I often get asked how I came to know Jason Mraz and how I was able to get to photograph his shows. For those of you that are interested read on. If you are not, and just want to see pictures from the YES! Tour please jump down to the next Title on the page "All Access - Jason & Jane NW Tour"
In 2002 my wife and I were walking into the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington State to go see the Dave Matthews Band for the first time live. There was a young guy playing music outside the venue as people were walking in. Being early we stopped for half a song and I was impressed. A few days later Aran (aka Uncle Crispy) video taped Jason playing outside and Dave Matthews walking out asking to play a few tunes for the folks waiting in line. Life was a lot different in the music world at this time of trading audio recordings and DVD's of shows through what was called BnP's (Blanks and Postage). Where you would send blank discs to people you had never met and they would make you copies of the shows. I was really into that. There was also a site I found called www.archive.org that had hundreds of DMB recordings and this is where I discovered the singer songwriter Jason Mraz.
I downloaded every show I could find during 2003. Most of which Jason was playing with a percussionist named Toca Rivera. I was so intrigued by their unique sound as a duo that I listened to show after show learning the words to songs never put on studio albums like "Rand McNally" "0% Interest" and "Halfway Home". When his first studio album came out "Waiting for My Rocket to Come" it took me some time to get used to the full band sound, and I still often turned back to those solo and duo/trio shows that got me hooked. If you have never listened to them do yourself a favor and go check them out.
In 2004 we finally had the opportunity to see Jason perform live at the 5th Ave Theatre in Seattle. This was during the Curbside Prophet tour I was super excited to see that he was playing with a duo again, although it did lack that of his counterpart Toca. Instead another percussionist named Jen Lowe was performing with him. It was still fantastic. Hearing songs like 0% the first time and being one of the few that knew where to insert "Foxy" was a treat, unlike the loads of people there that only knew the song "The Remedy" or "You and I Both". After the show I may have thought about hanging out to meet Jason but with 2 kids at home we felt we did not have the time.
Fast forward through those years of Mr A-Z where life was busy and the scene of trading music was overtaken by downloading everything on the internet. Sure I preordered the album and would find a bootleg DVD here or there. I had also discovered the site RKOP http://rightkindofphrase.yuku.com/ . As 2007 came and gone there were some amazing recordings shared on archive.org. My all time favorite being the solo show in Ootmarsum Netherlands. For a couple years Jason had been playing a tune called I'm Yours and it became an underground fan favorite that had never been released on an official studio album. However the B side studio cut had been shared through fans for sometime.
In 2008 the album "We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things" was released and the radio took I'm Yours and Jason Mraz to super stardom. I remember listening to the album over and over until every word was memorized. It IS still sooo good. As Jason took to the stages across the world I was really getting into the age of digital photography. I had recently bought my first DSLR camera and loved taking photos. I would sneak my little camera in my back pocket because it was difficult to get a DSLR into a show (again...this is before ever cell phone had HD video and a decent camera). I would learn the best ways to get concert shots and I would put my 10 minute or less videos up on YouTube. I started to travel to shows throughout the US and meet online RKOP fans. Facebook had not quite taken off like it is now. We would meet up and see shows and have a great time. The first time I ever met Jason I stood outside for 2 hours in the freezing cold of Spokane in November. I went to the show without my wife and met my dad there. I had no reason to have to leave after the show, so I waited around. My wife was so mad she didn't go.
Jason's upbeat music and attitude is infectious. We would travel just about anywhere to go see a show, meet new friends on the way and love life. Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Tucson, Red Rocks, Hollywood Bowl, Las Vegas, San Diego, Indianapolis, St Louis, to name a few. Chicago...oh Chicago. There are some huge fans in Chi Town. The first time we were introduced to a LRC (Living Room Concert) was in the windy city. The night before A Beautiful Mess Live DVD was recorded we had the pleasure of watching Bushwalla perform for a small packed room. Never before had I thought about having my own LRC's in my hometown and this made me want to.
Our first LRC in my hometown was with Bushwalla. We have since become good friends and he is one of the best performers you could ever see live. Check him out at www.bushwalla.net . Over the next few years we had the pleasure of hosting a number of artists such as Dawn Mitschele, Alysse Fisher, Todd Carey, Kris Orlowski, Parker Ainsworth and The Makepeace Brothers. Some of which have played numerous times. During this exciting time we were introduced to our very own local group Luc and the Lovingtons. The Lovingtons had a song that Jason had heard and started to perform called the "Freedom Song". Later they toured with Jason and after that I even became part of the band playing the saxophone for a year or so.
The first show I ever got my DSLR into was in Vancouver 2009. We were guests with one of our new friends and I was able to have my camera as we watched the entire show from the side of the stage. I must say that this was one of many big turning points for me and my future as a concert photographer. I finally got out of auto mode and started to learn manual settings to shoot in the dark. Although they do not compare to my photos now, I still love this photo from that night.
As the years rolled by I continued to get my camera into shows. Not only Mraz shows, but any show I could. This was my school. My love for the music and passion for photography continued to grow. Soon a photo here or photo there was used on Jason's Facebook page a fans were submitting their favorite photos. There are many people for me to thank for helping me get to the point I am at now. One of them is Philly Brentnall, if you are actually taking the time to read this you probably already know who she is. But if you don't know, she is a rock star all on her own. Philly is a long time friend/fan of Jason's who eventually started working for his management team. If you have had an opportunity to meet her, you know just how great she is. Philly is one of those who on the inside saw my photography and thought it was good enough to use. Another person I like to thank is Tricia Huffman. She was Jason's self proclaimed Joyologist. http://www.yourjoyologist.com/ She has a can do attitude that has rubbed off on so many. Jason and his friends have this same attitude. Songs like "Anything You Want" come to mind with the lyrics "anything you want can be yours in anytime". As Tricia would say "F*** Your Fears" if you want something go after it. DO IT, achieve it. Make your dreams reality. So that is what I was trying to do. Slowly over many years of hard work and learning I received my first photo pass, I saw my first photo go on a PR poster, magazine, cover shot of a guitar play along book and eventually the back cover of the YES! Bonus EP sold by HSN. "Look at that, that's my picture and that's my name!", I say with each new photo use. It is still very exciting to me and I love trying to capture that "moment".
Are you still with me? I jump around a lot as the past 6 years all jumble together in my mind. Besides going to Jason's shows we would often fancy a show that had many of our new friends involved. The "LoVE event, Cord Progression, and the 1st annual Feeding the Soul Foundation show to which a multi artist album was released. http://www.feedingthesoulfoundation.org/ . In 2010 I met 4 amazing women who are in a group called "Raining Jane" at a few of these shows. My photography had been building and I had started to get known on small scale as a photographer. The first time I saw Jason and Jane was when they performed "A Beautiful Mess" in Dec of 2010. Breathtaking to hear it the way it was made. In the years to come I became the house photographer for our local venue www.admiraltheatre.org This has increased my skill by leaps and bounds and with it I have also continued to upgrade my equipment to get me to where I am at today. During so many of these shows and opportunities I have got to know Jason and become friends with him. Gifting prints of my photos and offering to help him with his Geneology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwoBGuDqgH8#t=915, I am so grateful that I can honestly call him my friend. He is one of the most humble, real people you could ever meet. And truly he and his music has changed my life.
Over the past year I have been fortunate enough to see one of the first live Jason and Jane shows and after my many years of climbing that wall I received my ALL Access pass to take pictures during the entire show from anyplace in the venue. I still geek out a bit with each opportunity. And just over a week ago I was able to shoot the 4 Northwest shows on tour with Jason Mraz and Raining Jane. If you took the time to read this, I say thank you. I think like many people I probably wrote it more for myself than anything. But I do thank you for your support and excitement for my photography.
ALL ACCESS - JASON & JANE NW TOUR
The following photos are from the 4 days on tour with Jason Mraz and Raining Jane during their 4 shows in the Pacific Northwest.
The first stop was in Seattle, WA on Oct 21, 2014 at Benaroya Hall
Second stop was in Spokane, WA. This was actually the venue I first met Jason at many years ago. During each of the 4 shows I had certain opportunities to take photos I didn't have a chance to capture in every venue. In Seattle the second set hoot with lights in the back were fantastic to take pictures of. All were taken from the back of the venue. In Spokane there were 2 empty seats in the middle a few rows back that I kept an eye on and was able to capture some fabulous group shots at the end of the show where everyone's faces were in view. Including Becky with a nice smile. :)
Vancouver was the only show that gave me great centered shots of the stage to really show off the back drop screen. I shot the majority of the show near or behind the sound board. So there was a lot to share with you. If you have seen the show I hope that they will remind you of the amazing artwork going from "93 Million Miles" all the way through "Shine". If you haven't seen the show then I hope this gives you some idea of how spectacular it is.
People sometimes ask me if I can really even enjoy the show taking pictures the whole time. And my answer to them - sometimes it is hard for me to enjoy the show if I don't get to. I work hard at what I do and sure I see the show through a box on my camera pressed up to my eye. But when you leave with that special "moment" captured in time it is far beyond worth it. Plus...I am there for the music ultimately and I can hear it with my ears the entire time.
On the way to Portland, little sleep, more miles and more fun. Portland ended my tour with my wife having a front row aisle seat. She was super excited and so was I. because of her seat I cuddled up close to her on the ground and it became the only venue I was able to sit really close to the stage and get great close ups. I always try and stay out of the way of people while working to make sure I am as little as a distraction as possible.
Weather you are a friend, family, or someone I have never met. I thank you and hope you enjoyed looking through just a small part of my photos. I really must thank Jason, Mona, Mai, Chaska, Becky and all of the Management and crew who allowed me to take photos during the recent shows and over the many years of working together. Lastly a big thanks to my wife and kids for dealing with my photography addiction, it has been worth it, right? With much LoVE and Gratitude - Eric Morgensen