Whether or not you’ve been tuned in since the beginning, chances are you’ve heard about Jason Mraz. The Virginia-born, San Diego-bred singer/songwriter spent a large chunk of his early years paying his coffee-shop dues. Then came “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry),” the aptly titled, quirkily constructed cut off his 2002 release, Waiting for My Rocket to Come, which would ultimately launch Mraz out of the java house and onto the national circuit.
From there, it wasn’t long ’til Mraz was snagged up by Atlantic Records and releasing chart-topping, internationally selling full-lengths (see 2005’s Mr. A-Z and 2008’s We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.) and a small arsenal of live albums, EPs, and online-only exclusives. Most importantly though, the troubadour has stayed true to himself all along the way, weaving his signature mix of hip-hop, hot jazz, pop rock, and blue-eyed soul to create a sound that has spawned more imitators than we can name.
This Friday, Mraz returns to Santa Barbara (he made an electric showing at 2008’s West Beach Music & Arts Festival) with a headlining gig at the S.B. Bowl. While the concert marks a momentous leap for this California-cultivated songsmith, it’s also destined to be quite the night for Mraz fans. In addition to singles and favorites like “Wordplay,” “Lucky,” and “Curbside Prophet,” Mraz will be dishing out a smattering of cuts from his soon-to-be-released fourth studio album.
“I would prefer to be doing a lot of the new material [live], just to see how it feels,” Mraz told Spin earlier this year. “I want to see how [the new songs] feel, how they translate, how they evolve. Songs always get better after you start playing them live.”
As for what’s in store, Mraz enthused, “There’s rap reggae and fun, quirky, sunshine, lift your spirits, everybody clap your hands kind of songs.” In other words, it’s just the right material for a warm fall night under the stars.
Jason Mraz plays the Santa Barbara Bowl this Friday, October 8, at 7 p.m., with opener Christina Perri. For tickets and info, call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.