In honor of the 10th Anniversary of the legendary Austin City Limits Festival, a new list recognizes bands that are making great music while fighting to save the planet
If there’s anything Austin knows, it’s live music. But as important as entertainment is, The Nature Conservancy understands the impact all those tour buses and visitors can have on our environment. That’s why The Nature Conservancy loves bands that not only talk the talk, but walk the walk – the green walk, that is. Check out some of the organization’s favorite eco-friendly acts, all of whom have graced a stage at the Austin City Limits Festival during its 10-year run.
“A recent nationwide poll by The Nature Conservancy found that musicians are among the top three most powerful influencers on environmental issues for America’s youth," said Laura Huffman, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas. “Music really does have the power to change the world. This is why these artists and events like ACL, which has incorporated a green message into just about every aspect of the festival, are massively important for educating and inspiring our next generation of environmental leaders.”
ACL’s Greenest Hits
- Green Texas Pride – Court Yard Hounds. Performing at ACL in 2011. This Texas duo love their state. And why shouldn’t they? With forests, mountains, the coast, grasslands, deserts and 200,000 miles of rivers and streams, Texas is one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the country. This is why they’ve partnered with The Nature Conservancy to convey the importance of conservation in Texas. The duo – which is two-thirds of the hugely popular Dixie Chicks – also worked with Conservation International in 2006 to offset the carbon footprint of the Chicks’ Accidents and Accusations Tour, and asked their fans to do the same. The band’s investment went to the preservation of a rain forest in Madagascar.
- Greenest Alt-Rock Rebels – Pearl Jam. Performed at ACL in 2009. Though these West Coast rockers are the grandfathers of grunge, they are also tried and true environmental do-gooders. In 2010, Pearl Jam supported the recovery efforts around the Gulf Oil Spill. In 2003 they implemented a carbon neutral touring policy in order to offset their environmental impact and created a full-scale carbon portfolio strategy (in partnership with nearly a dozen environmental groups) just three years later. In 2010 they donated $210,000 towards planting trees in Puget Sound, Washington; later that same year, they donated 100 percent of the proceeds from the download of their video ‘Amongst the Waves’ to benefit Conservation International's marine and ocean programs.
- Greenest Team Players – Guster – Performed at ACL in 2006. If you want to complain about your day job, Guster front man Adam Gardner is the wrong guy to choose. In between singing and playing guitar for the East Coast alt-rock band, Gardner is also a principle and co-founder of Reverb, an organization dedicated to helping touring artists achieve a more eco-friendly presence on the road. A year after its founding, Guster went on the road as part of Reverb's inaugural Campus Consciousness Tour, working to spread the message of environmental sustainability to college students all across the country (and using biodiesel fuel along the way!). Since 2004, Gardner and Reverb have worked with a dizzying array of artists – many of whom have popped up at ACL – including: Ray LaMontagne (2004, 2006, 2011), Crowded House (2007), Stars (2006, 2008), The Swell Season (2008), John Legend (2009), Coldplay (2005, 2011), Phish (2010), Ben Harper (2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009)
- Biggest Green Kahuna – Jack Johnson. Performed at ACL in 2003 and 2004 . A native of Hawaii and lifelong surfer, Johnson is a strong advocate of green touring and runs a tight bus: the band and crew utilize filtered tap water and hydration stations in favor of single-use plastic water bottles; fuel their trucks and busses on biodiesel and sponsor a shareride/carpool website to connect concertgoers across the country; strive to create zero waste events; and participate in the Farm to Stage catering program, which requires participating caterers to work directly with local farms and purveyors. All concert merchandise is created with sustainable materials and concertgoers are able to purchase carbon offset credits (just like at ACL!) to mitigate their CO2 footprint.
- Greenest Jam Band – Dave Matthews Band. Performed at ACL in 2009 . This Virginia-based group has been spreading the love since the early 1990s, and campaigning on behalf of the environment (as well as other worthy causes) nearly as long. Their first public performance was at an Earth Day music festival in Virginia; a few years later, they established the Bama Works Fund, which has contributed more than $10 million to a variety of charities in and around their hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, including Clean Virginia Waterways, the Rivanna Conservation Society and Virginia Save Our Springs. If that weren’t enough, in 2006 DMB forged a partnership with NativeEnergy to offset 100% of the CO2 emissions from their touring activities.
- Greenest Swagger – The Roots . Performed at ACL in 2004. This award winning hip-hop group is legendary not only in the music industry, but for their drive to bring those around them to a higher state of consciousness… politically, spiritually and environmentally. They annually host a ‘green carpet’ Grammy Awards pre-show party and rock out with some of the biggest names in Hollywood while subtly advancing a message of waste reduction and sustainability. In 2007, they launched the Feed Your Roots campaign to educate and integrate composting into schools across the country, and recently announced they had plans to upgrade their bus to run on biodiesel. The group is also one of the founding artists of the Green Music Group, a non-profit coalition of musicians, executives and fans who are committed to using their collective power to bring about widespread environmental changes throughout the industry.
- Grand Green Poobah – Willie Nelson. Performed at ACL in 2006 . As Texan as BBQ and Lone Star beer, Willie Nelson is not only an icon of country music but one of the state’s most vocal activists. He was green long before it was vogue, using alternative fuels to power his tour bus and in his everyday life, too. His BioWillie branding threw a spotlight on the use of biodiesel for commercial purposes, setting the standard for any artist wanting a green tour. Nelson is also an honorary board member of Austin’s Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (along with Jack Johnson and Adam Gardner!), which was founded by his wife, Annie. And if that wasn’t enough, his north Texas truck stop – Willie’s Place – boasts an on-site biodiesel production facility, effectively educating small town Texans on the benefits of going green.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have helped protect 130 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web here.
Connect with The Nature Conservancy at ACL – Visit them in the ACL Cares section at the Austin City Limits Festival, September 16-18. Pick up a personal cooling device, meet their staff, hear some great tunes and enter the Conservancy’s sweepstakes to win a free kayak!