Jason Mraz at Massey Hall (60 Simcoe), Tuesday (May 18). $39.50-$45.50. 416-872-4255.
There's an old black man who stands on the curb at the corner of Queen and Yonge yelling dire warnings about damnation at passing streetcars whose riders stare back at him with benevolently disdainful smiles. I figure this is a curbside prophet, what with the standing on the curb prophesying and all.
For fresh-faced native Virginian singer-songwriter Jason Mraz , Curbside Prophet is a single, a video and a tour. He launched his solo debut, Waiting For My Rocket To Come, last year, a fusion of pop rock, folk, jazz, reggae, funk and even white-boy rap that struck a fine balance between wit and whimsy to the delight of Dave Matthews and John Mayer lovers everywhere. Same producer: John Alagia.
A curbside prophet is also "any old street performer, anyone who uses the world as a stage," he tells me on the phone while taking a little break from touring.
"We're always performing for our friends, we're always performing for our families, and we're always performing for ourselves. From the moment you wake up in the morning and decide, 'I'm going to wear this today,' that's a creative process."
For Mraz, the creative processes of life also included a stint as a backyard breakdancer, sort of.
"I was really little, probably in second or third grade, when I was doing that, and I didn't learn until later that there's a difference between breakdance and electric boogie. Breakdancing is when you actually get on your knees and do things on the ground."
He then talks about seeing a somewhat elderly man, at least in his 60s, breaking in a nightclub recently, boogying harder than anything he'd ever seen.
"He must have been at least in his 40s when the dance craze started, and it reminded me that it's never too late to start anything in life."
This is a common theme with Mraz. He seems to see life as a series of signs and omens.
At 18 he moved to New York City to study musical theatre, but eventually lost interest. It was there that he first started playing guitar at Strawberry Fields and on the streets of Manhattan.
At the time, he was inspired by a psychic in Central Park to "dream the way I do today."
"Yeah. I mean, why not? Some people say, 'What a coincidence!' but instead of being dull and coincidental, it's fun to add a sense of mystery to everyday situations."
This particular leg of the creative process sees Mraz taking to the road alone for five weeks instead of with his trusted percussionist, Toca Rivera, and other band members.
"I'll be back with the band afterwards, but this is something I've always wanted to do. It gives me more freedom."
And a major purpose of the tour, he explains, is to get some new songs out there before recording them.
"My first album hadn't been performed live at all, and I found the songs just didn't feel lived in."