By Catherine Moran
I have been a Jason Mraz fan for quite some time. I picked up his first album for $8 in a Best Buy in 2002 before “The Remedy” was a hit and, I’ll admit, it was because of the cute face on the back. I met him after he played at a big show sponsored by a local Boston radio station in 2003, and of course I swooned (see gratuitous photo of me telling Jason “you rock”). Mraz has come into his own since that time, both as an artist and as an advocate of many causes that are also near and dear to my heart, including being green.
At the beginning, Mr. A-Z was one of my favorite artists because of his irreverent lyrics and the innuendo and wordplay in his songs (you see what he did there?), as well as his ability to sing a 30-minute medley without pause, but nowadays he is one of my favorites for his ability to inspire and educate his listeners. One way in which he is spreading the Green Word is through the latest tour for his new album, Love Is a Four Letter Word. Mraz has done something I’ve never seen another artist do, and that is making his tour as green as possible. I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a fantastic trend for performing artists.
Mraz has a website dedicated solely to the green efforts of the tour, TreeIsAFourLetterWord.org. The site, in association with Reverb, links to carshares for many concert venues that aren’t accessible by public transportation. By texting, either at the concert or any time (text “tree” 85944 to make a $5 donation), five trees will be planted in the Jason Mraz Fan Forest through the Green World Campaign, an organization that plants trees in some of the poorest communities around the world.
The site also announces Mraz’s intention to help reduce the amount of plastic bottles and cups used at the event: “Join Jason in ditching disposable water bottles and bring your (empty) reusable bottle to the show to get FREE WATER!!” Unfortunately, while I brought my empty Klean Kanteen to the Jones Beach Theater, I did not see the Brita FilterForGood Music Project Hydration Station, which could have been because it was—rumor has it—near the entrance, but it also may have been because this Kate spent a good amount of time in line for a t-shirt, and thus didn’t have too much time to wander around before the show. The site asks for volunteers who help “encourage fans to take environmental action,” and (wo)man booths that provide information about Reverb, registering to vote, and farming communities.
Green things I observed at the concert: no one at the merchandise booth was asked if he or she wanted a bag. Bags were available, the majority in paper, though there were a few plastic ones, on the tables, and people could take at their discretion. There was a booth that had a game: try to get a ball into a water bottle, and if you did, you got a reusable bottle. Woo! Seed packets (!!) at the merchandise booth were something I have never seen at a concert; Mraz specifically mentioned the packets during the show as something we could purchase to help make the world a bit greener. Also, I found through Twitter, Mraz’s tour chef asks folks to take the compost from that day of the tour home for their garden. Had I a garden, I would have totally been in on that.
Mraz put on a fabulous show, playing his greatest hits, but also a lot of longtime fan favorites. He told the audience one of his goals with his music is to “educate,” a truly wonderful thing, since his voice has such a far reach (literally!). The man was born to sing – it’s a joy to watch him perform, because you can tell he truly loves it. It’s as if the sounds can’t help but spill from him, and his normal state of being is trying to contain the harmonies that are just waiting to burst from him.
A highlight of the concert included a cover of Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” during which fans were asked to sing along, dance, sing to the person they came with and to a stranger. A personal favorite moment was when the barefoot Mraz casually lifted his leg up into tree pose, doing a bit of yoga while strummin’ on his guitar. He also sang a song I’d never heard before, and with a line quite poignant for the greenies: “Be kind to the world, she’s everybody’s girl.”
Jason Mraz will continue to be one of my favorite performers, not just because he has my all-time favorite tattoo, because he encourages his audiences to recycle at the end of his shows, because he advocates for gay marriage, because he did a PSA with the Nature Conservancy, or even because he is an avocado farmer who supplies Chipotle. I could go on and on singing the man’s praises, but one of the major reasons I will continue to admire him is because, after asking the audience at Jones Beach to please recycle the waste we produced at the venue, he says such things as: “Always leave the world better than you found it, including the people in it.”
[Final note: while my friend, a fellow Kate, and I waited for the parking lot to empty out—yay, carpooling!—we watched a lone aluminum can blow across the parking lot at top speed. It reminded me of the plastic bag in American Beauty, and also of the fact that we still have a long way to go toward making the world greener…though how anyone can resist entreaties of any kind from Mraz is beyond me.]