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By Paul Freedman
A Bicycle Music Festival is a day-long mobile festival of local music, powered by the community – on bikes!
Discover great local music and trust your ears. When you see a band you dig, tell them you’re planning a festival in a couple months and you’d love it if they’d perform. Since BMF is a busking festival, bands get paid directly by fans immediately after their performance. Even established bands are often willing to play a busking festival if you ask them in advance and emphasize the community nature of BMF. The Golden Geese are the volunteers.
A Pedal Powered Stage is one of the most inspiring aspects of the Bicycle Music Festival, but also a major project, both in terms of time and money. Using Pedal Power means using older, power hungry amps and speakers. If you’re starting from scratch, figure on spending a minimum of $5,000 on audio and pedal power gear. If you plan your festival far enough out, renting or borrowing Pedal Powered Stage gear may be an option. rockthebike.com/pedalpoweredstage
Get some roadies. A Bicycle Music Festival packs up and moves several times during the day. Pull in cargo bikers and expert haulers from your bike community to be roadies at your festival. Dispatch roadies to help bands get gear to the venues, turning bands on to bike-based performing and touring in the process.
Pick venues and routes that emphasize the best of local biking. SF’s BMF uses two park venues and is un-permitted, relying on community approval for our use of pedal powered – but still amplified – music.
BMF is a great example of the “Stone Soup” way of doing things. You put a vision out there, and people bring their individual contributions. Have faith in the concept when you’re asking people to help. Try to schedule a date that’s at least four to six months out, so you can anchor your festival. Leave each venue cleaner and more inspired than you found it.
Paul Freedman is the co-director of the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival, Founder of Rock The Bike, and the civilized alterego of Fossil Fool, The Bike Rapper.