Jason Mraz is a glass-half-full kind of guy.

You could probably tell that by his monster hit a couple of years ago, “I’m Yours.” It was catchy, upbeat, and, as Mraz said Tuesday, “It’s about giving of yourself and of your time to someone else.”

What’s more, Mraz went on to say, he never grows tired of singing it.

“It’s a song that is so optimistic and full of hope and generosity, so to think people want to sing along with that is great,” said Mraz. “I’m stoked to sing it.”

Mraz will open his fall North American tour with a show Saturday at the Bangor Waterfront Pavilion as part of the Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series, an outdoor series launched this summer on city-owned park land.

Mraz, 33, has been steadily gaining fans and airplay since his first Top 20 single in 2002, “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry).” The song was driven as much by complicated lyrics as the music.

But he really hit it big in 2008 with the album “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things,” which debuted at No. 3, sold more than 5 million copies and included the single “I’m Yours.” The tune peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was on the chart for a record-breaking 76 weeks.

The success of “We Sing” resulted in several Grammy nominations in 2009 and 2010, of which he won two — for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. He was also honored by the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame with a Hal David Starlight Award.

Mraz grew up in a suburb of Richmond, Va. His mother was always singing — Big Band tunes and standards — while his stepfather was a jazz drummer and his father was into R&B. Plus, because his town didn’t have any “hip record stores,” he was heavily influenced by pop radio.

He says “I’m Yours” was basically the result of all these influences and is the kind of song he tries to write every time he sits down to write.

But Mraz thought at first the song was too simple, and considered recording it as a children’s song before he started playing it at his concerts and seeing how people reacted.

His most recent album is a live collection, “Jason Mraz’s Beautiful Mess — Live on Earth.” So it would be a good thing to listen to if you’re trying to decide whether to see his show this weekend on the Bangor waterfront.

The Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series has brought more big-name acts to Bangor than the city usually sees in a year, including Celtic Woman, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tim McGraw. Besides Mraz, the venue will also host veteran country star Alan Jackson on Friday and rising country star Miranda Lambert on Oct. 2.

On Oct. 10, the series will host hard rockers Godsmack as they headline an all-day festival with more than 20 bands.

The series is being booked by Bangor-area concert promoter Alex Gray. Gray ran a live music club in Orono, called Ushuaia, from 1998 to 2006, then worked for New England Concerts before starting his own Waterfront Concerts company.

Gray said he decided to start this outdoor series — at a venue with portable seating for 8,000 and room for more people on the grass — after seeing the success of the American Folk Festival and the KahBang Festival, two annual music events held in the same area along Bangor’s waterfront.

Gray saw potential in an outdoor venue that could hold 8,000 or more people — that’s more than most indoor arenas in Maine — in a centrally located area.

For lots of people in eastern or northern Maine, Bangor is the closest concert destination. Plus, Bangor is a two-hour drive for people in Portland, and with a lot less traffic and parking hassles than the two-hour drive from Portland to Boston.

“The shows we’re attracting to the series this year are big shows for Maine,” said Gray. “Tim McGraw and Godsmack are too big to play most venues in Maine.”

For each show in the series, 8,000 chairs are brought in, but there is almost “unlimited” lawn seating on the sloped lawn, Gray said.

Since the series is held on city property, Gray will have to evaluate this year’s shows with the city before deciding whether to continue the series next year.

Gray said he wanted the series to appeal to a wide variety of people, from fans of theatrical shows (Celtic Woman) to pop (Mraz) to country. Country is always a big seller in Maine, and Gray wanted to bring in a country superstar, a veteran and a newcomer. He achieved that by booking McGraw, Jackson and Lambert.

And for the Jackson show this week, Gray added a feature not seen very often in the concert business: child care at the Bangor Y. The price is $5 for Y members and $15 for non-members. Children can be dropped off beginning at 5:30 p.m. and picked up one hour after the show ends. But pre-registration at the Y is required.

“It’s something people had asked about, and it fits well with the audience (for Jackson),” said Gray.

As for Mraz, Saturday’s show will mark his first concert in Bangor, and he’s pretty stoked about it.

“I love an outdoor show; it’s so expansive and the sound goes on forever. Hopefully it goes into outer space,” Mraz said.

“With an indoor show, the sound bounces of the walls and stays there, and people sit down and don’t quite know how to respond.” 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]


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