Final List of 'A Greener Festivals' Awards Linners Announced by Jason

The new awards go to festivals worldwide, including US Festivals Rothbury and California's West Beach Music & Arts Festival which join first-round winners Bonnaroo and the Atlanta Jazz Festival. International winners in 2009 include Glastonbury, and Australia's Peats Ridge.

The award is awarded in three categories: "improving," "outstanding," and the standard "Greener Festival" award which falls between the two. The organizers of the award, UK non-profit A Greener Festival, said that they were particularly pleased that 12 festivals had won the "outstanding" award in 2009, including repeat winners Rothbury and Bonnaroo in the US. The Award is based on a 56 part questionnaire which covers office management, greenhouse gas emissions, supporting green initiatives, travel and transport, waste and recycling, water management, environmental protection and noise reduction.Almost all the festivals were visited by an independent auditor to assess their green efforts.

Auditors were pleased this year by Bonnaroo, which also won an "outstanding" award in 2008. The festival auditor noted that in 2009, Bonnaroo concentrated on a "Buy Local" message, and improved their energy footprint by installing new electrical capabilities. This allowed them to plug directly into the local power grid and reduced their energy consumption in the process. Other on site features include permanent water wells, a composting pad and the newly planted Bonnaroo Victory Vegetable Garden. Bonnaroo's many areas of education include the necessity of carbon reduction, the need for composting, reducing bottle water usage, viable uses of solar energy, recycling everything possible, and reducing the use of unnecessary items.

Not to be outdone, Michigan's Rothbury Festival, also a 2008 "outstanding" award winner, scooped up the same award in 2009. The festival, which heavily promotes its green credentials, impressed its auditor with its effective promotion of alternatives to bottled water, impressive rates of composting and recycling, and a commitment to sourcing products locally that stretched all the way to the stages, where several local bands were given the chance to play to new audiences. According to Sarah Haynes, President of the Spitfire Agency, Rothbury's greening consultant, "Rothbury works hard to have the minimum impact on the planet while having the maximum impact on its people. We always 'green' with transparency in the hopes that others will take notice and join us in this most important mission."

Two other US festivals won the award for the first time in 2009. California's West Beach event, held on the beach in Santa Barbara, joined the Atlanta Jazz Fest in garnering the awards.

All winning festivals will receive a special trophy designed by Sade Goddard from Keswick School in Cumbria, England. Goddard designed the award as part of a competition among UK school children. Her winning design features a Red Kite motif and is made from recycled plastic bottles, crushed CDs and remolded "Wellington" boots, a necessity at the perennially muddy Glastonbury festival.

The winner of the overall Greener Festival Award 2009 will be announced at the UK Festival Awards which will be held at the O2 Arena in London on November 19th 2009.

A Greener Festival co-founder Ben Challis said “We were worried that in a year when the recession bit hard we might see Festivals shying away from their ongoing commitment to green issues, but we have been generally pleased with the efforts of festivals around the world to keep sustainability high on their own agenda and to promote environmental awareness to fans. We had more ‘outstanding’ winners in 2009 and a 20% rise in applications from 2008, with more international applications than ever including five winners from Australia, four from the USA and four from mainland Europe.

The Greener Festival Awards are supported by insurance brokers Robertson Taylor.

STS9: More than Meets the Ear by Jason

This is a repost of the JamBase feature from today that can be found with full links, photos, and comments here:



STS9 keyboardist David Phipps talked to JamBase about the Katrina survivor who inspired them to donate all proceeds from their new remix to charity, the difficulties of being a socially motivated dance band, the group's new documentary, and locally-grown keyboards.

"We were in New Orleans for some gigs, and we were delivering the last amount of food that was donated [by our] Sector 9 food drive through the Conscious Alliance food drive system."  STS9 keyboardist David Phipps drops bombs like this often in conversation.  He's telling the story of how the band decided to devote their considerable annual fundraising efforts for a variety of charities to just one organization this year, Brad Pitt's Make it Right foundation.  And along the way, he casually mentions that the band is responsible for having generated multiple truckloads of food for food banks around the country. 

He continues on, downplaying the band's role.  "It was kind of a photo opportunity, to be honest, it's not like we're working in the back of every one of the trucks that's out there delivering the food.  We had this awesome local driver who got us there in the van and gave us this amazing tour of the town...he was giving us history and pointing out things that we would have never seen.  We asked him to drive through the ninth ward.  We had been there not long after the hurricane.  We got out of the van and not much had changed.  But there was this one street that had my dream house--totally sustainable, green built, world-class architect designed, and right next to that were a couple of FEMA trailers.  I didn't want to stare too much, it's like staring at a car wreck, but this guy came out and invited us into his FEMA trailer and showed us this 3-ring binder full of the business cards of the people who had visited and this videotape of his granddaughter's dance recital.  We were very much at home and told him that we were considering [a contribution to] Make it Right."

For years, the band had been donating $1 from the sale of every ticket to a variety of charities.  "We've always had kind of an activist stance from the very beginning of the band and that gradually...crystallized into a direct way of tying our concerts and activism through ticket sales," Phipps says.  The money had traditionally been split evenly.  One-third was designated for local Atlanta-area organizations like Mariposa's Art, an after school art and health program.  The second third went to causes nationwide including funding a project to help the students of David's brother Allan Phipps, a high school teacher in South Florida, design and build a solar-powered car that competed in the Dell-Winston School Solar Race from Texas to New York.  The remaining money went to a variety of international causes.  Over the years, as the band's popularity had grown, the donations had grown, too, topping the $100,000 mark in 2008.  "This year we kind of noticed that we were making some good dents in some things by splitting it up, but we wanted to see what if we put it all to one thing," David says.

So the band had been looking for a new cause for a while, but nothing had grabbed them until that chance encounter, a visit that occurred with some serendipity not because they were on tour but because they were delivering food to a food bank.  But taking the plunge on a new charity and breaking their old ties wasn't something they did lightly.  "It was a hard decision for me," Phipps says.  "That was my brother's solar car, Mariposa's art ended up going bankrupt this was a hard decision but I think we made the right one."

David goes on "We kind of decided [on our visit to New Orleans] that this was what we wanted to do.  And the full price tag for building a house [through Make it Right] was around $150,000.  We couldn't promise that we can make the connection and build this man's house, but we wanted to be a part of this effort.  Here he was however many years later....and still had all kinds of hope."  The band decided to find the funds to build a complete house, which meant that they would have find $50,000 more than they had already planned on raising.  They threw in all of the proceeds from their VIP ticket sales, but they needed more.  And so the Peaceblaster: The New Orleans Make it Right Remix was born.

They started out inviting friends of theirs in the DJ and hip-hop world to take on individual track and the project soon snowballed.  By the time they released the remix album, available online as mp3s for $0.99 each or $9.99 for all 30 with all proceeds going to Make it Right, the band had more than 30 collaborators including the Glitch Mob, Pnuma Trio, and rapper Abstract Rude.  To make room for everyone, the remix album stretched to a full 30 tracks, including no fewer than five different (and all excellent) versions of "Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist," the band's standout track from the original Peaceblaster album. 

Fans of the original album will be pleasantly surprised by the remix.  The production is top-notch throughout and the inclusion of multiple remixes of certain tracks lends itself to some outstanding experimentation.  "These tracks really come across as a heartfelt, true donation of [the contributing artists'] time and talent.  This wasn't something just thrown together.  We're really excited," says Phipps. 

One of the highlights for folks who like lyrics with their music will be the three different versions of "Hidden Hand" that are now new and improved with some stunning lyrics.  The versions range from dark (Abstract Rude rhymes ominously that "It's not all over just cuz one man 'came the president/Not to be negative but you know how the rest of us is") to cautiously optimistic ("all we want to do is improve the situation that we got before we pass it to you," riffs GFE) to nearly transcendent, as in the Lowpro Lounge's effortless intro segue from JFK's Ich Bein ein Berliner speech to Obama's inaugural address to Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream.  The 25 songs on the album not named "Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist" are every bit as good, and even though it clocks in at almost two and a half hours it stands up to repeated listening.

Phipps says that despite the band's strong ideals and progressive leanings and the forceful lyrics in the remix, they don't want to alienate fans. "We try to do it not in your face. We're not directly addressing the audience with a hard idea or statement," he professes.  "We throw up a bunch of dots that are obviously creating a connect the dots picture but we leave it up to you to connect those dots and that way you're participating, learning, and not just being told something.  If you wikipediad or googled 'Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist' or 'Metameme' you'd invariably come across an article that was talking about some historical or political or sociological idea.  And maybe by connecting [those dots] yourself there's a true sense of learning something as opposed to [it] being delivered as lyrics in a song. The ideas that there's clues embedded in this makes it fun for us....and hopefully fun for the fans" 

There's also a pragmatic aspect to the band's decision to keep politics and music somewhat distant.  He recalls the band's early years: "We were very inspired by the the 13 moon calendar...and it was so identified with us [that] for a good five or six years of our career nobody ever talked about our music.  It was always about Mayan numerology or something that was not necessarily what we were wanting to talk about when we wanted to talk about our band.  It really kind of overshadowed our music....We've learned to be a little bit more restrained in our [politics] and we feel like it's more effective."

Oh, yeah, the music.  When these guys aren't dropping off truckloads of food or organizing 30 friends to do a charity album or funding solar-powered race cars, they're also making some of the most original music around, and they're relentless in their drive to push the edges.  Writing songs can take years for the band, as each song may go through 20 or 30 iterations before they're finally happy with it.  Every member of the band plays two instruments, a laptop and something more traditional, and the computers are fully integrated into every step of the process.  "Most of our music, we'll have laptops and software and we'll start a song idea.  It gets imported into the studio computer.  Maybe the drums will be replaced by real drums, the bassline will be replaced by the bass player.  And we'll come back and [decide] we liked the original drums better, take the live drums out.  And then a week later the the live drums are back in and the bassline is being recorded," David explains. 

But after years of being known for the technicality of their music and their unique computer-driven sound, the band might be ready to pull the old switcheroo on fans. "We've gone...I don't want to say as far we can, but we've really gone headfirst into that whole methodology of creating music and being able to bring something that's bigger than your own instrument to the stage and pull it off--the laptop and the guitar.  But now the pendulum's swinging.  We find ourselves playing acoustic guitar and a real piano and trying to write some really beautiful progressions and melodies that are just really strong [and] timeless as far as technology.  The next round of Sector 9 might be completely different."

While the band is moving towards a more acoustic sound in some ways, it's beefing up the high-tech production behind the studio work.  The band has made improvements including the ability to mix 192 tracks simultaneously, to its recording studio, where the original Peaceblaster was recorded.  "We've really kind of made some leaps and bounds.  We've graduated from 'yeah, we have a home studio' to 'we actually have a recording studio here.'  We're getting more confident....and we've learned so much that [we've shrunk] the time that it takes.  We think we might have another 5 or 6 song EP coming out in the fall.  We've never followed up a huge studio album with another release just about a year later....I hope [fans will be surprised by the next EP]."

With the electronic focus fading from their live audio, it only makes sense that they'll move into the light shows that have arguably done as much to attract and keep fans as the music itself.  To that end, this summer's tour will feature a heightened role for the three huge LED displays that the band first experimented with last year.  Phipps gets especially excited when he talks about the lighting changes.  "The LED thing is going to be awesome this whole summer!" He exclaims.  "We brought in two really premiere video artists...we sent 10, 15 tracks to both guys to create original video content based on the borderline conspiracy big brother vibe that was underlying in Peaceblaster.  Our lighting designer, Saxton, is very much of the [Chris] Kuroda school and was moving towards more and more and more and more moving lights.  We wanted to do a video element for a while and just kind of pushed him over the edge.  [We don't want] to succumb to what people think we should be.  It would be really easy to just be that other techno-jamband with the Phish light show and call it a day but I think we can do better than that."

The band's not just experimenting with video on stage, it's even putting the finishing touches on a new documentary called ReGeneration.  What started as aseries of interviews with everyone from Howard Zinn to Noam Chomsky to Talib Kwali has morphed, like all the band's projects, into something more.  "We wanted to put out to the 11 year old kid who's wondering 'what am I going to do with my life' as an example that hey, we're artists that have made it living our dream, you don't have to live under the thumb of any institution.  It grew as we added more and more commentators and participants and interviews, it really turned into a motion picture on the role of media, advertising, parenting, environment, on how that shapes the apathy of an individual.  It really came to be a call to action against apathy.  You can make a difference and you're making a difference regardless, so what kind of difference can you make?  This is a great follow up statement to Peaceblaster and Make it Right and the vibe that was set by those projects....It's a good hour and 20 minutes of visual assault," David says energetically.

Phipps gets equally excited about some other new instruments.  "I got into modular synthesizers.  [It relates to] the buy local, sustainable vibe, as well as just the quality.  I would rather buy something handmade in Northern California than another plastic piece of shit Chinese keyboard.  So all of my gear efforts have gone away from plastic shit into this boutique stuff."

And just like that, he's talking about sustainability again.  Asked about the sustainability of next week's uber-green Rothbury, for which the band will be one of the main late-night attractions on both Friday and Saturday, Phipps says "Rothbury was a huge inspiration [last year], [it was] a relief to see that a festival could take that direction and really take it at its core. So much more can be done, [but] we're off to a good start....if you can have 100,000 people going home from a festival and they can know that an effort is being made and they can take that home and be inspired by it, it's at least a start."

Pressed about whether the band will start asking other venues and festivals it performs at to follow Rothbury's lead, Phipps admits that he hasn't thought of that, if only because until recently the band wasn't in a position to make that kind of demand.  "I haven't gotten used to our newfound fame...we've been doing this for 11 years and all of a sudden we're headlining a bunch of festivals.  Usually we're playing at 2 [pm]."

Their new popularity is taking the band by surprise in other ways, too.  Many fans know that the band is headlining a mini-festival of its own in Atlanta in August, pairing up with Lotus, Ghostland Observatory and labelmates Dubconscious for a day-long audiovisual treat.  What fans might not know is that this festival is something of an apology to fans.  "We got rained out of our last concert in Atlanta and had quite an angry audience on our hands.  We were sitting in our tour bus and they announced that the show was cancelled and the bus was being rocked by people leaving the venue.  We were kind of cracking up to ourselves, like 'this is some Guns 'n Roses shit right here.'"

The Greening of Bonnaroo 2009 by Jason

This is a piece that I wrote as a planned feature or newswire article for the main JamBase site but it ended up getting killed for a variety of reasons.  Since the folks I interviewed were all so nice and I wanted to publicize the good work that Bonnaroo is doing, I'm posting it now on the blog--a little bit late but better than never.




Whether you love Bonnaroo or hate it, no one can argue that the festival has been a trailblazer since it first launched almost a decade ago.  In every aspect of the festival experience, from the acts to the vibe to the crowd it attracts, Bonnaroo is the standard that we compare all other festivals too.  That's true for ranking a festival's sustainability, too.  Bonnaroo's organizers have over the years taken increasingly large and visible steps to limit the negative impacts of the massive event on the planet and nearby community.  Through 2008, they'd done just about everything under the hot Tennessee sun possible to green the event, a veritable laundry list of actions that included outreach programs, massive recycling, organizing buses to bring in fans to cut down on traffic, donating space to endless nonprofits in their Planet Roo ecovillage, recycling greywater from showers and sinks as dust suppression water, and countless other actions large and small.  Their efforts were rewarded with the rare "Outstanding" award from the British festival sustainability organization A Greener Festival last year.

But under pressure from "party with a purpose" competitor Rothbury, organizers knew that if they wanted to continue to be seen as leaders in the sustainability arena, they'd have to redouble their efforts.  Festival managers and sustainability coordinator Laura Sohn of AC Entertainment quickly got to work figuring out what worked and what hadn't at Rothbury and got to the task of making an already strong sustainability scorecard even stronger.

They started with the waste (see sidebar) .  Many fans were introduced to the idea of plant-based compostable cups, knives, and forks at Rothbury.  The disposable items, instead of rotting in a landfill, can be tossed in a compost pile and in a few months will be converted along with food waste into a nourishing soil amendment that can be used to grow plants.  Bonnaroo had actually been using these materials since at least 2007 and had already mandated that all its vendors make the switch to compostables, but many fans didn't know or care that they were supposed to toss their used beer cups into a compost bin instead of a trash bin.  So this year Bonnaroo will have about 1000 compost bins along with 1500 recycling bins and 1500 trash cans spread in clusters throughout the venue and campgrounds, and the festival clean-up specialists Clean Vibes will manage an army of volunteers called "Trash Talkers" who will help fans get the compostables, recyclables, and trash into the right bins.  Clean Vibes owner Anna Borofsky says, "
"It takes a huge volunteer base to get the coverage that you need to really do the composting.  One of these days it will be second nature to people that they can compost a beer cup or a fork, but right now we have to educate them."

The mantra of any good greenie has always been to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  While the organizers are recycling and reusing (as compost) as much of the waste as they can, they still needed a plan to help them reduce it.  As any festival-goer knows, one of the biggest sources of waste at these events is from bottled water.  According to Sarah Haynes, who runs the sustainability efforts at Rothbury and teamed up with Bonnaroo to reduce bottled water use in Tennessee, the average festival attendee goes through a staggering 24 bottles of water over a 4 day event.  Of course, festival promoters and vendors love the revenue stream from water, but with bottled water getting an increasingly bad name in environmental circles Bonnaroo decided to forego a big chunk of change and invite fans to bring in their own refillable containers.  The festival has always offered free water, but this year it has greatly expanded and improved its availability and taste with four locations offering free filtered water from new wells inside the main concert area.  For people who want the convenience of bottled water all over the venue without having to find one of those four water stations,
Bonnaroo is teaming up with Stanley nineteen13 for its Bottle-less Water Program. In addition to the usual free high quality well water, patrons who buy a limited edition reusable Bonnaroo water bottle will be able to get free filtered drinking water from beer stations throughout the festival. Stanley and Bonnaroo will donate one dollar per bottle sold to Global Water Challenge, an organization that is generating an international movement to meet the urgent need for safe water and sanitation.

With trash and water firmly under control, the festival was also able to do something this year that had been on organizers' wish list for a long time--it got a permanent electrical hookup for the Centeroo area.  Having a grid connection means that the festival has been able to cut back on the number of generators it needs by 70% and slash the amount of biodiesel needed.  While fans will still see generators in the camping areas, the concert area and backstage sections will be largely generator free.  This cuts down on noise, opens up space, improves festival air quality, and removes a huge number of sources of heat that make an already sweaty festival even worse.  The festival is currently recalculating its carbon footprint to account for this change and will purchase green power certificates and carbon offsets to make up for any extra emissions.  The festival is also planning a solar installation that will generate power all year long.

The last item on the checklist was sourcing products, especially festival food, locally. 
Bonnaroo buys as many supplies and utilities from its own Tennessee area as possible. The festival has also compiled a list of local food purveyors and farmers and handed it out to all of its vendors with strong encouragement to use it.  Vendors who don't get the hint may find themselves facing a mandate to buy locally in future years.   This is great news for foodies, as locally-procured vegetables are almost always fresher and tastier than the stuff that gets shipped across the country.

While organizers know that they have more work to do to become truly sustainable, they are also justifiably proud of the job they've done so far and the improvements they've made this year, especially with keeping the spending local.  As Laura Sohn says, "
"Being able to buy local offsets, being able to support local vendors, rural's an amazing thing."  It certainly is.  If you are lucky enough to head to the farm this year, make sure to check out all the new improvements.  Read all about the complete sustainability efforts of the festival and get more info on carpooling, buying your own offsets for the festival, and more at

A day in the life your festival trash.

Ever wondered what happens to the mountains of waste generated by the city-sized population that descends on Manchester, TN, every June?  Handling that waste is one of the organizers' biggest challenges, and over the years they've developed a range of strategies to help deal with it all.  Most of the heavy lifting is done by Clean Vibes, the well-known festival and concert cleanup outfit that has a history stretching back to Phish's It and Coventry festivals and beyond.  Clean Vibes organizes teams of paid employees and volunteers to handle all of the waste and leave the festival grounds looking as good as new after the event.  They maintain more than 4000 trash, recycling, and compost barrels around the festival and also run the Clean Vibes Trading Post where fans can turn in recyclables to get points for items ranging from a Butterfinger candy bar to an autographed Phish Poster.

Clean Vibes relies on fans to properly sort their waste. 
Educational signage and about 400 volunteer “trash talkers” will coach patrons on which kinds of trash belong in which bins at the festival.  Compostables are handled onsite on a gravel composting pad with special drainage--after a year about 90% of the compost's volume will have disappeared leaving behind a rich organic mulch that is perfect for gardening and is reused on the farm.  Volunteers pull out any noncompostable materials from the bins as they're dumped on the pad, a nasty job made even worse by the hot Tennessee sun, so if you're attending do them a favor and don't contaminate the compost! 

To manage all that extra compost, the festival has doubled the size of a backstage composting area.  According to Sohn, after a year the festival waste is completely broken down except for the occasional fork, the utensil she says seems to take longest to degrade.  Planet Roo will host a small demonstration garden using some of the compost generated from last year's event while Sarah Bush of Knoxville gardening outfit Edible Revolution will hold workshops on how to successfully make and use compost in your city apartment so that fans can carry on the good work at home. 

After it's all over, a second group of 400 volunteers cleans the site.  Recylable cans and plastic bottles are shipped off to Orange Grove Recycling in Chatanooga, a facility staffed by mentally challenged adults.  The crew at Orange Grove will return any compostable cups they find to the farm in Manchester to be composted.  Recyclable paper and cardboard are handled by local businesses in keeping with the festival's decision to support the local economy wherever possible, and the remaining waste, unfortunately, ends up in a local landfill. 

Clean Vibes owner Anna Borofsky says that in prior years approximately 20% by weight of the festival's waste was diverted to compost and recycling, and notes that while this sounds low compared to Rothbury's claim of over 80% diversion, Bonnaroo measures reduction in weight while most other festivals measure by volume.  This year they are hoping to raise the amount diverted by almost half to over 30%.

WANTED: Environmental Auditors for the Greener Festival Awards by Jason

Originally published at:

Click through for working links, pictures, etc.

WANTED: Environmental Auditors for the Greener Festival Awards

Thirty-two music festivals around the world picked up the Greener Festival Award in 2008 for implementing sound environmental practices at their events and helping in the fight against climate change and waste. To receive the Award, each festival must submit a four page application form with details of their green efforts. To maintain the integrity of the Award, each event is independently assessed by an Environmental Auditor. The Auditors verify the accuracy of each application and make their own assessment of the festival's environmentally friendly practices.

The Greener Festival Award is now looking for additional Auditors for the United States. This position is not paid but there is a $200 travel stipend per festival and festivals will also provide two tickets with limited backstage access for the Auditor and one guest. Most audits take between half a day and one full day to complete. The Auditor is expected to write up a short report on a pre-formatted form. The rest of the time at the festival is the Auditor's own to enjoy.

The Greener Festival Award is looking for festival fans that have a background of working live events or have a background in environmental science. Current Auditors include a venue manager, a journalist, an artist manager, a record company executive, a TV producer, a festival manager and two environmental scientists. Above all, Auditors must understand the workings of a music festival and have the confidence to ask questions about environmental practices at a live event.

A number of festivals around the U.S. have expressed an interest in receiving the award for 2009 and interested professionals with relevant experience from all areas of the U.S. are invited to apply. To apply, please email a resume or description of your relevant work experience and a short note explaining why you feel you are qualified to be an environmental auditor to by April 30 2009. Don't forget to tell them where you live and how far from home you're willing to travel.

Festivals interested in receiving the award are also encouraged to get in touch at the same email address or download an application package from

Panjea's World Community by Jason

This is a repost of the Panjea article that went up today on the JamBase features section at:'s-World-Community Visit the JamBase version for links, pictures, and comments.

"Considering that I was just out [listening to Snoop Dogg] there and he was saying, get stoned, get drunk, and fuck, and he had like thousands of people singing with him, I think maybe the political lyrics might not be as popular, but it's not going to deter me. I have to feel good about what I'm singing when I'm out there and the band has to feel good about what they're playing behind," says Chris Berry, leader of Panjea. "It's what I have to do; it's not a choice. It's not whether or not I even contemplate whether it's making it successful or not, it's just what we have to do." Berry is ruminating on the difficulties of being a political band in an era where politics and music don't always mix while Snoop Dogg finishes up his 4:20 p.m. festival set.

It's not often that you run into a band like Panjea that has a mission statement. Sure, past decades have yielded still-touring acts with strong political overtones going back to Bob Dylan, U2 and Rage Against the Machine. But the more recent wave of acts, with rare exceptions like Michael Franti and State Radio, have opted to leave politics out of their music. Enter Panjea, an Afro-pop collaborative with big goals. Specifically, the group is a "project set on healing the world." The band takes its name from the supercontinent Pangea, and their goal is to use music to unite people as closely as the continents were once united.

GreenBase was lucky enough to catch up with the band over the summer at Rothbury (read the Roth review here), where for most of the weekend band members were scattered all over the giant festival, sitting in with Railroad Earth and State Radio, assisting with the art installations and even teaching the crowd how to play a giant flying monkey drum set. With band members living in New York, Boulder and San Francisco and constantly on tour with their various other projects, it's not often that they all get together in one place. Over the course of an hour, we talked about the fragile political situation in Zimbabwe, the challenges facing the next U.S. President and the opportunities for music to have a positive impact on people and the environment.

The collective, made up of a core group of about six musicians but often exceeding a dozen people in its rare stage appearances, blends political sensibilities with insanely catchy African rhythms and instruments. Listening to the group perform at Rothbury, it was hard to believe that anything this melodic and danceable could be a song of protest. That's partly by design, according to trumpet player and keyboardist Danny Sears.

"I read a lot of the fan mail that comes in, the forums and the MySpace page, and I can tell you that seeing what people write in, they're very moved by it," says Sears. "I think the people that we do affect are affected in a very positive way. The people who want to be reached, are reached. Some people are swayed in the right direction, but you're always gonna have people who are just not into it but maybe they enjoy the grooves and they feel the music and we can reach them that way."

Sears, like everyone in the band, is truly a musician's musician and definitely knows a thing or two about grooves. Casual music fans might not know these names, but they probably know the bands that Panjea's members have played with. When he's not jamming with Panjea, Sears frequently appears with Railroad Earth, Guster and The String Cheese Incident.

The String Cheese Incident, not coincidentally, is one of the reasons for Panjea's initial success. SCI mandolin and violin player Michael Kang is the most famous member of Panjea. Like almost everyone else in the band, the South Korean-born artist has spent plenty of time outside the U.S., and these experiences have informed both his politics and his music. SCI fans accustomed to the apolitical nature of that band might be a bit surprised to hear Kang speak so passionately about issues like globalization and its effect on the environment.

"Our way of life transcends national boundaries. It's coming to the time where we are not going to have to look at what's going on in our backyards but recognize that the planet is our backyard," says Kang. "It's a matter of just recognizing, being grateful for what we have. The first thing that we all have the power to do is just conserve the stuff that we use."

The band's political and environmental messages have strong roots in Zimbabwe and southern Africa, where Berry spent nearly a decade learning the mbira, a traditional African thumb piano, as well as the ngoma drum. Berry became a star in Africa by the time he was 23 and soon started to impress musicians on this side of the Atlantic. A chance meeting in New York sometime around 2002 or 2003 with current band saxophonist Chris Cuzme soon led to the introduction of Berry and Sears and the beginnings of Panjea. In 2006, Berry and Kang traveled to Africa for several months and they returned for a second trip in 2007. It was while living in Zimbabwe that Berry met Zimanai Masanago, Panjea's guitar player. Masanago, a bandleader and songwriter in his own right, also pens political songs written in his native Shona dialect. "Shona culture uses a lot of proverbs," says Masanago. "When elders talk to each other and to children, they use proverbs and very simple things to talk about very big things. That's the way I approach the songs that I write in Shona for our band, Pachedu."

Chris Berry - Panjea
"I think the main issue is economic and political survival on a daily basis, just keeping your head above water," says Masanago about southern Africa. "People are trying to survive, so the issue of environmental awareness is really a secondary issue." In places like Mali, the fourth-poorest country in the world with a per capita income of about one dollar a day, economic and social issues take priority over environmental issues, although he maintains that "people are really connected naturally to their environment." But these issues don't stop people from having a good time, even in the face of poverty so extreme that bands can't afford the gas to go on tour. But, he points out going on tour isn't really necessary. "Most of the countries like Zimbabwe are really small. So people just go play and come back home."

Coming home is a bit of an issue at times for some of the band members. Several of them, like Martinique-born bassist Patrice Blanchard, have spent so much time on the road that "home" has become somewhat of a nebulous concept. And although all of the band members are currently based in the U.S., some of them are worried about the political future of the country they now call home.

"I'm not American, but I'm so concerned about your next election," says Blanchard. "If you guys [make] the right choice, the American President being very influential, that could change the whole landscape. Bush could have been one of the most important presidents for starting the green revolution, but he decided not to. The next one has to. Otherwise, I think I'll move. I'll go to Australia, where the environment is a big issue. I'll go there [laughs]."

Kang, on the other hand, isn't having any of this talk of moving.

"I'm not a [U.S.] citizen either," he says. "I've chosen to stick around and become a part of the solution. When I [traveled] to Africa, it made me realize this is why I've spent so much time in the States, because there's actually something we can do about it. That led me to want to get involved with becoming part of the solution in whatever way [I can]. If we're not going to do it, nobody else is. I'm not going to count on any politician to do it for me. We can find ways to do a lot of this in our communities."

Community is a reoccurring theme throughout the band's conversations and music. Panjea is, after all, a band focused on transcending geographic and political boundaries and bringing people together. In a world where we are increasingly disconnected from each other despite the ease of being connected at all times, the band is using its music to bring us together. So, it's not surprising that Berry wraps up our conversation with a message to JamBase readers about community.

"I just want to say how thankful I am to JamBase and all the fans who are a part of it, because it's really a forum in which musicians can be empowered. It feels like we're taking the power back to the people through JamBase. It's a real forum for us to communicate directly to the fans, as I like to call them."

Panjea play this Friday and Saturday (12/12 & 12/13) in San Francisco and two nights in Colorado for New Years. Complete dates available here).

Panjea recently re-released their entire catalog digitally through reapandsow. You can check it out here.

Peats Ridge Announces Full Lineup by Jason

Peats Ridge, the Australian music festival that might just be the world's greenest festival, announced its full lineup yesterday. Not being Australian, I've never heard of any of these bands, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to go to this festival in the worst possible way. Partly it's because it looks like one New Year's Eve party that actually doesn't suck, partly it's because January in Oz looks to be a damn site better than January in Boston, and partly it's because it looks like quite possibly the prettiest festival venue on the planet.

And if none of the more than 200 (!!!) musical acts, including sultry Aussie beauty Kara Grainger, do it for you, there's always the pure pleasure of being in a festival that sets the bar for all other green entertainment happenings. Check out this short list of what's being done at the festival: "100% biodiesel generators, odour free composting toilets, grey water management, container deposit system, organic waste composting, reclaimed materials for decoration, certified organic food at our stalls, biodegradable cutlery, onsite bike couriers, natural ink printing, chemical free cleaning products...and the list goes on!"

And before you say that it sounds like Rothbury or Bonnaroo, take a moment to ponder that the festival started in 2004 as a purely green festival, long before the idea caught on on this side of the Pacific, and that they're doing things that neither of the big two US green events are doing yet including using composting toilets and commissioning full environmental audits.

If you're one of the lucky ones who gets to the festival, make sure to let us know how it was in the comments! Meanwhile, enjoy this video of Extended Family, Australia's Best Blues Band of 2006, performing at the 2006 event.

Interview with The Crystal Method's Ken Jordan by Jason

This is a modified version of the original, found here:


Over the summer, GreenBase noticed that The Crystal Method's Ken Jordan was one of the most-involved artists with the green discussions happening at Rothbury.  Then about a month ago, TCM released a remixed version of Barack Obama's speech set to the band's 1999 classic "Now is the Time" at the Democratic National Convention as a free download.  Since the band is better known for being a hard-partying electronic music outfit than a political or socially motivated act, we thought we'd get in touch to see what was going on.  Ken Jordan, one-half of the band, took time out of a busy DJ tour schedule to speak to GreenBase contributor Jason Turgeon.  He called us from his new Ford Escape Hybrid while sitting next to his girlfriend, Janine Johnson, the brains behind the non-profit group Green Wave Enterprises, and we discussed the upcoming election, his evolving green views, and a recent fundraiser on a solar-powered stage, among other things.

We're not quite sure how Ken has found the time to go green and get politically motivated since he's also busy doing a fall North American DJ tour, preparing to release a new album, and prepping for a live tour in support of that album, but we're glad he's making it happen.  Make sure you grab a copy of the "Now is the Time" remix from the band's website.  If you're into electronic music make sure to check them out as they swing through your area on the DJ or live tour.  In the meantime, enjoy this interview and don't forget to vote on Tuesday!

JamBase:  You were really involved at Rothbury with some of the Think Tank things...and then you [released] the new Obama remix.  Tell us what's on your mind.

Ken Jordan:  We just did an Earthdance fundraiser at my's like a yearly thing where there's events all over the world, you know?...It's like the rave version of Earth Day.  It raises all kinds of money for nonprofits.

You did that at your house? 

Yeah, I've got a nice pool, we did it at the house.  We had Adam Freeland there, and Scott and I had fun.  We did it with Greenwave.

So you're a closet greenie!  When I was [doing research] on you, I was looking around for some kind of signs that you were some crazy Greenpeace supporter and I couldn't find any.  This [seems like] it's all kind of new for you guys.


It is new for us.

Was there a moment that triggered this for you or was this something that you'd always kind of thought about?


Well, my girlfriend really started opening my eyes to everything (laughing).

She's sitting right next to you in the car?


Yeah (laughing).  Once you start opening your eyes, everything starts getting really clear and obvious, you know?

So how long ago would you say that was?

Probably about a year ago.

So now that your eyes are open what kind of things are you seeing?  Are you greening stuff in your house or on your tour?

Well, I'm driving in my hybrid.  I got rid of my Range Rover and got ... [a Ford] Escape hybrid.  I'm really hoping that when we do our next live tour next year that we can get a biodiesel tourbus.  That would be really cool.

How about the current tour?

We're trying to green our rider...we're trying to do things...with less of a carbon footprint, trying to do less of the plastic bottles of water, everything that goes to waste or landfill.  Some promoters and clubs are receptive and others aren't.  A lot of the problem is that some of the times when we get booked our old rider goes out, but we're working on that.

Are you getting positive response to the new Obama mix that you put out?  Are people OK with you all of a sudden becoming a political act where you weren't before?

Well it's obviously pro-Obama, but we're really trying to put it out there as a pro-vote kind of statement.  Although it's pretty clear who we would be favoring in the election, we're really trying to tell people to register and to vote.

Is this a song that you're going to be playing in some of your club dates this fall on your tour?

It made its club debut last night in Anaheim and it went over really well.

I saw you at Rothbury and you were all over the place.  Was there anything at Rothbury that caught your attention, anything you'd like to see other people do? 

Well, lots of things, but the one thing I...sort of discovered at Rothbury...was about how a lot of this stuff has to be legislated.  You can try to get people to recycle or reduce their carbon footprint, but until ... governments legislate some of this stuff, I think it's going to be really hard.  I really found out how important legislation is and how that might be the key to fixing everything.  Sometimes people just won't do the right thing unless it's against the law not to.

So were you a voter before this?  You're talking about legislation and encouraging people to vote.

I'm a lifelong democrat, but I've lived in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and I really haven't been exposed too much to the green world.

How's Scott [Kirkland, the other band member] with all of this?  Is he on board with it or is it kind of your thing?

Yeah, he's fine with it.  I think for the most part any non-serial killer, once they're exposed to this stuff, is for it, you know (laughing).

That might have to be my lead quote there.  You just wrote the headline for me:  anybody who's not a serial killer is into this (laughter from Ken and Janine).

It's not so hard to do, it's fun to do, you feel good about doing it.  Overall, it's a good experience.  You end up happier when you're not wasting and not polluting.

That's something that I wanted to talk about.  It seems that whenever we start talking about doing things that are good for the planet, people get very serious.  You guys are a band that's all about having fun.  Have you found that it's hard to reconcile a positive message with people having a good time?

Well, we haven't come across that yet.  I was gonna say something that might get me in trouble, but maybe I won't.  I was gonna say we haven't hit the heavy right wing areas yet.  Who knows what will happen when we play the Obama song in Alabama? (laughing).

So what's next for you?  You're talking about biodiesel tour buses and driving hybrids and supporting politicians.  Are you going to continue down this road for a while or are you going to continue just making good strong party songs?

Well, I really want to work with Green get this whole greening of the electronic community going.  Just simple things to start with, just changing the rider, just having actual towels from the bar instead of having paper towels, having actual glasses for the bar instead of plastic cups or plastic bottles of water.  Just simple things like that which don't cost any money at all, real no-brainers.  I think once given the opportunity, where it's no additional cost to anyone, I think people will really be into it.  And I was going to say that when we did the Earthdance event, we were all solar powered for the sound system and everything.

Was that something you built yourself or were able to rent pretty easily?

No, this company Sustainable Waves donated the system for us on that day.

So it worked out, you didn't have any equipment problems or anything?

Actually, DC power is the best stuff to run on anyway.  If you've got good battery power, you never have any spikes or anything.  It's really clean power.

Turning to your music now, what do you guys do to keep your live shows special?

We've always approached our live shows from, which we'll be doing again early next year, from more of a concert point of view instead of a DJ point of view or a rave point of view.  It's always worked out really well for us, treating each song individually with beginnings and ends instead of one real long continuous set of music.  And even though it's just me and Scott up there, we're playing as much stuff as possible live from our keyboards and samplers and stuff.  We're talking about maybe bringing out a couple of musicians, maybe bringing some vocalists, on this next tour.

So the tour you're on now is a DJ tour?

Yeah, and that one goes through Christmas.

And I understand you're putting out a new album?

Yeah, our new album will be out in January of '09.

Are you going to have any kind of green or political stuff on the album?

For the physical release, there are a few different green packaging options out.  We'll have to figure out which one we like the best. 

How about the songs themselves?  Are you going to put the Obama mix on the CD?

It might be on there just as a bonus track.  Lyrically, I don't know if we're going to be doing anything particularly preachy.  We generally try to stay away from that in our song titles and lyrics.

Update on the blog's status by Jason

Regular readers might have noticed that the blog has been inactive for about a month. Don't worry, we're still going to keep bringing you the best news about green music issues around. There have been some big changes behind the scenes, and now's the time to announce them.

First, Sarah Krasley, who started this blog and was its guiding force for the first 18 months, has decided to move on to greener pastures. We're very sad to see her go but know that she'll be successful in her future projects. Thanks for everything, Sarah!

Second, the folks at JamBase, the parent site of this blog, have decided to make the green news a little bit more widespread! That means that about twice a month, readers of JamBase will see GreenBase stories mixed right onto the front page, instead of having to hunt us out over here. The upside is that our stories will be professionally edited (no more typos!) and we'll have more time to research them. The downside is that there won't be quite as much content.

So what does this mean for the blog? Well, there will be a little bit less content on it. When we post stories to the main JamBase site, we'll link to them from here. And if we find newsworthy items that aren't quite important enough to make the front page of JamBase, we'll continue to do short writeups. Other than that, not much will change. The blog will continue to exist for now and we'll continue to keep on digging up the best in green news.

Thanks for reading!

Jason Turgeon

Apple Greens the Nano by Jason

This news is now a couple of days old, but it's worth repeating. In response to a ton of heckling from the outside world and an organized campaign by Greenpeace, Apple has started to make good on a promise to detoxify its products. With Al Gore on the board of Apple, this has been something of an embarrassment for the company for quite a while. The new fourth-generation Nano finally makes a break from some of the nasty metals and chemicals that make our beloved little gadgets into little environmental gremlins. Eco Tech Daily has some good coverage:

Specifically targeted: reducing lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and PVCs in
computers and home entertainment components. Apple has also been giving some
thought to its packaging, opting for biodegradable materials and reducing
unnecessary bulk wherever possible. This summer’s 3G iPhones shipped in
Styrofoam-free trays made from potato starch.

Arsenic-free display glass
Construction free of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs)
No use of mercury
No use of PVCs
Highly recyclable metal casing

I'm not sure what "highly recyclable" means, but it's clear that Apple is at long last starting to take this important issue seriously--all those toxic chemicals are bad for the planet, bad for the manufacturing crews, and might just be bad for the end users. The company has promised to make similar changes to its entire product line by 2010, so look for more announcements like this in the next few Apple product launch extravaganzas.

For more on the topic, see this ABC News story and the official tech specs from Apple.

Le Cabaret Vert brings Green Music to France by Jason

Google's newscrawler turned up a nice find for me today with an English-language piece from Radio France International about a festival called Le Cabaret Vert. The festival is named after a poem by Rimbaud, who came from the same Ardennes region that the festival is held in. This year the event celebrated its fourth anniversary over the last 3 days of August.

The piece is available both as an article and as an audio piece (caution-Windows Media Player file) complete with a full-length track from an Atlanta-area hip-hop band. It's particularly interesting to note that the festival's reputation isn't based on the quality of music but instead on being a green festival that happens to have good bands. As unlikely as that might sound to American audiences, they managed to draw 35,000 to this year's event, about the same number of people who attended Rothbury.

Unfortunately, there's no English language version of the festival website, so I wasn't able to read about the specifics of what makes this festival so eco-friendly. The article mentions lots of recycling bins and an area where fans wash their own dishes instead of using disposable foodware, but other than that I'm not sure how this event stacks up.

Here's some kind of a promotional video for the 2007 version of the festival. I'm not really sure what's going on, but the French-rock soundtrack is pretty entertaining. Enjoy!

Cake Gets Solar Powered by Jason

Zoinks! I hadn't realized that it's been 2 whole weeks since my last post. Life's been exciting on the non-music front for me, with the purchase of a new home and a big move taking up all of my available free time. But now things are settling down and I can get back to what's really important: bringing you the hottest green news from the music industry.

Today we're going with the short and sweet approach to posting. It seems that the oh-so-catchy funkster-horn band Cake has caught the solar buzz. They've gone and installed solar panels on their studio in the Big Tomato and are claiming that their upcoming sixth studio album will be recorded with 100% solar power.

Get all the pertinent details here, and enjoy the video documenting construction below.

In other green news, make sure to check out the band's rideshare board on their website. Sadly, it seems woefully underused, possibly because it's not very well advertised.

Green Festival Awards Announced by Jason

The folks over at UK-based A Greener Festival have been doing some great work to green festivals over the last couple of years. My primary contact there is Ben Challis, one of three co-founders. Ben works for Glastonbury, the mother of all festivals and a festival that's been incredibly proactive on the greening front for many years.

Last year, A Greener Festival started a festival certification program that got quite a bit of press coverage, and this year they've doubled the number of festivals that participated. The certification program is voluntary. Festivals fill out a 54-point self-assessment form and send it in with $200. A Greener Festival spends the money on travel costs for volunteer auditors who visit the participating festivals with a copy of the self-assessment and verify each of the items. I'm sure that there are folks out there who will find some flaws with the point-based system or the items on the form, but it's a whole lot better than nothing. As the old cliche' goes, let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.

Since this is a US-based blog, I'll point out that the sole participating US festival as of press time was Bonnaroo, which was singled out for being a "beacon of excellence." This is well-deserved praise, as Bonnaroo was an early leader in the greening of US festivals and takes its greening very seriously.

Other international (i.e., not in the UK) festivals include a handful of Australian festivals, although regrettably not Peats Ridge festival, which was cancelled this year due to extreme rain before the event. Peats Ridge, for those of you not familiar with it, is quite possibly the greenest festival in the world. A similar program called Green'N'Clean is run by YOUROPE for continental European festivals.

The next round of announcements about the awards will be made in September, and on October 30 A Greener Festival will give out the actual awards, in three categories: Improving, the basic A Greener Festival Award, and Outstanding.

Congrats to the participating festivals and kudos to A Greener Festival for putting the spotlight on the industry.

Full Press Release below.




Eighteen UK and international festivals are the first recipients of the prestigious 2008 Greener Festival Award for their efforts in promoting environmentally friendly music festivals. In the UK, recipients of the leading eco-award included Latitude, the Glastonbury Festival, the Camden Green Fair and the Cambridge Folk Festival, all praised by the award organisers for their green efforts. In the US, the Bonnaroo Festival was singled out as a 'beacon of excellence' and in Australia three festivals, Falls Festival, West Coast Blues & Roots and Bluesfest all received the Greener Festival Award.

The Award is based on a seven part questionnaire which covers event management, travel and transport plans, CO2 emissions, fair trade, waste management and recycling, water management and noise pollution. Points are awarded for festivals which can show an active plan to promote public transport, reduce on-site waste, recycle and compost wherever possible, re-use water and use sustainable power. Festivals are expected to have a coherent environmental policy and organisers has environmental auditors who visit as many festival sites as possible to assess how festivals implement their plans.

A Greener Festival co-founder Ben Challis said “we are very encouraged that so many more festivals are making an effort go green and adopt environmentally friendly practices. Some festivals are going through a steep learning curve to improve their green credentials, others are old hands now who keep improving year on year. The UK and international festival scene is now making a concerted effort to be a leader in protecting the environment and fighting climate change”. He added “applications for the award are double those for 2007 and standards are undoubtedly higher with some great new innovations ranging from new green power sources, to better public transport solutions to biodegradable tent pegs.”

So far in 2008 the Greener Festival Award winners are

Big Session Festival
Camden Green Fair
The Cambridge Folk Festival
City Blues Festival (Leicester)
The Glade Festival
The Glastonbury Festival
Hard Rock Calling
Leicester City Blues Festival
Lounge on the Farm
02 Wireless Festival
Workhouse Festival
2000 Trees

The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (USA)
Bluesfest - Eastcoast Blues & Roots Festival (Australia)
The Falls Festival (Australia)
West Coast Blues n Roots Festival (Australia)

Here is what the environmental assessors said about each festival

Camden Green Fair
London's Camden Green Fair, which incorporates London's Bikefest, promotes a green ethos and a green lifestyle. This year was the 17th annual Camden Green Fair, and the Fair ran on 100% sustainable energy with hydrogen cells powering the site office, recharging the electric buggies used for site transport and providing back up power for the main stage. The Fair hosted the Mad Hatter's Sustainable Tea Party and broke a World Record with the Intergenerational Fair Trade Tea Dance as well as hosting initiatives for greener homes, greener energy and a speakers forum.

The Cambridge Folk Festival
The Cambridge Folk Festival has made real efforts to organise a sustainable event and promote sustainability. We were very impressed with just how clean the festival was with excellent on-site recycling facilities, a good public transport policy and excellent plans to work with Julies Bicycle, the cross music industry initiative on climate change, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2009.

Download won the 'most improved' festival in the 2007 Greener Festival Awards and organisers Live Nation built on this in 2008 with travel planning and carbon offsetting offered to the audience. A new artist briefing booklet that explained the festival’s environmental work was given to performers who were encouraged to improve their own carbon footprint with handy hints and tips. The deposit system for recycling introduced in 2007 was continued and audience recycling in the campsite was encouraged and further promoted.

The Glade
An award winner in 2007 The Glade had an on site sorting point where all litter is searched through by hand with estimated 70% of all waste, including cans, bottles, paper card and some plastics recycled. There is on site composting for food waste and compostable plates and cutlery. Organiser Nick Ladd said "Previously our waste has been sorted for recycling off site, but we were never sure how effectively it was being done - by taking it in house we now know we are making a big difference to our landfill impact".

The Glastonbury Festival
Jay-Z’s headline slot may have grabbed the headlines but Glastonbury continues to promote sustainability. Always inspirational, Glastonbury's 'Love the farm, leave no trace' really worked in 2008 with everything from biodegradable tent pegs, a fleet of bio-tractors running on sustainable bio-diesel from waste vegetable oil, totally compostable beer cups and the always innovative and informative Greenfields, Glastonbury is a worthy winner of the Greener Festival Award for the second year running.

Hard Rock Calling & 02 Wireless Festival
London's Hyde Park was home to these two festivals headlined by Eric Clapton, Jay-Z, the Police and Morrissey amongst others. The excellent public transport solutions in London are already there to minimise audience travel carbon footprints. The waste cooking oil from site is refined off site to be used as sustainable biodiesel. As audience travel forms a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions from out of town festivals, city based festivals which utilise public transport have a distinct advantage in being sustainable – and Live Nation’s 02 and Hard Rock Calling are in the heart of London.

Lounge on the Farm
Set in the beautiful Kent countryside, Lounge on the Farm has excellent on-site recycling, a solar powered cinema and amazed us with a fantastic range of local suppliers providing everything from local fruit and pies to local beer - saving on those food miles. The festival also does a lot to promote sustainability with a shuttle bus to and from Canterbury's rail and bus terminals and an excellent website.

Latitude has set itself out to be at the forefront of sustainability and organisers Festival Republic have introduced some marvellous initiatives including a fuel-cell powered stage. 'Campers Waste Kits' are given out to the audience so they can sort waste for composting and recycling and the now much loved souvenir beer cups which clearly reduce plastic and glass waste have been instrumental in making Latitude green, clean and beautiful. At ten bags of compost per bag of landfill coming out of the arena, the audience really took to composting their food plates and leftovers.

Scotland's T-in-The-Park has been carbon neutral since 1996 and goes to great lengths to protect the local environment and waterways. The festival promotes public transport and works in partnership with Perth & Kinross Lift Share. Recycling facilities are found throughout the festival site and T's website is excellent - the 'Green T' section covers environmental efforts made by organisers as well as information for the audience to reduce their environmental impact.

Workhouse Festival
All profit from the Workhouse Festival goes to support the Llanfyllin Workhouse project - a charitable environmentally sustainable community project. Workhouse prioritises local traders to reduce food miles and makes every effort to re-use or recycle materials and the festival’s power is sourced from ecotricity and from renewable sources.

2000 Trees Festival
2000 Trees is a great small festival surrounded by gorgeous countryside and the organisers work hard to keep the festival clean tidy and fun. The Maker Green Team pop up everywhere In their noble crusade to leave no recyclable uncollected and the relaxed friendly crowd seem to make the effort to tidy up after themselves which is a refreshing change. Looking around the floor it is hard to spot any litter and many revellers feel safe to wander barefoot through the site (which was a bit muddy this year!). The organisers are enthusiastic about their efforts to be an eco-friendly gathering and it is inspiring to see many stalls handed over to local suppliers and to organisations promoting environmental messages.

Big Session Festival & Leicester City Blues Festival
The Big Session Festival won the ‘greenest festival’ public vote at the 2007 UK Festival Awards and was also the winner of the 2007 Greener Festival Award. Joined by the City Blues Festival, the organisers of the Big Session are proud of their environmentally friendly practices. To reduce CO2 emissions at De Montfort Hall, no generators are used and all power is taken from the councils eco-tariff supply – this, coupled with a city centre based location and a good transport policy substantially reduces the event's carbon footprint. Complete Wasters handle the festivals’ recycling and look out for plastic bottles, cardboard, paper and glass, collecting compostable food waste and pint glasses. Composing reduces what would have gone to landfill by 20% and recycling some 50%. To add to this, in 2008 the Big Session Festival undertook a comprehensive environmental audit and also promoted a lightbulb give away - donating energy saving lightbulbs to customers who pledge to use them.

The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
The Festival continues to take progressive steps towards mitigating the event's environmental impact and in 2008 new initiative included a car-pooling competition where vehicles with four or more occupants could win VIP tickets, an extensive recycling and on-site composting programme and excellent environmental education and campaigning in the now famous 'Planet Roo' village. All food is served with biodegradable warps, plates, cups and cutlery, local food and drinks are promoted and horses have replaced vehicles wherever possible.

West Coast Blues 'n' Roots Festival
Our assessor reported that the West Coast Blues 'n' Roots Festival excelled in sustainable energy with a real commitment to renewable energy resources and the audience was invited to offset their own carbon footprints with a 'plant a tree' scheme. With good onsite recycling it was encouraging to see that the majority of stallholders were local and that a number of environmental organisations and charities had been invited by organisers

Bluesfest (East Coast Blues & Roots Festival)
Winning the award for a second year, our environmental auditor said that Bluesfest had a 'very effective' environmental policy with a host of good ideas and the festival was 'really setting high standards in communicating sustainability to audience members'. The festival has good travel and transport plans and excellent recycling on-site - volunteers patrol the site using anything from drama to poems to song to highlight environmentally practices

The Falls Festival
The Falls have a really good approach to promoting public transport (ferry, coaches and bus) as well as promoting car pooling for staff. Our environmental assessor was very impressed with the festival's innovative composting toilets which were marked as excellent as well as on-site composting of food waste, again, clearly very effective. The Falls promotes local suppliers with local cheese, wine and beer all available on-site. The Falls worked with Greening Australia to ensure that 30,000 trees were planted around the site with each ticket sold. Their tickets were printed on 100% recycled paper with soya ink via their ticket provider GreenTix.

These are the first of the 2008 Awards to be announced. There will be second announcement of further Awards which will be made in September 2008 when the UK and US festival season ends. All Awards will be confirmed at the UK Festival Awards which will be held on October 30th in London.

see A ‘not for profit’ company

Connecting the dots with Saul Williams by Jason

On the Sunday morning of Lollapalooza, I dragged myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 8 AM, sulked through a shower, did some last minute research on my interview subject, and hopped on a city bus to get to Grant Park. I arrived a few minutes ahead of my scheduled 11:15 slot and found a relatively peaceful media tent. The man I was slated to interview, Saul Williams, was curled up catlike in an oversized plastic Adirondack chair, finishing up an interview with a TV crew, so I set up my laptop nearby and did a little eavesdropping.

Saul Williams, dressed to impress before his mid-day set at Lollapalooza.

Williams, the slam-poet/spoken word artist/culture jammer/musician whose song "List of Demands" - nominally about reparations - made its way into a Nike commercial earlier this year and spawned legions of arguments about whether Saul Williams was selling out to Nike or conning them into distributing his message, strikes many people as angry. Hell, he wrote a song about reparations for slavery fer cryin' out loud. A song with lyrics like "I ball my fist and you're gonna know where I stand." So I, predictably, had a slam-dunk question about Saul's anger, but with a green slant.

Fortunately, the interviewer in front of me fell for the trap first. He put on his serious-question face and asked this man--this articulate, educated, unafraid black man with an almost-mohawk and tight yellow pants who is dangerously close to being the new face of black America for a media that is seemingly unable to confront or even acknowledge racial issues in this country--about his anger. And he got his ass handed to him for doing it. Williams' answer: "I don't think I'm angry. A lot of people seem to think I'm angry but I'm not sure why." Flabbergasted, the man with the microphone found a way out of it somehow and moved onto other questions. I tried to stifle a giggle and praised my luck for not having pressed snooze once more on the alarm clock, for I surely would have repeated the gaffe.

A few minutes later, while the ill-fated interview was wrapping up, I overheard a journalist with a major music television network explain to Saul's press liason that her interviewer and cameraman had apparently exhausted themselves too thoroughly at one of the afterparties around town to make it in to the press tent and conduct their scheduled interview. This is where Saul Williams' career is today. He's big enough to draw a sizeable crowd at Lollapalooza yet gets more publicity for a 30-second Nike ad than he has for his previous 10 years' worth of work, he doesn't seem to rank high enough for a television crew to get out of bed for an 11:30 AM interview because they were too busy trying to get footage of some blonde lesbian sending text messages the night before, and everyone wants to know why he's pissed off.

On the brighter side, the television defection leaves me with extra time to talk to the man of the hour. I find him to be completely relaxed and frighteningly intelligent. My first impression of Saul reminded me more of Hannibal Lecter than anyone else I can think of. He's used to being in control, charming, smart, witty, and so intensely focused that when I finally hit him with a question that grabs his interest I'm afraid I'll wilt under the pressure he puts back into his answer. Fortunately, as I find out when we begin our conversation about the greening of music, he's also a vegan, so my liver is safe.

He unintentionally draws blood early in the conversation. I've been a conflicted carnivore for the last couple of years, continuing to eat at McDonald's even after watching Super Size Me, enjoying steak even after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, putting away Boston Market chicken like it's my job even though I read Fast Food Nation more than 3 years ago. Williams doesn't know any of this, of course, when he wraps up his discussion of the merits of veganism by saying with a laugh, "You'll hear me focus a lot on diet when we talk about the environment, because I have a really hard time interacting with environmentalists that eat meat." Inside, I'm cringing--he's pegged me for a phony, and I immediately vow to give being a vegetarian another shot for all the reasons I know that I should.

But while I know that I shouldn't eat meat because it's bad for me in the quantities consumed by a modern westerner, because I know that the way we produce meat in western society is responsible for some of the greatest environmental damage on the planet, and because I know that confined animal farming operations are grotesquely inhumane both for the animals in the system and the migrant workers who do the butchering, I'm not quite prepared for what Saul's about to drop next.

"Well," he says in response to my query about the possibility that we could raise farm animals in a more humane and environmentally friendly manner, " a person that's a member of a race that used to be deemed as animal, I know what it feels like to be treated as animal, and I think until we upgrade our understanding of compassion and spread it beyond human....there's racism but there's also a sense of speciesism that exists. And it's because of our arrogance as a species that we ruin...and exploit the earth the way that we do.... And so I think that we have to...connect the dots in order to experience any real change in society....if we shifted our focus on being compassionate towards wildlife and animals, then everything else would be a domino effect. That would be us treating the forests, the oceans, water supply, we'd treat everything better as a result of just focusing on animals."

That's pretty heavy stuff, and a lot of it is true on some level. I'm still not prepared to cede the point that after a few dozen millenia of us co-evolving with a handful of other species, we should just abandon those species. The vegan v. carnivore debate, however, can all too easily turn into Roe v. Wade or Brady v. Heston, so I don't pursue it much further.

What about other, less controversial green issues? Saul tells me that he did his last tour in a Dodge Sprinter powered by biodiesel, and that finding biodiesel was a bit of a challenge. Then he jumps in to discuss the music industry's least favorite topic: declining CD sales. "I believe that technology is here to free us from the constraints of history....I was able to release my album for free online digitally, meaning that I initially did not use any plastic or whatever-it is on vinyl and CDs now, in limited distribution-but we started for the first six months digitally."

Of course, he made waves when he released the album digitally for free on his website, but it's a surprise nonetheless to see him make an explicit connection to the waste generated by CD manufacturing. After all, CD sales are a big part of his bread and butter-substitute income. I ask him if he thinks artists will be able to survive in the new digital era without physical record sales to support them. His answer is refreshingly honest, and characteristically to the point:

"Artists have survived through time. Artists will always survive. Will every artist be able to live off of their art? That is never the case. But more artists today will be able to live off of their art than 10 years ago, 100 years ago. We may not all live as extravagantly as some in the past, but even those who lived extravagantly in the past, all that stuff is based on exploitation, and it's harder to exploit because people have upgraded their sense of awareness and realized their power a bit more. But we'll be fine."

He continues on with a discussion of the consumer side of the equation. "People are holding onto what has worked in the past. For some that's damning and for some, it's a lesson to be learned. We're still selling CDs, and they are selling. But digital downloads are a huge business and people are learning to value streamlining. A lot of people don't want to unwrap the plastic. But there are some in a consumer culture that don't value what they're given unless they get to unwrap it and open it and look at it and hold it in their hand. So it's an interesting time, it's a crossroads that we're at."

What about fans downloading his album on bittorrent, where I found it, or some other P2P application? Does he have a problem with that? "Not at all, I gave away my album for free, and the main reason for doing that was to honor the fact that they could do it anyway. The only thing that I gained by giving it away for free in that sense was instead of them doing it from peer-to-peer, they were able to get it directly from me, which meant that I could monitor it, that I could add some email addresses to my fanbase to, you know, press send on poems that I come up with every now and then and want to share."

Eventually, we move back around to the greening of Lollapalooza. Having just arrived in town the night before, Williams demurs to speak on specifics. But he notes without the slightest trace of detectable irony, given his breakout song deal with Nike, that Lollapalooza is heavily sponsored by multinational corporations that might not share Perry Farrell's green agenda. "The problem comes in when you start accepting money from all these different huge sources who don't have the same vision as you. There has to be a way to maintain that vision and to maintain control, but it's hard when you have all this money coming from different corporations who have their own list of demands."

And with that, I'll leave you not with List of Demands, but with one of his other anger-management classics, Grippo. Enjoy, and keep an eye out for a possible Saul Williams schwag giveaway in coming weeks.

Saul Williams isn't angry.

Sorting the Green from the Greenwashed in the VIP lounge by Jason

In a weekend where I met Perry Farrell and spent 20 minutes talking to Saul Williams, the most interesting interview I got was with the owner of a backpack company. The story of how we met is a lesson in the murky waters of modern marketing theory and the new desire by corporations to portray themselves as green.

Leading up to Lollapalooza, I was bombarded with communiques from various PR firms offering interviews with the lesser-known bands. In the flurry of digital activity, I almost missed a somewhat confusing invite to a pair of events so laden with sponsor names in their titles I couldn't even figure out what they were the first time I read the message. The official titles were "The Music Lounge Presented by at Hard Rock Hotel Chicago for the 2008 Lollapalooza Music Festival" and the related "Eastsport Cafe and Spin Acoustic Stage." This was apparently some sort of VIP event, although the press, including random government employees moonlighting as bloggers, was also welcome. Never having been invited to any kind of VIP shindig before, I decided to check it out, even when I found out that the Hard Rock Hotel was a 20 minute hike from the press tent at Grant Park.

Once on scene, I found controlled chaos on two floors of the Hard Rock. Various cool-looking people in designer garb with three-figure haircuts milled around, listening to music, eating some very appetizing food in the cafe, and--depending on their level of importance in the music world pecking order--being "gifted" (a new verb!) with various goodies ranging from jeans to free tattoos to backpacks, which you could fill with other items you'd been gifted with. The lower floor featured the aforementioned "Eastsport Cafe and Spin Acoustic Stage," which turned out to be a place to get free food and drink and listen to a few live tunes. The whole thing was sponsored very prominently by something called Eastsport Natural and the Ben Jelen Foundation. I had no idea what was going on, except that it seemed to be some sort of mass exercise in branding and consumerism, and that Eastsport was very clearly trying to up its green cred.

The level of branding, in keeping with the overall theme at Lollapalooza (brought to you by AT&T!) was intense. I wanted to follow up on the green angle, so I asked for more info. The Fiji water given to every diner in the cafe (label carefully positioned to face outward) was green, my PR handler assured me, because the company is "carbon negative." The Fuze drinks were green, too, now that they had switched from that environmentally pernicious glass bottle to a new, easier to recycle plastic bottle. Eastsport was the most prominent green corporation there with a new line of green bags to push, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Ben Jelen foundation. Ben, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, was promoting his own personal green brand, too, with 6-foot-tall pictures of his face lurking around every corner.

I was ready to call bullshit greenwashing on the whole thing and leave, but the promise of free food and margaritas was too much for me. Plus, it was air-conditioned, and that first day of Lollapalooza was a bit too much like a day in Manchester, TN, to pass up a chance at climate control. I agreed to do a few interviews so I'd have something to keep myself occupied and not feel like too much of a mooch. We arranged that I would come by on the following morning to speak to a few folks. On my arrival, I stood near a tall, muscled man covered in tattoos who looked so much like a slightly younger Henry Rollins that I had to sneak a peek at the back of his neck to make sure that the telltale Rollins barcode wasn't there. Looking for a quiet spot to do interviews, I was directed to the now empty room where the private afterparty concerts were held. The only place to sit was on the stage, so I plugged in my laptop and settled down on a riser.

My first interview was with Bruce Starr of BMF Media, the promotion company that arranged the event. He explained that these VIP rooms give the glitterati a chance to get away from the masses and have a meal in relative peace, and that they were common at events like Sundance but relatively new to the music festival world. This was just one of a series of Eastsport Natural and Spin Acoustic Cafe VIP events being held at music festivals around the country, with others at festivals including SXSW. The camping festivals haven't yet reached this level of cultural importance, apparently, which is why I'd never seen one of these before. And he assured me that this was indeed a very green event, what with the recyclable plastic bottles and carbon neutrality and green backpacks and all.

Next up, I got to spend 20 minutes with Ben Jelen (pronounced yellen). He's a strikingly good-looking man in his mid-20's, with soft features and long black hair. I'm pretty sure that this is what Michael Jackson wanted to end up looking like, even though it didn't quite work out that way. He's also a lot smarter than the blog posts on his foundation's website let on. After reading his exclamation-point laden missives about compressed-air cars and the benefits of organic gardening, I hadn't really expected a mature conversation, but it turns out that he's got a degree in biology from Rutgers and knows his environmental stuff backwards and forwards. This is not a guy who's jumping on the green bandwagon, or a guy who's greenwashing. Instead, he's an astute marketer and a bit of a realist. In his own words, "I think the most important things are the consumer vote. Where you put your money in a capitalist society is going to speak loud and clear as to what you want and where you're going."

To further his desire to see the world become a better place, Ben puts his capitalist money where his mouth is. It started a few years ago, when he had early financial success with his first album. He gave a chunk of change to the NRDC, enough that they took notice and had some conversations with him. Perhaps inspired by that, he started the Ben Jelen Foundation in January of this year, with a four-point approach (education, lobbying, humanitarian relief, and investments in clean energy) that he hopes will approach the whole problem. So far, the young foundation has only raised about $12,000, but he's also partnered with Fiji water to send about a dozen New York youth to Fiji for some first-hand environmental live-and-learn activities, and he has the new partnership with Eastsport Natural, which is donating 10% of its proceeds to his foundation. Color me suitably impressed. I was beginning to get the impression that this event wasn't just so much greenwashing after all, despite the celebrity hoo-hahs and the suspect claims of carbon neutrality from Fiji water and the questionable green cred of Fuze's new plastic bottles.
But none of this really explained the Eastsport backpack connection to me. Why was a low-end bag manufacturer with 50-foot displays at every Wal-Mart in the country wrapping itself in green, and what do $20 backpacks have to do with rock music? I was assured that my final interview with the "Eastsport rep" would clear things up. As I sat there on the stage where Sharon Jones had given a private VIP-only show the night before, now my private interview room, I pulled together a few questions.

Ben Jelen (in hat) and Joseph Janus.

None of these questions ended up getting asked, though, because when I met the Eastsport "rep," I was more than a little surprised by who showed up. My interviewee was Joseph Janus, the Rollins lookalike I'd been standing next to earlier, and he wasn't a sales rep, he was the principal of the company. Beyond that, he's also the man behind Fearless Management, the artist management firm responsible for getting Ben Jelen signed on to Madonna's Maverick record label. All of a sudden, the dots started to connect.

Janus has a classic American success story. He skipped high school entirely to skateboard, but after an injury at the tender age of 13 he started JMCO, a successful blue jeans company. He eventually sold that and continued on in the world of fashion and marketing with stints at Calvin Klein and Guess. Along the way, he also picked up the Eastsport backpack company from its founder, and now the company is the number one backpack manufacturer in the world, according to Janus. But there's a problem with his manufacturing business, and he knows it: Eastsport's current manufacturing process just isn't sustainable. He's blunt about the issue: "This is a company that makes...affordable plastic backpacks...we ship like 800 million backpacks. Now, the problem with that is how do you get 800 million people to go from buying a $24 backpack to a $50 or $60 backpack? It's very difficult to be green."

But just because it's difficult, or perhaps because it's difficult, Janus hasn't given up or given in to the greenwashing I originally suspected him of. He's researched the issues thoroughly and is determined to be a part of the solution the best way he knows how--through marketing and consumer education. But after a career as a marketer, he didn't want to fall into any ethical traps. "You'll see things that are marketed as 100% organic cotton, but with the lining and the filler and everything else, it's actually 20% organic cotton. It's a big lie and it's a big marketing ploy and I didn't want to do that with Eastsport," he states defiantly. He continues on to say that "what we decided to do was come up with a line of backpacks that instead of being $19.99 or $24....was 100% biodegradable. I didn't worry about organic, because organic is not what's important [ed. because of the lack of regulations surrounding "organic" labeling]. What's important is biodegradable [and] where are these backpacks being made. They're not being made in China, they're made in the US. They're being shipped local to source. They're going into warehousing that's close to that district. I really went 100% in a way that would make this as environmentally friendly as possible, with telling the truth and not using it as a marketing ploy."

Janus, like the young environmentalist Ben Jelen whose career he helped launch, is passionate about the environment but also a realist. As he puts it, "I would love to be in a position where I could say we only make natural backpacks. That'd be great. But I'd be out of business." So Janus, the skateboarder/fashion designer/music manager/green backpack manufacturer, is breaking all the rules, seeking out biodegradable plastics manufacturers, bringing manufacturing back to the US, and trying to spur demand for green manufacturing components to a level where economies of scale can kick in and these products can be cost-competitive with more traditional ones. Right now, it's a losing proposition, financially speaking. He says that after donations to the Ben Jelen Foundation, investments in alternative energy in China, and the added expense of green components for his bags, his company doesn't make any money on the Eastsport Natural line even though it has a price tag that's 2-5 times as much as his plastic backpacks. "Because," he says, "the big, ugly story of green is how affordable is it?"

And that's the crux of this weekend. Lollapalooza is capitalism in all its ugly glory, rock and roll devoid of sex or drugs, a money-making machine as sinful and sanitized and finely tuned as the new Vegas. The festival, despite what appears to be a heartfelt desire by top management to be greener, is still all business. The stages are sponsored by MySpace and Bud Light, the entire event is underwritten by a phone company, even the green area is sponsored by Whole Foods. Despite the fact that the 3-day event cleared almost $10 million in 2007, according to Spin, any greening has to pay for itself, with the result that it's hard to tell if the festival is green or greenwashed. With a finely-honed cash cow like this, no one is taking any chances. But we need risk-takers to get out of the business-as-usual mentality, and in the vacuum of leadership from above, it's entrepreneurs like Janus who are taking charge. Eastsport, surprisingly enough, is taking a flier on the green line of bags. This isn't greenwashing, this is an entirely earnest experiment, one that combines the marketing of a young new environmentalist filling a void--the complete dearth of musicians not named Michael Franti willing to tackle the environment in their art--with the marketing of a new product line that isn't making any money, all in the hopes that the two of them together can convince consumers to go green and stay green, not just give in to green marketing.

Janus wraps up with some optimistic thoughts. "What I'm hoping is that the consumer starts wanting green products. If the demand is there, then I have to make more green backpacks and I have to find a way to make them less expensive. I can't wait for that to happen....I'm very interested in seeing a healthy planet become a reality." Let's hope he succeeds, and that he can stay true to his vision of a green product that lives up to its marketing. And as for the "carbon-negative" water...well, I'll leave that for another day.

Full disclosure: I was offered a bag, and agreed to take it, but they were all gifted out so I left empty-handed. That said, we're probably going to be giving some of the new Eastsport Green bags away on the site in the near future.

8 minutes with Perry Farrell by Jason

Perry Farrell is an indie-rock icon. Besides being the frontman for Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros, he started Lollapalooza, the grandfather of the modern American music festival scene. Besides making Lollapalooza happen every year, he's also putting out music as DJ Peretz. He's known as such a tastemaker that getting a song onto Perry's iPod is probably a surer path to fame than getting signed by a major label. He's passionate about the environment and music and sees the connection between the two, and he's definitely not afraid to speak his mind.

Perry was kind enough to give me a brief interview at Lollapalooza where we talked about the roots of his environmentalism, fancy new energy-efficient speakers, and the environmental folly of CD production. Enjoy!

Perry Farrell at the Saturday morning press conference.

Jason Turgeon: I know you've been making a lot of steps to [green Lollapalooza] over the last few years. Can you tell me a little bit more about what you've done?

Perry Farrell:
In 1991, we started working with Greenpeace. Back then, I wanted to have a bit of goodness and a bit of charity and a bit of non-profit on the grands. Back then it was a table and some pamphlets and some recruits. But I started to inform myself through meeting these people and became an environmentalist and wanted to do a better and better job. Of course, as the evolution of things like the biodiesel generator came to be more practical and accessible, we installed them on the grounds, and companies began to form [to] carbon offset people's travel and energy expenditures. We were able to find those companies and work with them. I'm really really happy to report that we were a completely carbon offset company this year, save for the audience themselves. You can't force them, but we are giving them information on how they can offset themselves. [Ed. Note: At the BeGreen booth where I paid $5 to offset my travel, the volunteer working the booth told me that about 10,000 fans had chosen to participate in voluntary offsets.]

JT: So you say you became an environmentalist. What prompted that?

Well, as I say, it was meeting people that were involved in the environment, number one. But number two, I'm also an extreme sport athlete. I love snowboarding and surfing, specifically. Those of that use the outdoors as a pasttime are very very aware. When you go surfing in Southern California and there's oil slicks in the water and plastic floating in there and you end up with a rash on your arm for having caught a couple of waves, you quickly become alerted to the problems and you start to look for solutions.

JT: That's happened to you, [you've gotten] rashes?

You know, I don't get the rash, my friends get the rashes. But I get a little itch from time to time, and I wonder what's that from, and I go, wait a minute, I was surfing this morning. But the oil slicks, they're there, man, they're there...Every day, there's a caution. Every day, we go on surfline to see how the surf is. Water conditions: caution, hazard, caution, hazard. It's never like, nice, great, go in.

JT: So you have some bands here that are known for being very environmentally conscious. Radiohead is especially known for being very forward on this. Did they do any work with you on this festival? Did they ask you to do anything special?

No, but they did ask their audience to inform themselves on the travel. I thought that was very nice, but I think that was very nice, but it was purely on their own behalf, not on Lollapalooza's behalf. They've invited the audience to do something similar to what we're doing, which is [saying] here's how to carbon offset your own travel to our shows.

JT: Did you see their light show last night?

I sure did.

JT: Do you know about the light show? They designed this new LED light show that uses about 1/6th as much power, so they got rid of all their generators for the lights

Yeah, we have down at Perry's [stage] sub[woofers]s and speakers now that are operating on like a 1/16th of what the power was. They don't have any amps for the speakers...The company comes out of Italy. DB speakers.

JT: Have you been happy with them so far?

The sound is incredible. We're actually practically getting complaints from the neighboring stages because our subs are so fierce.

JT: You're Perry Farrell. Everyone in the industry knows you; everyone outside the industry, even if they don't know who you are, they know what Lollapalooza is. You have all of this power to change attitudes. You have kind of a bully pulpit. Are you going to be more forceful in what's coming out of you in environmental terms, with what's going on?

Well, I have been outspoken. In 1995, I went and set up a show right off the grounds of the White House with Greenpeace and performed out there. I've been applying a constant pressure in the way of ecology and environmentalism. But what I can tell is this: There's a lot of people to apply pressure to. We're talking about six and a half billion people. We all have to count each other, even the people in the rainforests are our brothers and sisters. It's not going to be easy, but you do it in increments, you do it by doing what you're doing. Make awareness fun and easy. Make it easy for people, and there's usually no issue. It's when you force them to kind of reach really deep into their pockets.

Actually, the funny thing about environmentalism is, by being an environmentalist, by changing, there's a good chance you can actually save or make money. And that's the big thing that we've got to get out to people. Changing that light bulb, that light bulb lasts longer and your bill goes down. Or if you're changing your business or your factory, you're actually saving money because you're saving the energy output. I tried to change the entire music industry last year. I was signed to Sony. I said to Sony I want to put out no more CDs. There's no reason for it, I want to go completely digital. Well, they could care less. I was trying to explain to them, look, you lower your production costs, you don't have to print up anything. It takes 2.2 pounds of carbon to create a CD, and you have a distribution outlet through the internet, so what's the problem? You can lose this big building, you have all these people. They didn't want to hear it, but guess what? They're losing fucking money and they're gonna do it eventually anyway, so there you go. I put my music out now through Beatport and Beatsource, which is a purely digital distribution company that all the DJs are using. So there you go man.

Lollapalooza Green Roundup by Jason

Overall Green Score: B
Lollapalooza gets high marks for a location that practically demands fans use public transit, accomodates bikes, and makes use of an existing public park. The festival also scores well for giving generously to the Parkways Foundation. On the "needs improvement" front, there's no meaningful effort to engage fans in the sustainability initiatives, the waste management plan, while well-developed, needs a Rothbury-like overhaul to get to zero waste, there's no dedicated green coordinator or consultant, and the "Green Street" area is little more than a token gesture. This is a festival that needs to reevaluate its green goals to stay current but has serious potential to recapture a position of leadership if management can match its words with actions.

Lollapalooza's green commitment, found tucked behind a curtain in an obscure booth in the well-hidden Green Street area, reminiscent of the plans to destroy Arthur Dent's home.

Full Review:

Lollapalooza turned out to be a much more intense experience than I'd anticipated, largely because of the crowds. This year marked the festival's first sellout at Chicago's gorgeous Grant Park, with 75,000 people streaming through the gates each day. That's about the same size as the nation's other granddaddy of festivals, but on a much more compact site.

Logistically speaking, the festival operated with the precision of a Rolex. With so many years of experience, Perry Farrell and the C3 crew have had plenty of time to work out all the bugs. From the press area, head and shoulders above the press tents I've seen at other festivals, to the weather--a hot and humid but dry three day stretch sandwiched between strong thunderstorms on Friday morning and Monday--it seemed like everything was coming up Lollapalooza this weekend. The only real hangup was the waiting. When I arrived Friday about 1, I saw what is without exaggeration the longest line of people I've ever laid eyes on, a line that stretched several city blocks in both directions, with people standing 6 abreast. Once inside, lines for the chemical toilets, which remained remarkably clean throughout the weekend, often reached 30 minutes. Getting a beer could also be a challenge, especially if you didn't want a Bud Light--the line at Leiderhosen's micro-brew* beer tent was over 30 minutes.

The lines on Friday stretched for blocks.

The truly remarkable thing about all of this was that despite the human queue, there was no automotive traffic associated with the event. Walking from the bus stop, I saw plenty of Lollapalooza-bound foot traffic but otherwise anyone visiting downtown would have had no idea that there was a smaller city within the city just a couple of blocks away. That's an amazing feat. Sure, some folks (myself included) arrived by taxi, and a sizable chunk of people (again, guilty as charged) flew in, but once in Chicago almost everyone used public transit. Parking lots just blocks away from the festival were empty all weekend. It's a testament to picking the ideal location for the festival--a beatiful site in a city large enough to accomodate the extra traffic, with plentiful hotel options and a robust public transit system. Other festival organizers involved in multiday noncamping city festivals should consider this as the model for what to look for in a festival location.

Buckingham Fountain, the centerpiece of Grant Park and the geographic center of the festival.

So organizers tackled traffic by picking a near-perfect site location, but how green was the rest of the event? To answer that question, I hoped to catch with Stacy Rodrigues, the festival's de facto greening coordinator and the replacement for Shanda Sansing, who I talked to last year. Unfortunately, despite several attempts to track her down I never got a chance to meet her, presumably because she was swamped with other details including non-greening work. C3 doesn't have a full-time greening coordinator on staff despite running three large festivals a year. That's a troubling sign, and one that showed through as I looked for signs of green life around the venue.

Lollapalooza and C3 talk a good game about greening efforts. There is a decent section of the website dedicated to green efforts, Perry Farrell and one of the C3 organizers made a special point of mentioning the green efforts at the Saturday morning press conference, and Perry even gave me 8 minutes of his time to talk about green issues. In other words, there is a strong interest in making this festival sustainable at the top levels of management. That's crucial for any greening effort, but by itself interest isn't enough. Implementation is also essential, and that's where the event fell short in places.

Take waste management, for example. The festival brought on Clean Vibes this year, and every waste station had a recycling bin. Over in the festival's Green Street area (more on that later), there was a Rock and Recycle stand where patrons who brought in 5 or 10 pound bags of plastic beer cups and water bottles could trade the trash for a reusable shopping bag or a T-shirt. Rock and Recycle also had teams of people walking through the crowds with bags to collect recyclable bottles and cups directly from the fans.

A waste station shows signs of strain.
Roving "Rock and Recycle" teams collect bottles and plastic cups.

All of these are great steps, but the message definitely wasn't getting through to the fans. When we left after Saturday night's Rage Against the Machine show, it was like walking across a sea of crushed plastic. The sound made by 10's of thousands of us walking on so much plastic was downright eerie, and noteworthy enough to elicit lots of comments from the strangers around me. After Rothbury, with its hundreds of compost/recycle/landfill stations manned by volunteers and an impressive marketing campaign to get patrons to use them, this was a bitter crash back to business as usual.

Post-concert trash didn't always make it to the waste stations.

Speaking of composting, the Green Lolla section of the website mentions that foodware in the food service area was all compostable, but given the long lines for food and the ease of getting food outside of the festival, I never felt the need to stop by and check it out. Still, since I didn't see any composting bins anywhere in the festival grounds, I'm not sure what good having compostable foodware would be. The website also mentioned a certain amount of local and organic food, something I should have made a point of investigating, but to be honest this wasn't a food-lover's festival--there were far fewer places to get food than I would have expected, and given the distances between stages and the crowds, my group of friends tended to a certain efficiency of motion that precluded a swing over to the food area.

The press tent was plush, but the free perks generated plenty of waste.

Even though I didn't manage to sample the festival food, I did make a visit to the small "Green Street" area tucked away into a well-hidden corner. Here, fans could offset their carbon purchases for $5, learn about Chicago's well-developed citywide greening initiatives, buy a variety of recycled art from a handful of local vendors, and visit a huge display from Whole Foods. Compared to similar areas at the other festivals I've been to, this one was among the smallest and had the least information about green initiatives. It's symbolic of the festival's approach to greening--an afterthought tacked onto the event, rather than a centerpiece.

Reggie McGuire of local Chicago retailer Futurgarb shows off a handbag made of recycled Chicago Transit maps at Green Street.

The festival's other green initiatives were all fairly standard, although not unimportant. There was biodiesel (of an unknown derivation, in an unknown percentage of biodiesel to diesel) in the generators, recycled paper throughout, and a very sizable donation to the nonprofit Parkways Foundation. There was also the pledge of $1 million from organizers to renovate the magnificent Buckingham Fountain that is the centerpiece of Grant Park and of Lollapalooza.

Overall, this is a festival that seems to have reached stasis on the green front. The organizers mean well, but greening is clearly not the top priority at an event where every one of the 8 stages is named after a corporate sponsor and even the green area needs a sponsor. The greening efforts here are more than a token gesture, but they don't really seem to be looking to improve year over year, and they definitely aren't engaging the fans. Despite the enthusiasm from management, there's a general lack of green awareness throughout.

*Despite the moniker, "micro-brew" was an optimistic euphemism. There was one true small-brewery beer, Chicago's 312, but it was sold out when I got there. The other options were paragons of local craft beer like Stella Artois and Bass. Beer snobs everywhere were suitably disgusted.

Lollapalooza onsite quickie by Jason

I'm starting Day 3 of Lollapalooza and so far this festival has delivered big for the fans. Musically, it's a complete triumph, with a stellar performance from Rage Against the Machine last night and a very solid set from Radiohead the night before. Other highlights have included a riotous Gogol Bordello set, a high energy stomper from Cadence Weapon, and what sounded from the press tent like a tremendous set from Yeasayer. The crowds are already rolling in now for an incredibly strong final day featuring the John Butler Trio, G. Love and Special Sauce, Black Kids, and the National, but the real buzz seems to be about both Saul Williams and NIN, including a rumor that Saul and Trent will appear on stage together during the NIN set.

Speaking of Saul Williams, I grabbed an interview with him this morning and I'll have that transcribed later this week. I was also lucky enough to get a few minutes with the man himself, Mr. Perry Farrell, so look for that by week's end. I'll also have a review of the Eastsport Cafe, an offsite lounge area for artists, press, and assorted VIPs that's stationed just up the street at the Hard Rock Hotel. It turns out that Eastsport's owner is a big environmentalist and has started a new line of biodegradable bags. The brand is giving a healthy chunk of the proceeds to the Ben Jelen Foundation, the environmental charity started by the up-and-coming crooner. I have interviews with both Joseph from Eastsport and Ben Jelen to work with and when I publish the piece in about 2 weeks I hope to have a couple of the new Eastsport Natural backpacks to give away. We'll dream up some uber-clever green contest thing for you to participate in.

But while Lolla's been a success from the music and weather fronts, the Greening initiative leaves a little to be desired. It's not bad, but last night leaving Rage I walked over a sea of empty water bottles and smashed plastic cups, and after Rothbury it's kind of a letdown to go back to business as usual. I'll have a full green writeup in a day or two. For now, it's back to the music!

Jack Johnson's Green Side in the news by Jason

Most fans know that Jack Johnson and his label Brushfire Records are big on green business. In fact, I've been asked by his publicist to do a segment on the label, including interviews with G. Love and Special Sauce and others, later this summer. But today CNN is running a pretty good piece that sums things up nicely, so I thought I'd point it out. The CNN piece is here, look for my coverage with even more detail to come in late August.