A carbon-neutral club trek connecting environmental awareness and music is powering up to hit 35 U.S. cities this fall in the leadup to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol at a United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen.
But unless organizers score some green, the Eco-Lectric Tour’s biodiesel-fueled tourbus is staying put.
Eco-Lectric tour and development manager Lori Meadows explained that while an outing of this size and complexity might typically take a year to prepare, organizers have had about a month to pull together all the elements.
“We’re basically looking to make between $100,000 and $200,000 just to get the tour out on the road,” she told Pollstar. “The musicians have all agreed to go without payment for this because they feel so strongly about the cause. We’ve talked to a lot of our vendors who’ve either quartered or cut their prices in half.”
Eco-Lectric, which will feature singer/songwriters Will Dailey, Jonny Dubowsky of Jonny Lives!, Shotgun Honeymoon and Wil Seabrook, is partnering with green-cause nonprofits Rock ’n’ Renew and 350.org to educate audiences about the climate crisis and put on community sustainability projects at each stop along the way.
A major component of the Oct. 6 to Nov. 15 trek will be promoting 350.org’s upcoming day of action Oct. 24. The day serves to bring awareness to efforts to reduce the carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere from current dangerous levels of 390 parts per million – which have caused the polar ice caps melt at an alarming rate – to a sustainable 350 parts per million.
Dubowsky, who founded Rock ’n’ Renew, admitted that the discussion of reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere isn’t exactly a “sexy concept,” but it’s one that can be reinforced with young people through rock ’n’ roll.
“That’s a big reason why we’re doing this tour,” he told Pollstar. “We want to travel the country, collecting voices of young people and old people alike, letting the leaders of the world know that this is important, that this is dire, and that it’s something that people feel really strongly about.
“Already 80 of the world’s nations have signed on to this number 350 that needs to be in [the protocol]. America hasn’t yet.”
And to localize the idea of climate consciousness, Rock ’n’ Renew will teach concertgoers about rain barrels, installing 350 at tour stops around the country that can be used to irrigate food gardens.
“That’s where something like a climate treaty, although it resonates when we talk about it, I think needs to resonate from a point where it’s also, ‘What can I do in my front or back yard to help reduce the levels of CO2?’” Dubowsky said.
While the concept of “green” touring has gotten tossed around a lot in the last few years, Eco-Lectric organizers aren’t just talking the talk, but walking the walk.
All artists on the tour are traveling on one bus, Dubowsky explained, and will be backed up during performances by Will Dailey’s band with an added bass player.
Venues along the way are being consulted by Eco-Lectric on how to become more sustainable as well.
“We’re helping them look at their suppliers and how they power their facilities,” Dubowsky said. “Many of the rain barrel projects that we’re going to be doing will be at the rock clubs themselves because of our limited time in each city … so that more rock ’n’ roll kids and music kids can see it in action.”
Concertgoers will be encouraged to rideshare to shows with free ticket giveaways and merch offerings for those who do so, he said. Travel distances for each fan will be tracked so the entire carbon footprint of the tour can be offset through renewable energy and a 10,000-acre reforestation project in Hawaii with tour partner True Offsets.
Dubowsky hopes the sense of urgency the tour brings to the table will ignite the same passion in concerned concertgoers that the next version of the Kyoto Protocol will set the terms for future generations of life on Earth.
“We realized that this isn’t going to happen unless more artists get out there, more communities are aware of the need for this climate treaty, this language of 350, these small scale sustainability measures,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen, we’re all going to be in a very different place in a few years.”
For further information or to contribute to the tour visit Ecolectrictour.com.