With Thailand firmly established as one of the world's top holiday destinations, the kingdom is also an increasingly popular choice for some of the world's top bands and music stars. Until quite recently, the biggest selling acts tended to favour Singapore as the main Southeast Asian stop when they planned their world tours, but in the last few years the Bangkok gig list has grown to include everyone from rock legends The Eagles to crossover stadium fillers, Linkin Park and one of the world's best known DJs, Joel Thomas Zimmerman, otherwise known as Deadmouse.
The latest star with plans to grace Thailand's ears with his chart topping tunes is Jason Mraz, who recently announced a special one night concert in on November 5th with his longtime friend and celebrated percussionist Noel Toca Rivera. Mraz is a multi-talented singer and songwriter and made pop history with the single, I'm Yours , a global hit that enjoyed a record breaking 76 week run on the Hot 100. The track was featured on Jason's platinum selling album, We Sing. We dance. We steal things" and was also voted Song of the Year by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
The Thailand concert is sponsored by Toyota Prius and billed as a "Special Acoustic Evening With Toca Rivera . The venue is the Bonanza Khao Yai and the sell out performance is part of an ambitious tour schedule that will see Jason perform on four continents. A Grateful Journey, as its known, is designed to celebrate the power of music as well as to inspire change and help others through global citizenship. Mraz has long been an active supporter of charities, including including VH1's Save The Music Foundation, MusiCares and Free the Children. He was also named the 2010 SIMA Humanitarian of the Year.
Toca Rivera is known as an accomplished Djembe player and 'vocussionist' and will share the stage for a series of acoustic dates during the tour, celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the duo's independently released album, "Live at Java Joe's", which was only made available to download on iTunes as recently as March 2008. The tour includes benefit concerts and festivals in the USA, Morocco and France, plus shows at major international venues like the Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall. On the acoustic aspect, Jason commented: "There's no technology, no microphones, there's nothing that can can get in your way," speaking on the tour's video trailer. "I love the freedom that that is. That I don't have one position behind a microphone."
No strangers to the road, Mraz and Rivera first teamed up back in 2000, when Jason was beginning to make a name for himself on the San Diego coffee house circuit. Rivera invited Mraz to join a trio he fronted with his brother Carlos, and the band toured California's towns and music venues together in a beat-up Winnebago, a trip that later became the inspiration for the song Dream Life of Rand McNally. When Carlos decided to take some time off, Jason and Toca collaborated on a number of original songs. Mraz's melodic guitar and vocal performances were perfectly complemented by Rivera's intuitive percussion style. Their laid back musical partnership quickly found a growing audience and eventually they grew to create songs that sold multiple albums around the globe and drew huge crowds to their live performances.
A large part of Jason's appeal in Thailand comes from the fact that he sometimes plays the Ukelele, an instrument that has become hugely popular in the last two years with Thai people of all ages taking it up, either seriously or as kind of fashion accessory. "I'm Yours" is one of the first songs budding Thai musicians learn on the Hawaiian instrument and with the internet bursting with video clips and online lessons, Jason's rendition has become the benchmark for four stringed crooners across the nation.
By Jules Kay