Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jack J and crew are reducing your Concert Carbon Footprint!

I thought this was a very interesting article, especially since my week has included calculating Carbon Footprints. Also, check out Rogue Wave and Mason Jennings, two of Brushfire Records' artists mentioned in the article. If Jack approves, they must be good!

By Quinn Brown
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Don't let Jack Johnson fool you.

Tabbed as a "mellow rocker" by perhaps one too many publications, the chart-topping singer-songwriter has a fire within that belies his laid-back manner -- a fire that extends to his company, Brushfire Records, and his environmental activism.

Johnson started the record label in 2002 "as a way to put out soundtracks for surf movies we were making," he says. "Then our friends G. Love and Special Sauce were coming to the end of their record deal with another label, and the idea came up to put out their stuff."

The Hawaii-based artist -- whose latest album "Sleep Through the Static" hit No. 1 in the U.S. and sold over 2 million albums worldwide -- has continued to assemble talent. The label's roster now includes indie-rockers Rogue Wave, folk-pop musician Mason Jennings and keyboardist Money Mark.

Johnson says the record label is not driven by dollar signs.

"We never try to talk anybody into joining the label, but we just offer a lot of creative control over all their music and a fairer deal than with most other labels," he explains.

Rogue Wave frontman Zach Schwartz is one of the converts. "The music business is traditionally pretty cutthroat, nasty and evil, but [with Brushfire], it is not that way," he tells CNN. "You can make the music you want to make."

Still, even in these major-label-dominated times, artist-friendly labels aren't unusual; Dave Matthews has also attracted talent with his ATO Records. It's in making Brushfire a model of green business that Johnson and his colleagues have stood out.

As keen environmentalists, Johnson and his team have required Brushfire and its distributors to engage in earth-friendly implementations that have influenced others in the record business.

"The music is one thing, but there is this business side," says Zach Gill, a Brushfire solo artist and member of Johnson's touring band. "I think more and more businesses are saying, 'Yeah, we want to be responsible. Responsible to our employees. Responsible for the waste our company generates.' We're starting to see that a lot in all kinds of businesses, not just in music," he says.

Entertainment industry giant Universal Music Group -- the largest family of record labels in the recording industry -- has taken notice. Under Brushfire's direction, UMG uses recycled stock on all of the packaging for its releases, including movies, ensuring that the paper is as environmentally friendly as possible. Some is even made using wind power.

Moreover, Brushfire's artists have exerted their eco-influence on venues and promoters for concert tours worldwide. The tour rider, a checklist of artists' requirements at each venue, usually consists of specific brands of beer or (in one case involving Jennifer Lopez) the way the coffee is stirred. Brushfire uses an EnviroRider, a handbook of eco-friendly options and actions for various components of concert tour production.

"It gets augmented every year. What started out as suggestions are now becoming requirements [for us to play at a venue]," says Johnson.

Johnson and his management also created All At Once, a social action network that provides tools and information to people who want to become more involved in their community and worldwide. Visitors to the All At Once area at tour venues will be rewarded with exclusive music downloads by their favorite Brushfire artists. Johnson's charity, Ohana Charitable Foundation, will match any donation (up to $2,500) to nonprofits made by fans at the shows or online.

"We shrink our carbon footprint always, but we have all these nonprofit groups that we all work with," says Johnson. "Money from the shows goes to these groups and helps bolster their memberships so that after we leave the town, these groups can continue to do good things. So more than just lessening our negative [environmental] impact, it's actually leaving a positive impact [wherever we tour]," says Johnson.

Additional actions taken by Brushfire tours will include fueling tour vehicles with sustainable biodiesel, offering eco-friendly merchandise, working with venues to create waste management programs, onsite recycling and encouraging fans to use alternative transportation.

Back at home, Brushfire has adopted a similar strategy. All the power for the recording studios and the offices is generated by solar panels. Insulation is supplied by cotton from scraps of blue jeans. Energy-efficient lighting runs throughout the building. Second-hand furniture is all you will find in its offices.

The mission resonates with the other artists on the label's roster.

"For me, it's so great to be a part of the label because so many people provide information about what we can do to make it better -- touring more efficiently, biodiesel -- stuff like that," says Jennings. "I'm learning a ton being around those guys."

At bottom, the atmosphere of collaboration and common purpose is rooted in the shared love of music, says Gill.

"Music is the great synchronizer. They've become quite a wonderful community to be a part of. I feel grateful to Jack for having the idea to bring together all these like-minded people to make music together," he says.

Johnson agrees. "It's everything. It is the whole reason to play music. I learn so much from playing with these other musicians," he says.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Finally!  Houston's House of Blues is set to open in October!  Concerts are starting to get booked...stay tuned!

Check out the website for more info.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rants and Raves for the Week

Hola amigos!  Here are some random rants and raves for your reading enjoyment.

  • 30 days of Coldplay on XM Channel 51 -  So maybe it started out a little too emotional the first morning (Fix You, Warning Sign...then Scientist....I mean really?) and it was way intense for my Monday morning commute to work, BUT it is pretty terrific.  There are live performances and unreleased covers, along with interviews with the really compliments the Houston traffic well.
  • Swirll - There are 3 locations in Houston, one of which is on West Gray and very convenient for me.  Fourteen different self-serve healthy froyo's (frozen yogurt, that is) and you can add your own toppings buffet style.  The cookies & cream with crushed oreos...omigoodness...awesome.
  • Pearl Bar - This may be my new favorite bar in Houston.  Pool table, shuffleboard, golden tee, outdoor patio with PING PONG, hulahoops (what?), and a DJ...exactly!  The best thing is that its non-Houstonian in that there's a mingling atmosphere withOUT clubbiness.  People in shorts, slacks,'s all good at The Pearl.  Best part, its walking distance from my new loft....yeah!
  • Spiked watermelons, Ratatat's new album, my new wii, Lil Wayne, the movie Wanted, BATMAN, Into The Woods, Adele, happy hour at Zushi on Memorial...
  • Kirby Drive & Bissonnett Street....all of it
  • Men who feel the need to hang male genitalia from their truck hitches.  Seriously, I don't need to see that at 6am and what are parents supposed to say to their innocent little girls?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wanna know why Houston's Indie Music Scene has been lacking?

Houston Press finally wrote an extensive article on the reasons why indie bands usually skip over the Bayou City.  It's pretty long, but worth the read.  How disappointing...  I'll definitely keep doing my part by showing up at the shows, and you should do the same!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And I have officially reached nirvana...

Not at I advocate this sort of activity (and I've never participated in it to date) but I'm just sharing a bit of information for you to use at your discretion. I have located a "Music Blog Aggregator", not to be confused with a Flux Capacitor. (Wow...I even just surprised myself with that bout of nerdiness...) Apparently it collects all new leak posts from every music blog that is registered on this site.

Three easy steps and you might find yourself with some new tunes...
1. Go to
2. Type in the album in the top right hand corner
3. Do what it do.

That's all I got...shhhhhhh