In 2007, the Ginger Ninjas became the first band in the history of rock and roll to tour by bicycle, unsupported by automobile. On a 5000 mile odyssey from their home in Northern California to the pyramids of southern Mexico, they promoted transportation cycling while also exploring the frontiers of pedal-generated electricity, using their own bikes to power a hyper-efficient sound system. The audience took turns getting on stage to pedal the bikes to make the sound, taking crowd participation to a new level. Originally conceived as a one-time adventure/statement/experiment, the band became addicted, and now has its sights set on a world tour.
“Before the Mexico tour, I honestly didn’t know if what we were setting out to do was even physically possible,” says front man Kipchoge Spencer. “A couple of months in, we realized that it wasn’t just possible, but there was something easy about the rhythm of it (despite the grueling uphills with 200 pound bikes), and the next logical thought was, ‘let’s tour the world this way.'”
The Ginger Ninjas’ mobile human-power stage is the first of its kind in history. Coupling super efficient digital amplifiers, lightweight components, and generators attached to working bicycles (as opposed to purpose-built stationary bikes), the system allows a band to play off-grid anywhere, wall outlet or no, and to also carry the system to a gig on the same bicycles (Xtracycle sport utility bicycles, a company started by Spencer). This enables a new kind of completely self-sufficient bicycle touring, sans automobile support. On the band’s most recent tour, the system and touring style enabled them to avoid generating close to 60,000 pounds of CO2, or 95% of what a similar sized band creates in a similar tour.
They call their style “mind shaking love groove folk funk roots rock explosive international pedal powered mountain music for a pleasant revolution.”
The Ginger Ninjas and supporting act, Crystal Stafford (indie-electro-folk), will be launching their world tour in August, hitting the Democratic and Republican Conventions before cycling around the East Coast and Florida through September and October, and then leaving the country for points south, east, and west.
A feature film of the first tour is expected in 2009 from the award-winning Argentine director Sergio Morkin, and his crew will film the current tour as well.
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