The Green Ball, one of many high-profile gatherings as part of the inauguration of Barack Obama next week in Washington, is a hot ticket, with Maroon 5, will.i.am, Melissa Etheridge, John Legend and Michael Franti on the bill.
Live Earth founder Kevin Wall was selected by former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore to executive produce the event, which will be staged Jan. 19 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery's Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.
The sold-out Green Inaugural Ball brings together more than 75 environmental, labor, business, civil justice, and community organizations and sponsors under one environmentally conscious banner. Capacity is about 2,500 and tickets sold out in about 12 minutes, according to Wall.
The event is unique in that it unifies a wide group of environmental causes that often find themselves competing for attention. Primary among them are wind and solar renewable energy resource advocacy groups. "We came together to do a celebration of the new administration and their policies around the environment," Wall tells Billboard.com. He says he was asked to helm the event by Gore about two weeks ago. "When Mr. Gore asks me to do something I have to do it."
Wall says Maroon 5 was already attached to the Green Ball when he and Live Earth came on board, "so we didn't start from scratch." He expects many "water cooler" moments, with surprise guests and walk-on performers.
The Green Ball is set up to be environmentally friendly, right down to a recyclable "green carpet." As a carbon neutral event, producers will offset 100% of electricity emissions through a partnership with Native Energy, and the menu will include as much locally-sourced and organic food as possible.
In other Live Earth news, Wall says the cancellation of a major Live Earth concert in India in the wake of the Nov. 28 Mumbai terrorist attacks was a "major disappointment." The concert, which was to feature Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, and several others, was to have taken place in Mumbai on Dec. 7, and Wall says Live Earth already had people on the ground in India when the attacks broke out.
"All Bon Jovi's equipment [and] Roger Waters' equipment, was about to be flown in, so we literally had to drive to the airport and stop it," says Wall. "We had three production people that came in on flights from around the world who landed in Mumbai in the middle of it, didn't leave the airport, and turned around and left. We fortunately had been there the week before with a big security detail and because of that the security company we hired locally, were able to go to the hotels and get our people out and get them on airplanes."
Wall expects another Live Earth event to be scheduled in India at some point. "It's still important that we do something in India, we're going to try and figure that out with Mr. Gore," he says, "but we're sort of letting everything settle down right now."