Making big things happen in a small town
like Santa Barbara is all about connections. And this Saturday,
February 24 at the Arlington, the Solutions for Dreamers
eco-festival represents one of the highest levels of S.B.
The ball began rolling back in 2001 when Jacob Tell, Sean
Campos, and Mike Wald founded Oniracom as a Web development
company. They hooked up with an emerging musician named Jack
Johnson, whose wife, Kim, was Tell’s cousin, and who took off
internationally in part due to his Web presence. Oniracom began
working for other artists, and by 2004, the trio had enough
momentum to start the Oniric Records label. In 2005, the
compilation album Solutions for Dreamers was released,
sponsored by Simple Shoes, another S.B. mainstay.
“Solutions for dreamers” is Oniracom’s motto. Explained Tell,
“It basically means that we provide solutions for artists and
people with a vision, people with a dream. And definitely
environmental organizations fit into that, so it was a perfect fit
when we linked with Heal the Ocean.” That nonprofit is now the
beneficiary of Oniracom’s work, including this Saturday’s full-day
festival, which will feature eco-friendly booths for the general
public in front of the Arlington from 1 p.m. until the concert
starts around 6 p.m. For ticket holders, the Arlington’s interior
will be decked out with underwater sea creatures courtesy of Paul
McAvene Designs, and the courtyard will have a drinking area for
all, but a special one with food for VIPs.
The concert is timed to coincide with the release of
Solutions for Dreamers: Season Two, another compilation
from Oniric Records featuring the bands that Oniracom has worked
with over the years. The collection includes songs by ALO, Matthew
McAvene, and the Culver City Dub Collective — bands that will also
be playing the concert this weekend — as well as The Hero and the
Victor, Oso, The Hoagland Conspiracy, and G Love, who provides the
CD’s ocean-related interludes. The CD is free to everyone who comes
to the concert, which is sure to become a welcome annual affair for
those who care about the environment and love good music. And with
so many connections, we might just be surprised by who shows
What follows is a short interview with concert headliner Michael
Franti of Spearhead. A longer version of this interview can be
found online at independent.com.
I’ve always considered you to be the voice of the
revolution. Does the government think so too? Are you scared that
they’re watching you? A couple of years ago, I took a trip
to Iraq where I played music on the street for people. When I
returned, I spent about an hour being questioned about why I was
there. I kept saying that I was there to play music for people, but
I guess there’s not a code in the computer for that. But I think
that in this time — it’s openly being spoken about on the front
page of the daily news that the government keeps track of phone
conversations — I wouldn’t be surprised. But I don’t live in fear
of that and I don’t allow it to stop me.
Speaking of Iraq, is the challenge of war there bringing
about any explosion of creativity? Definitely. I see in
Iraq a whole new sense of freedom people have never felt before. I
interviewed a band called Black Scorpions, a heavy metal group.
They were able to make music for the first time without
surveillance from the government. There’s the first Iraqi radio
station we visited. So there’s a new openness. But there’s also a
vacuum created that now has led to more fundamentalism. So things
today are more difficult for women on the street than they were
during Saddam’s time.
What did you learn from visiting both sides of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict? No one likes to live under
occupation — that’s one thing I discovered on this trip. At the
same time, no one wants to live in fear that when they walk into a
theater in Tel Aviv, they’re going to be blown up. And that fear
leads people on both sides to extremism.
So is good or evil prevailing in the world right
now? I don’t really like to look at things in terms of
good people and bad people. I try to look at it like we’re all on
our way to becoming right eventually. We’re all gonna get there.
When I look at what’s happening in the Middle East today, I feel
like the way that solutions are going to come is not by me proving
my opinion is right and your opinion is wrong. The solutions are
going to come when people on all sides are going to listen to one
another and consider solutions that consider the other side. That’s
what needs to happen today.
Regarding the Solutions for Dreamers concert, how can
the music industry do its part to help out the
environment? I think that the first thing is just to bring
light to issues taking place, kind of being an advocate for
sustainability. I think that the best way for a musician to do that
is by doing it ourselves. That’s one of the things we’ve been doing
over the last year. We’re trying to green what we do as much as
possible. We’re using hemp paper for our CDs, we’re creating a
recycling program just on our bus so that everything gets recycled.
And we have someone working right now to get our bus onto
And what are your thoughts on Santa Barbara? I
love Santa Barbara. I love being at the water there and if I don’t
swim, I try to go rent a kayak to paddle around for an hour before
the show. I really love being on the water and Santa Barbara has a
culture of people who are connected to the sea. That’s why I want
to be a part of this concert. There are people there who believe
that we could do better in terms of taking care of the ocean and
finding solutions for that.
The Solutions for Dreamers festival is Saturday, February 24, at
the Arlington Theatre. The eco-fest, which is free to all, begins
at 1 p.m., and the concert starts at 6 p.m. See solutionsfordreamers.com for
tickets and more info.