Story and photo by John Chambrone
ST. PETERSBURG—Singer Jason Mraz is not one to shy away from his self-described geekiness. He actually embraces it. “Here I am, this skinny little white kid wearing this
pink polo shirt, just feeling totally awkward. I probably looked like the biggest nerd.” The former cheerleading camper even penned the tune ‘Geek in the Pink,’ describing the colored shirt he bares no shame wearing in public. Leaving the pink shirt behind at a recent Janus Landing
performance, Mraz’s fifteen-song performance drew heavily from his sophmore release, Mr. A-Z. “I get to meet a lot of awkward teenagers, and right now they’re kind of feeling like they’re not cool, but it’s usually the geeks that are the cool people, and the people who think they’re really cool are usually the geeks,” he said. “But the bottom line is we’re all the same people. We’re all just a bunch of geeks trying to make it up as we go along.”
One can see that Mraz is passionate about his music, but maybe he should leave the rapping to the professionals. He is at his best when he just sings. Case in point, Mraz opened the show with his single “Life Is Wonderful.” It is a beautiful song with a ‘la la la la’ type chorus. His ‘rhyme,’
two songs later, just wasn’t as impressive. Sure, the guy can master the mike, but I think he is selling himself short. Mraz is the geeky, sensitive, artist type, and the rapping just clashed with what he is perceived to be. Midway through his performance, opening act Tristan Prettyman came onstage and they dueted his song “Shy That Way.”
Mraz has been busy on the concert circuit recently, opening for acts like Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette and the Rolling Stones. Relishing his time on the road with Mick Jagger and the Stones was an experience he will never forget. Not only did he get to watch them perform nightly, but he got a few chances to talk to the members of the band. His biggest moment came, however, when he got his mom backstage to meet them. Mraz joked that it was fun
seeing his mother acting like a teenager when she got to meet the legendary Rolling Stones.
About his time at cheerleader camp, he confesses there were a few reasons behind attending it. Screaming into a megaphone during rallies may up your geek factor tenfold, but Mraz says he milked every second of the opportunity.
“There were three guys and like 400 beautiful cheerleaders,” the singer joked. “It’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I don’t know why guys get flack for being a cheerleader, because it’s the best gig you could ask for.” While in high school, Mraz was also involved with choir, drama, and spent many a Friday night at Skate America.