Local Rhythms – Greenerpalooza gets Browne

Picture 23Most people look at the roofline of Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion and see the Lakes Region’s premier live music venue. Chris Lockwood envisions a green energy future.

Its slope and location are perfect for photovoltaic panels. “We have the potential to be New Hampshire’s largest producer of solar power,” says Lockwood, the venue’s Marketing Director.

Chris is a passionate advocate for the Meadowbrook’s environmental initiatives.  “When I came here out of college, the first thing I thought was ‘we have to make this place green,” he said.

To that end, he’s been a driving force behind the “Greenerpalooza” showcase. The second annual event, co-sponsored by Ocean Bank, PSNH and the NH Business Resource Center, happens Thursday, July 16 in conjunction with Jackson Browne’s appearance there.

Fans can wander around an “eco-village” in the Meadowbrook midway and visit 25 vendors from around the state.  Many environmentally responsible products and services will be on display, including alternative energy, smart home design, electric cars and earth-friendly cosmetics.

“Greenerpalooza” is the public relations part of the venue’s ongoing commitment “to have the least amount of negative impact on our environment.”

Meadowbrook’s tangible steps to reduce its carbon footprint are impressive.  They include increased recycling, use of products made with recycled materials and on-site bio-diesel, used for on-stage production and tour bus refueling.

At last year’s event, the headliner lent their name – but not much more, This time around, Jackson Browne is “really into” the effort, says Lockwood.

The singer-songwriter’s commitment to alternative energy and the environment is well known.  Browne founded Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) with Bonnie Raitt, John Hall and Graham Nash, and once was arrested for chaining himself to the entrance of a nuclear power plant (Diablo Canyon, in 1981).

These days, Browne drives a hybrid car, and lives “off the grid” on a Southern California ranch with a wind turbine, solar electricity and other energy-saving gadgetry.  In 2007, the home was the subject of Green Planet’s “Living With Ed” documentary show.

Browne welcomed Meadowbrook’s offer to tap into their bio-diesel generator to power his sound.  He’ll also employ an energy-efficient LED lighting system for his show.

Lockwood also hopes the rocker will urge his audience to check out the Greenerpalooza showcase, and learn how to take earth-friendly steps in their own lives.

Around the time Jackson Browne was starting MUSE, I worked on a solar energy awareness project called “Sun Day,” dreaming of a rock show powered by alternative energy.

It’s certainly a pleasure to see that dream become a reality – right in my own backyard.

Speaking of which, here are some other local entertainment options, at a few of my favorite places:

Wednesday: Second Wind, Green Acres – A wine tasting at a this Claremont store that’s been through a few changes since its opening.  There are more places to sit, a bigger selection of bottles of the shelf and great prepared food.   Their barista makes the best latte in town.  Add to that the talented duo of Terry Gould and Suzy Hastings, better known as Second Wind, and you have the makings for a lovely evening.

Thursday:  Pete Merrigan, Bistro Nouveau – I met my bride-to-be at a Newport Opera House performance by Merrigan’s Mad Beach Band. 28 years later, I can say that turned out OK.  So it’s good to know Pete and the band are planning a reunion show at the same venue on August 31.  Meanwhile, Pete’s solo appearances are always a treat, and since he moved back from Florida, something you can do year-round.

Friday: Billy Rosen Quartet, Sophie & Zeke’s – One of the area’s finest jazz combos returns to downtown Claremont.  Rosen has a delicate touch on the guitar, reminiscent of Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Pat Metheny.  He personifies “smooth,” S&Z’s Brown Block location never ceases to amaze me.  It’s roomy yet intimate, and the new, expanded bar is always buzzing with activity.

Saturday: Green River Festival (Greenfield, MA) – If you can only make one music festival this summer, this is a good choice – particularly considering the first day (Friday, 5 PM start) features performances from every artist on the coolest indie label anywhere, Signature Sounds.  Winterpills, Rani Arbo, Eilen Jewell and Richard Shindell all stop by, and on Saturday, Michael Franti, Kathleen Edwards and 10 others perform, including Steve Earle’s son Justin Townes.

Sunday: Celia Sings Sinatra, Canoe Club – This downtown Hanover restaurant has great food, an inventive beer list and interesting drinks.  But none of that matters to me as much as Canoe Cub’s commitment to live music, 363 days a year.  Nights like this one with Celia are particularly special – he’s a dead ringer for the Chairman of the Board, and a lot of fun to boot.

Monday: Freshlyground, Iron Horse – From Capetown, South Africa to Northampton, Massachusetts, this band’s musical palette suggests “Graceland” era Paul Simon wed to Macy Gray’s soulfulness.  Quirky stuff – on “Pot Belly” (streaming on their MySpace page), lead singer Zolani Mahola croons, “you got fat thighs, flabby arms, but your pot belly still gives good loving.”

Tuesday: Irish Sessions, Salt hill Pub – An Upper Valley treasure that’s gone in 5 years from treat to institution to (dare I say it?) franchise.  Look for a third Salt hill opening in Hanover right around Homecoming in October. Just like the Newport and Lebanon locations, there will be music.  About tonight: if you haven’t stopped in after work (or looking for work – times are hard) to check out this circle of scintillating sound, you’re really missing out.