Mayer Hawthorne Revs Up on MAZDA2-Sponsored Tour

Posted November 6, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Blue-eyed soul crooner hits the road with swanky MAZDA2 co-sponsored tour

Mayer Hawthorne has that throwback soul that leaves you feeling as if you’ve been digging through the crates of your mom’s 45’s. And it’s been making alot of noise ever since his Stones Throw-released album A Strange Arrangement leaked from underground notoriety into mainstream beginning with his song, “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin'” appearing on the fourth season’s finale of ABC’s ‘Ugly Betty’, showing up on Jimmy Kimmel Live and culuminating with appearances at big musical festivals such as Bonnaroo and Coachella.

He jokes about his new-found popularity when he performed at the Bottletree Cafe; one of his spots on his 32-city Mazda2-sponsored tour. During his set, he told his fans during his Birmingham, Ala. set that while he was visiting Charlemagne Record Exchange, a popular vinyl shop located on Birmingham’s southside, a man approached him and said, “Can I have your autograph?”  Hawthorne, flattered over the request, obliged. “Yes,” he said, and the man got out a pen and paper. “As I was signing it, the man leans in as I was writing and says, ‘You’re Michael Bublé, right.”

Hawthorne’s appearance usually treads a retro theme. He’s known for wearing his black glasses, donning the stage with suits designed for the Temptations and singing through a microphone head designed for RCA-Victor recording sessions. And even though he’s comfortable with giving his geeky appearance a Kanye West sparkle with wearing white sneakers, his Buddy Holly/Mark Ronson dapper look gives his blue-eyed soul new meaning. That’s because the retro soul renaissance, after Amy Winehouse’s breakthrough Back to Black album and with vintage tribute albums from Phil Collins, Raphael Saadiq, John Legend & the Roots, Sheryl Crow and others, is back in style again.

The Mazda-sponsored tour also features co-headliners The Heavy, a UK band that ‘s won warm reception from Spin and Rolling Stone and has even been featured on David Letterman. Also on the road with them is Gordon Voidwell– a N.Y.-based dance-punk act with Prince-styled funk and LCD Soundsystem synthpop at their fingertips.

Although early press releases stated that Mazda would keep something of a low-profile at the venues, their marketing strategy proved to be insurmountable and effective for both their crooner and for their latest product: the all-new 2011 MAZDA2 subcompact 5-door hatchback. “This is MAZDA’s first music initiative,” Michael Alyalia, branding ambassador of Rebel Industries explains. “We’re looking forward to going out and seeing the country on thirty-two dates, basically have a good time, try to do something meaningful and giving back to the people.”

“Giving back” is exactly what Mazda specializes in on the tour.  The 2011 MAZDA2 vehicle, on display at each event, is part of a sweepstakes giveaway, where fans and concert-goers are able to sign up on the site to win the coveted prize. VIP-styled meet-and-greets with Hawthorne are also designated at most of the spots, where they have access to exclusive merchandise, personalized apparel, food and a savvy photo booth allowing you the option to take home print copies or upload photos through social networking websites like Facebook. Mazda has also set up a micro-site where fans can learn more about the tour, the MAZDA2, watch updated video blogs and can download the previously unreleased track “No Strings.”

That set-up, along with the intimate surroundings of Bottletree, added that extra something to an evening worth remembering. Although most of the concert attendees arrived to get a triple-decker of spectacular live music, they left with more than a memory.


For more information on the tour, go to:

For more details on Mayer Hawthorne and Stones Throw Records, go to:




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About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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