Sheryl Crow’s carefree new album is a nod to her rediscovered Southern roots; for the past five years, she’s lived in Nashville. Its title, “100 Miles From Memphis,” is a reference to the Missouri town where Crow was born. The breast cancer survivor and mother of two is positive and buoyant these days; last week, she appeared as herself on an episode of Hannah Montana, singing a duet with Miley Cyrus; in March, she played a wine sales rep on ABC’s Cougartown.
Crow has also been bragging about her current tour, which stops in New Hampshire on Thursday, Aug. 12.
“It’s a completely new band,” she said in a recent interview. “I’m taking out a specifically soul-based group with horns and everything. It’s totally kick-ass.”
But in 2008, the singer-songwriter released Detours, a pointedly political record that took aim at the Iraq war, consumer culture and environmental woes. The latter, addressed on songs like “Gasoline” and “Shine on Babylon,” made Crow a good choice to headline the third annual Greenerpalooza concert and energy fair at Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion.
For the show, the Gilford shed’s midway will be transformed into an “eco-village” filled with vendors showcasing wind, solar power and alternative energy sources. “Being environmentally conscious has always been important to me,” Crow said in a statement, adding, “utilizing concerts as a background for environmental education is a great way to reduce the huge carbon footprints that shows can have.”
With help from the New Hampshire Business Resource Center, the event’s first two years focused on many obvious ways that Meadowbrook could go green. The venue implemented single-stream recycling, began offering on-site biodiesel for tour buses and switched to cups made from post-consumer recycled materials.
But those efforts didn’t really begin to address the impact a modern rock tour has on the planet. For that, the venue turned to Reverb, founded in 2004 by Guster guitarist and vocalist Adam Gardner and his wife, Lauren Sullivan. The organization builds on the connection between musicians and their fans to raise awareness and support for the environment.
Reverb has worked on tours by the Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Bonnie Raitt, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morissette, Guster, O.A.R. and String Cheese Incident and more. Beginning with the 2010 concert season, Meadowbrook became one of the first venues to work with the organization. At last month’s Maroon 5/Guster show, Reverb set up an educational “recycling basketball” booth where fans could shoot hoops with crushed cans and plastic bottles. Later, they brought the booth to the Aug. 3 Paramore concert (where a hybrid Civic from tour sponsor Honda was also on display).
For the Crow show, Reverb will help coordinate the B20 biodiesel fuel effort and assist with backstage waste reduction and recycling. As part of an initiative begun this year, there’s a new onsite drinking water tank, and reusable water bottles are now given to everyone working at the show.
Additionally, locally grown food will be served to tour personnel, something that was done with great success for two Zac Brown Band shows in July. At an “eat and greet” that included fans and tour staff, more than 125 people for each show dined at a meal catered by Bean and Greens, a small farm in Gilford.
“Zac Brown went over there and basically bought the farm,” said Meadowbrook marketing director Chris Lockwood. “Brown’s chef cooked it up for the guests. They’re class guys. They took all the employees from Beans and Greens to the dinner, introduced them to the dining crowd and explained that all the food was locally grown.”
The effort helped a local business, but more importantly, it meant that food had to travel a shorter distance to reach the venue. According to Lockwood, that’s the most important lesson learned from Reverb. “Seventy percent of the energy used comes from fans riding to the show,” he said. In light of that, Meadowbrook will be working to introduce car pool options for fans, along with a carbon offset program planned for next year.
At checkout, ticket buyers will have a chance to calculate the cost in carbon dioxide of their concert trip and make a donation to an organization that invests money from carbon offsets in clean energy projects.
“Once we get our full plan formalized, we’d like to fund a project right here, and possibly pay for part of our solar panel project,” said Lockwood, who has long lobbied for the installation of photovoltaic arrays on the pavilion’s roof.
New partners were recruited for this year’s Greenerpalooza. Citizens Bank will tout Champions in Action, an initiative that helps fund deserving nonprofits, as well as its other charitable endeavors. There are a total of 35 sponsors, up from 25 in 2009. A “green army” of volunteers will be dispatched to collect recyclables and distribute seed cards to concertgoers.
Staying green, said Lockwood, is a never-ending effort. “We’re conscious of it now. Right now, I’m sitting here in my office with the lights off as an energy-saving practice.”
“Greenerpalooza has been great at opening people’s eyes to the potential of a greener, more sustainable future,” said New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Communications & Legislative Director Steve Boucher in a press release. Boucher has worked with the venue on the event since its inception in 2007. “By using the unifying force of music, we are able to help citizens to become more energy-efficient, learn about new technologies and share a positive environmental message with their neighbors.”