. Nice lineup of bands, very well organized and relaxed. From an attendees' point of view the kindness of the event is important. And Day 1 of the Mill Valley Music Festival was a winner in my opinion. Easy access, shuttles seemed accessible for everyone and the all ages crowd was so chill and very obviously having a great time throught the festival weekend.


The lineup on Day one, May 13, consisted of Michael Franti & Spearhead, Tank and The Bangas, The Dip, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, and Orchestra Gold opened the festival. On the small stage, (the Sweetwater stage) was Marble Party, Laura Benitez and the Heartache, Alex Jordan, Guyville, and Marin Theatre Company.


The Mill Valley Music festival played host to just over 10,000 total guests (5k per day) with over 20 music acts performing across two stages. The festival also welcomed 50+ local Bay Area businesses joining in on the outdoor fun.


Michael Franti headlined Saturday and as per his usual, sent everyone home with positivity and love, as he does for every Franti show that I've ever attended. His personal vibe and his music exudes love, acceptance and peace to all humanity. If we could only have a Franti like person run for politics we may just have peace in the world (in my opinion). He encouraged the audience to turn to the person next to them and say hello, introduce themselves and even 'do-si-do' with one another! I remember interviewing him several years ago and one of the questions I asked him why he is always barefoot. His answer was that when he visited Africa in 2000, he saw all the poor children and it dawned on him that none of them had shoes, so he made the decision to walk a day 'in their shoes' by being barefoot...and he has simply kept that going for the past 23 years. He's the real deal. Michael Franti is an active contributor to Soles for Souls, a charitable organization that donates old shoes to those in need. He also founded San Francisco's Power to the Peaceful festival, an annual event that boasts 50,000 attendees yearly. I remember when we were talking, I desperately asked him to run for President! As he has the opposite vibe of the toxic orange guy who was running at the time and shockingly, eventually was indeed somehow elected. Franti then, adamantly refused to ever become involved in politics during our conversation. Sadly.


A little about his history...he was adopted by a white family and adores them. And he met his wife Sara after a gig of his. When he finished his set, he jumped off the stage, walked straight up to her and introduced himself, (as if she didnt know) and asked her out to dinner! Now, thats a romantic love story right there! They've been together for a decade now and have a son, Taj together. He may just be the kinda guy all us girls dream about. He's quite a romantic as we can decipher from his lyrics (mostly to Sara), but also a couple songs devoted to his Mum. He's just a beautiful human...and even if his music didn't 'float my boat' I'd still like him! But for me, his music does float my boat and I do listen to him. If nothing else, his music is a great anti depressant for sure. At this moment, I'm even wearing one of his slogans across my chest on my Franti tee, "Stay Human". The other Franti slogan I absolutely adore is, "Work Hard and Be Nice"...something all us humans should aspire to, as the world would definitley be a better place to live in!


As far as the other bands performing on day one...Tank and the Bangas were great and high energy as usual. I'm familiar with them because they've played more than once with Fantastic Negrito. I've also seen BlackJoe Lewis and the Honeybears, also a great band, both bands are full of energy. The Dip played before Franti and to be honest, for me, were not memorable so I have nothing to write about them. Unfortunately I missed the first band, Orchestra Gold.


As far as this festival on the whole...in my opinion it was one of the best run festivals I've had the pleasure of covering. If the chill all ages vibe in air weren't enough, the MVMF is also doing a lot of good locally by providing direct support to their neighbors. They’re leveraging the generosity of individuals and businesses by turning Community Sponsorships into hundreds of scholarship tickets for students and artists – more than 300 were distributed in 2022 – who might not otherwise be able to attend MVMF. The more sponsors they get, the more people will be able to attend on a scholarship ticket via a number of local nonprofit organizations. The Chamber is also donating a portion of proceeds to a trio of local institutions, including the Hannah Project, whose mission is to boost the academic proficiency and college attendance of Marin City and other low income youth of color to promote a community culture that encourages achievement, celebrates heritage, and equips families and students with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to fulfill their dreams and ambitions. WELL DONE!!! Mill Valley Music Festival and all it's contributors and attendees!

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

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