Green practices, Be-In founder Michael Gosney says, "may not be huge in of themselves, but they set an example for communities to take these practices back into their own lives." One such community-oriented musician is String Cheese Incident mandolin player Michael Kang, who'll perform at the Digital Be-In and appear with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks at the free Green Apple Festival concert April 20 in Golden Gate Park.
Organizing seven other free outdoor Earth Day shows throughout the country on April 20 as well as assorted San Francisco shows that weekend, the Green Apple Festival is going further to educate artists and venues the usual suspects that inspire me to make my carbon footprint that much bigger by distributing to participating performers and clubs helpful Music Matters artist and venue riders: the former encourages artists to make composting, recycling, and offsets a requirement of performances; the latter suggesting that nightspots consider reusable stainless-steel bottles of water and donating organic, local, fair-trade and/or in-season food leftovers to local food banks or shelters.
But how green are the sounds? Musicians like Brett Dennen, who also performs at SF's Green Apple event, may have grown up recycling and composting, but he confesses that environmentalism has never spurred him to craft a tune: "Things as big as global warming have never moved me to write about it, even though I'm doing what I can." And Rilo Kiley's Blake Sennett, who plays April 17 at the Design Center Concourse, may describe himself as a "recycling animal I love it! I go through trash at other people's houses!", yet even he was unable to push the rest of the his group to make their latest CD, Under the Blacklight (Warner Bros., 2007) carbon neutral.
So maybe it comes down to supporting those leafy green rooms, forests, and grasslands we otherwise take for granted. Parks are the spark for exRum Diary member Jon Fee's Parks and Records green label in Fairfax, which wears its love of albums on its hand-printed, all-recycled-content sleeves and plans to donate a percentage of all its low-priced CD sales to arboreal-minded groups like Friends of the Urban Forest. Fee and his spouse Mimi aren't claiming to have all the answers in terms of running a low-carbon-footprint imprint, but they are pragmatic ("In order to support bands, labels need to give them something they can sell to get gas money," Fee says) and know their love of the outdoors segues with many musicians. "You develop that camping mentality from touring," he offers. "You're not showering, and you're hanging out for long periods of time. Everyone loves to be outside." That's the notion even those too cheap to buy offsets can connect with until the weird weather is at their doorstep.