Illustration by Justin Martinez
Illustration by Justin Martinez

The versatile Ari Shine, along with his wife and co-record company owner Adrienne Pierce, will return to his alma mater April 21 to play for the second time at the annual Earth Day College Night event hosted by Stevenson College.

Shine now lights up stages all across the globe and co-owns a boutique record company in Los Angeles. His work has been featured on the TV series “Kyle XY,” “American Idol: Rewind,” “Next,” “L.A. Ink,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” among many others. Shine’s roots, however, lie with the theater department of UC Santa Cruz.

“I love being back on the UCSC campus whenever I can,” Shine said. “I just get a good vibe. It feels good to reconnect.”

In recent years, Shine has played two shows at UCSC. However, his first shows in Santa Cruz took place between 1994 and 1999 when he was still a Porter student.

“When I was at UCSC I was already playing in a band,” Shine said. “We were called Granite Path. We played LA, SF, all over. We were one of those Queens of the Stone Age kind of bands. It was a Black Crowes sound — a heavy soul, stoner rock kind of band.”

The upcoming Earth Day event at Stevenson is the second consecutive event of its kind, and will focus on raising awareness about eco-friendly living. Students will tie-dye T-shirts reading “A Path to a Greener Stevenson,” the name of the Stevenson-based campus organization that focuses on raising awareness about environmental living at UCSC. Students will also have the opportunity to plant seeds for personal potted plants, which they may take home.

Outside of the event, before the performance by Ari Shine and Adrienne Pierce, volunteers will hand out pamphlets with information about sustainable foods and alternative transportation. The show will not charge admission. A College Night event co-hosted by Stevenson and Cowell, it will only be open to residents of the two colleges. A crowd of roughly 500 to 600 people is anticipated for the show.

Rene Tanaka is the assistant programs director at Stevenson College. She met Shine and Pierce at last year’s Earth Day performance.

“I like [Ari Shine and Adrienne Pierce]. In terms of other groups we’ve had, I think they are some of the best performers we’ve had here at Stevenson,” Tanaka said. “They’re really nice — they’ll remember you if they’ve met you before. They’re really down-to-earth.”

Shine, who writes all of his own music and lyrics, has released four albums — two of which feature digital sound, and two of which are physical. Shine’s music is also available on iTunes and on, he said. At the show, Shine and Pierce will perform songs from four different releases. They will also feature one or two new songs.

“I’m working on a new record and trying out some of the new songs,” Shine said.

His last release was a compilation of covers, so Shine said the selection at the show features a few cover songs as well.

Shine described his influences as “all over the place,” naming Billy Joel, the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder and Elvis Costello as influences from his childhood. He called Rush his “guilty pleasure.” Other influences include Metallica, Slayer, Run DMC and Bryan Adams, he said.

Shine spoke on behalf of preserving art programs endangered because of the budget crisis.

“I’ll tell you what, I’m lucky enough to make a career as a self-employed artist,” Shine said. “UC Santa Cruz, and the theater arts department especially, set me on the road for that. The thought of some up-and-coming actor or painter or musician not being able to get what they need is terrible. Mankind needs the arts.”

Shine is looking forward to performing at the school that got him started on his path towards a career in music, he said.

“My experience [as a UCSC student] was really amazing,” Shine said. “It’s really interesting — many members of my class went on to do really great things. You never really know what everyone’s going to do. My advice [to student artists] is start now. Tour during the summers. Tour during breaks. Let people know what you are doing — just go for it. Get involved in the music scene in Santa Cruz — there are a bunch of really great venues.”

The Earth Day event will begin at 5:45 p.m. and run until about 7:45 p.m.