On Earth Day, music's a motivator at Merriweather

April 21, 1993|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

Let's be honest -- at first glance, the concept behind Concerts for the Environment seems like a great way to raise money and maybe raise some consciousness. But change the world? Get real.

Yet that's pretty much what Michael Martin and his colleagues at Concerts for the Environment have been doing since they organized their first Earth Day concert in 1990. Since then, they've not only expanded their base, moving from a single annual concert to this year's three-show approach (the others were held over the weekend in New York and Los Angeles), but also managed to produce concrete results in the environment.

Take, for example, the environmental audit they offer. "We did this at Foxboro Stadium in 1991, and they were able to save, over the last two years, 90,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 30,000 pounds of solid waste. They were able to save $30,000, based on the changes that we recommended."

Mostly, though, the concerts are designed to motivate and involve the pop music audience.

"I do a lot of market analysis and studies," says Mr. Martin, "and I've found that the majority of people are concerned about the environment but they just don't know where to start.

"So our approach is, let's use something non-threatening and empowering like music to reach people, and find easily attainable action that people can take."

That can range from informational campaigns, like the 1-800-I-ECO-ACT phone lines they've set up to provide callers with information on local Earth Day activities, to the informational campaign the group has developed with VH-1.

Moreover, the concert itself is designed to be eco-friendly, with a solar-powered backstage area and organic, unbleached cotton souvenir T-shirts.

There's even a car-pooling program that offers a $40-per-car ticket that will provide lawn seats for "as many people as you can safely fit into a car." (Car-pool tickets are available at Ticketmasters).

"We're just saying, 'Hey, come on, get out and do something,' " says Martin. "It's not shame-based, not a finger-pointing thing. It's almost like, instead of being in the concert business, we feel we're in the behavior-modification business."

EARTH DAY CONCERT

When: 6 p.m. Thursday (gates open at 4:30 p.m.).

Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia.

Tickets: $33 and $27.50 for pavilion seats, $22 for lawn.

Call: (410) 730-2424 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets.

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