Musicians realize they can use their stage appeal for a greater green good.
As more and more musicians realize the power of song and their influence over devoted followers, a handful have begun to use the stage as a pulpit to proclaim the wonders of living consciously.
Adam Gardner, Guster guitarist and vocalist and co-founder of Portland, Maine based Reverb (an organization dedicated to assisting touring artists by making activities more environmentally sound), says more bands are looking at the impact of their tours and wanting to green them up. Some “green tours” have even become company-wide policy and practice by venue owners and promoters like Live Nation and AEG.
“As someone who has been in a band on tour for the past 20 years, my experience has been that lots of bands have felt badly about their impact on the planet while on tour, but just weren’t sure what to do about it and their road staff didn’t have the capacity to take on any other work,” Gardner says.
But with Gardner’s Reverb and their collective, the Green Music Group (including industry greats like Bonnie Raitt, the Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, Linkin Park and Janelle Monae), Reverb has really guided the music community when it comes to taking action on behalf of the environment.
From bio diesel tour buses to sizable donations earmarked for environmental causes, these 20 musicians are creating closer connections with the planet and their fans support them all the way.
(To see even more artists who have made changes to their tour’s carbon footprint go here.)
Hawaiian born and bred Jack Johnson is to be applaudeded for his two solar-powered studios, tour buses with sustainable biodiesel, eco-friendly tour merchandise, and for promoting ride share programs to and from concerts. No newbie to the green touring scene, Johnson has a history of doing the right thing.
His upcoming Kokua Festival benefit concert for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation will help to support environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaii so they will be lifelong stewards of the earth. Expect to see onstage collaborations with legendary musicians like Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper, Dave Mathews, Ziggy and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and more.
A recent addition to the Reverb roster is the band Fun whose current greening efforts include recycling, green cleaning supplies, carbon offsets for all tour vehicles as well as recycling backstage as well as in the front of the house during shows.
Ben Harper, famous for more recent hits like “Steal My Kisses” and “Diamonds on the Inside,” has been promoting green initiatives for years with tour merch including organic cotton t-shirts and recycled CD covers and was the headlining act for Reverb’s Campus Consciousness Tour last April and continues to make environmental leaps and bounds.
Sheryl Crow has been a force to be reckoned with in the music community when it comes to taking action on behalf of the environment. Some of her recent eco-initiatives have been filling her trucks and buses with B20 biodiesel fuel, implementing extensive waste reduction and recycling backstage and on buses, offering local and organic food backstage and calculating and neutralizing the carbon footprint from tour buses, trucks, flights and venue energy use by supporting renewable energy.
Known for their commitment to the environment, Maroon 5 was honored at the 2006 Environmental Media Awards and recently pledged their time and energy toward Global Cool, a newly launched initiative to fight global warming by motivating a billion people worldwide to reduce their personal energy use. Reverb first worked with Maroon 5 on their 2008 tour.
Jesse Carmichael, keyboardist for Maroon 5 says: “As we make little baby steps, we get more and more people interested in making tours sustainable and more and more aspects of all of our lives sustainable. And hopefully just get some information and spread it around to people, and we’ll all do what we can and things will move forward in a good way.”
Neil Young uses biodiesel trucks and buses and runs 17 other diesel vehicles on vegetable oil. Plus, he’s Neil Young. Just his singing and guitar playing make the world a better planet to live on.
J. Cole’s upcoming “The Sideline Story Tour” will run through 13 dates between April and May. The tour, which is being presented by Reverb, is part a larger event titled the Campus Consciousness Tour. The tour is being slated as “half tour, half environmental campaign,” with the aim to inspire and activate students in an charged atmosphere while leaving a positive impact on each city they play in.
Willie Nelson’s own brand of farmer-supported, earth-friendly biodiesel appropriately named BioWillie is used with Nelson’s own tour buses but also to B20 blend-to highway-roving truckers, the largest group of diesel consumers in the country. Grist says in addition to his work with Farm Aid, an organization he helped found more than 20 years ago to assist family farmers, “Nelson has also been active in supporting the use of hemp in clothing and fuel, and protecting horses from slaughter.”
Drake has educated his fans on the benefits of going green and how they can become involved in building a green economy. Initiatives have included his tour bus running on biodiesel, recycling and composting stations at each stop, biodegradable catering supplies and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, catering cooked with local, organic food, as well as merchandise made of sustainable materials.
Drake tells EcoSalon: “I’m able to utilize a certain amount of momentum, a certain amount of shine and project it on to these individuals who are doing such great things… It’s a tour with a message, it adds something to the energy of the tour.”
Rolling Stone says of Bonnie Raitt: “The bluesy Bonnie Raitt‘s activism predates almost any musician on the green circuit today, beginning most notably with her co-founding of Musicians United for Safe Energy as a response the nuclear incident on Three Mile Island in 1979.”
In addition to using B99 biofuel for her tour buses, Raitt has long been a proponent for clean energy.
Gardner tells EcoSalon: “Equally important to greening the tour itself is engaging the thousands of fans the tour reaches to take action and make changes in their own lives. We’ve found the key to this is making it fun and inspiring. The fact that the musicians are ‘walking their talk’ is also critical. We encourage musicians to be enthusiasts and not feel like they need to stand on a soapbox. Reverb sets up Eco-Villages at concerts with local non profits, games, calls-to-action and green products and technologies for fans to check out. These eco-villages are extensions of the bands’ interests and support for environmental issues.”
Grammy nominated singer Janelle Monáe has also had her time with Reverb on their annual Campus Consciousness Tour. Monáe told Ecorazzi last year that she loved the idea of bringing more of an overall experience onto college campuses. In addition to recycling and carbon offsets, Monáe’s concerts offered green cleaning supplies for buses and reusable water bottles for the crew.
“CCT has the right formula by combining music and activism and delivering it in a fun way to students,” says Monáe.
Dave Mathews Band
An on-going partnership between the Dave Matthews Band, Reverb and IZSTYLE, the Bama Green Project encompasses all of the environmental efforts undertaken by the band while on the road, in the studio or at home. In addition to working with the band, the Bama Green Project is also dedicated to educating DMB fans around the world about how to take simple and positive environmental actions.
Stefan Lessard bass player for the Dave Matthews Band tells EcoSalon: “One of the biggest things is getting the fans involved. Being out there and educating fans not only about what we’re doing as a band, but also what they can do themselves at home.”
The fact that 1.3 billion people around the world do not have reliable and safe access to electricity recently inspired rock band Linkin Park to kick off a solar lighting initiative. The focus of Power The World is to supply solar powered lights to 1 million families by the end of 2012. The group has also pledged their support of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Sustainable Energy For All initiative last month as well as educating fans about reducing their carbon footprint.
John Mayer’s brand, AKOG (Another Kind of Green) was created from the belief that small steps toward environmental sustainability can effect widespread change when multiplied by a great number of participants. AKOG has been present on Mayer’s tours since 2007.
R.E.M. signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide. Known for their long-standing commitment to a number of environmental, feminist and human rights causes, R.E.M. has also volunteered to join campaigns encouraging voter registration, handgun control, and rainforest protection.
There’s more to a rock star’s life than sex, drugs and rock and roll and up and comer Brett Dennen is just the fresh face to prove it. Subscribing to living healthy, cooking from his backyard garden, and eating mostly raw, Denne can be found selling Klean Kanteen reusable water bottles at his shows, and sending partial proceeds to The Mosaic Project, which “empowers children to create peace now, build communities across differences, and break down stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.” TLC reports that “low-income students will use the proceeds to attend a unique human relations outdoor school.”
Formed in 2002, The Fray is an alternative rock band from Denver, Colorado. The Fray has worked with an eco-friendly philosophy since early in their career. Beginning with their collaboration with Reverb in 2005, the band has made efforts to lighten their environmental footprint. According to Rock the Green, In the recent past, The Fray has employed sustainable touring techniques like carbon offsets, recycling, and online carpooling resources for fans.
Barenaked Ladies is a Juno-winning and Grammy-nominated Canadian alternative rock band, best known for their light-hearted, comedic performance style. Reverb and BNL created Barenaked Planet and have worked together on tours and cruises since Reverb’s inception in 2004.