Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz
Photo by Greg Burke

Jason Mraz Channels Mister Rogers at the Arsht Center

If Jason Mraz, who is set to play the Arsht Center tonight, were to decorate his car with bumper stickers, none would read “WWJD?” However, there is a very good chance there might be a “WWMRD?”

When was the last time the singer of "I’m Yours” and “Lucky” was in a bar brawl or given someone the middle finger?

“Well, I haven’t flipped any birds and I haven’t gotten into any fights in a very long time," he says. "My tool for restraining myself is What would Mister Rogers do? I don’t think Mister Rogers would use the F-word in traffic.”

Mraz might spend considerable time channeling the teachings of Mister Rogers in 2018 when he hits the road hard with not one, but two tours. The first, a solo acoustic set of shows that runs throughout the spring, will give way to his summer Good Vibes Tour with friend Brett Dennen.

“Bottom line is,” he says of doubling down on a pair of tours, “I just wanna play... The solo tour is just a way to get back in touch with my solo roots. I started off as a solo acoustic artist in coffee shops, cafés, small theaters."

Despite being gone for quite a while from the floodlights of concert arenas, Mraz certainly hasn’t been out of the limelight. Late last year, he joined the cast of Sara Bareilles’ Broadway play, Waitress, as Dr. Jim Pomatter. It was an experience he can’t help but gush over.

“I felt right at home onstage... It was a real joy to sing someone else’s material, speak someone else’s words, tell someone else’s jokes. In my own show, I really stress over that," he says.

“When you’re a creator, you have to figure out what is the purpose of this song? It’s very analytical. And it can also become very competitive.

“But with Waitress, I was able to put all that aside and I could still use my instrument and be a performer and bring my joy, but I didn’t have to confront those other challenges of purpose. All I had to do was learn the character and embrace the truth of the day, of that character.”

Although Mraz’s last Waitress show was filled with tears, and it was a time he describes as a “joy” that he’s already missing, he’s excited to get back on the road. And, yes, he’s also a bit anxious, and, well, back to stressing.

“Yeah, I’m a little stressed about going back," he says of touring, "but I know I’ll get through it. I probably stress before every tour because at the beginning of the tour, you don’t know what it’s going to look like. You have an idea, but it really takes about a week before it starts to reveal what it wants to be.”

Waitress revolves around an expert pie baker. So what pie might be named after Mraz?

“Humble pie,” he says with a tongue-in-cheek Southern accent. “I’m constantly humbled by music and the opportunities that I’ve been given. I don’t feel that I deserve anything that I’ve received — the accolades, the awards — I know there are so many talented people out there who seldom get recognized. Yet, for some reason, I got recognized. And so, because of that, I’m humbled and I want to stay positive and be of service. I want to show up with gratitude and humility and keep my feet on the ground. I also realize it can all just go away at any time.”

Jason Mraz. 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org. Tickets cost $61.75 to $103.75 via arshtcenter.org.


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