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Mraz takes Centennial stage

Musician Jason Mraz brings his rhyme to Centennial Hall last night during the second stop of his headlining tour to promote his new album, Mr. A-Z. About 1,600 fans were present for the show. --Matt Robles/Arizona Daily Wildcat
By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 22, 2005
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Pock rock artist Jason Mraz dazzled nearly 1,600 fans last night with his tongue-twisting rhymes and wordplays in Centennial Hall.

The UA concert was the second stop for Mraz and back-up band The Take It Easy Buddies on their Mr. A-Z tour, after kicking it off the night before in Phoenix.

The show was organized by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Special Events Committee and sponsored by the radio station 92.9 FM KWMT, said Ryan Patterson, ASUA special events director.

Upon taking the stage, Mraz was highlighted with a strobe of flashes from fans' camera phones and digital cameras taken by a standing audience.

"What's up, Wildcats?" Mraz asked the screaming crowd. "Thanks for the invite back to Tucson. We always love it here."

The artist switched from one guitar to the next while playing songs from his new album Mr. A-Z.

Holly Rook, a psychology freshman, got to sit in the front row because she bought her tickets within the first hour they became available, she said.

Rook said she knew Mraz was a talented live performer when she saw him play in Phoenix after a marathon she ran.

"I think he's even better live than he is on CD," Rook said. "He really got the crowd going."

Even the few students sitting in the balcony said they had a good time.

Sarah Nelson, a chemical engineering freshman, said she didn't mind sitting in the back because it gave her more control over how she enjoyed the show.

"I like it better right here because you're not in the middle of the screaming people, and you don't have to stand if you don't want to," Nelson said.

The curtains opened just before 8 p.m. with the band Ryanhhood, followed by Dropping Daylights.

The concert cost $46,000 to put on, most of which was paid for by ticket sales, said Patterson, a third-year law student.

Tickets were $22 for students with a CatCard and $27 for the public.

Of the total cost, $8,500 paid for the opening bands and production and the rest went to Mraz, who wasn't paid until after the show, Patterson said.

Because the budget depended on money generated by ticket sales, Patterson said, he was unsure of how much money would come out of the committee's $40,000 set aside for concerts on campus. But he said he hoped to break even.

"We won't have (that) information until probably two days after the show," Patterson said.

Patterson said upcoming events include the annual Battle of the Bands in October and another show, to be announced, in November.

Earlier in the day, some UA students and others from the Tucson community got a chance to see Mraz play a few songs up close.

KWMT organized a "Studio C" from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. yesterday, during which Mraz played some tunes on an acoustic guitar and responded to interview questions.

After an introduction, Mraz played one of his new songs, "Geek in the Pink."

"I've always liked pink," Mraz said while sporting pink flip-flops and T-shirt during the mini-show.

While answering one of the interview questions, Mraz addressed the members of opening-band Ryanhood, saying he remembered when he used to play with youthful enthusiasm like theirs.

Cameron Hood, singer and guitar player of the duo, said it was meaningful for the band to get that comment from an artist they respected so much.

"It does our hearts good," Hood said.

Hood graduated from the UA last year and has played gigs with band-mate Ryan Green at Cellar in the Student Union Memorial Center and on the UA Mall, but never at Centennial Hall.

Hood and Green both grew up in Tucson and graduated from University High School but moved to Boston to pursue music on the East Coast.

Hood said returning to Tucson to play at Centennial Hall had special meaning to him and was a symbolic step for the band's musical future.

"I graduated from high school and college at Centennial Hall. It's such a respected venue," Hood said. "There's a 'bright future' feeling about (playing there)."

Kelly Hanrahan, a media arts junior whose boss won tickets to the studio show, said when she drove to the UA from her home in Kansas, she listened to Mr. A-Z for most of the 18-hour drive.

Hanrahan said she has met other celebrities before but none have been "so laid back and as easy-going as (Mraz)."

"He was one of the most down to earth people," Hanrahan said. "He was really goofy and cool hang out with."

Patrick Bradley, an architecture junior, said he prefers Mraz' acoustic work over his radio songs and watching Mraz play them live caused him to change his mind about going to the concert.

"I was impressed so much I went straight over and bought my ticket," Bradley said.

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