The Acoustic Bicycle Tour is an ongoing performance journey where I travel solely on bicycle, presenting solo concerts and playing with ensembles of area musicians. The endeavor is an act of composition, a performance art piece, a philosophical statement, a celebration of musical community, and an exercise in extreme physicality. For me, there are clear analogies between choosing to travel by bike and choosing to pursue a career in creative music: the trip may be slower and more arduous, but it is ultimately more rewarding in its acoustic pleasures and unexpected delights.In September 2010, I undertook one of the more unusual projects of my career: a two-week, 800-mile performance journey to all six New England states traveling only by bicycle. I presented my music every night, playing in venues ranging from state parks to art galleries to concert halls. Upon completion of the trip, I realized the composition was still a work-in-progress; I want to refine and expand the concept, bringing it to more parts of the US and potentially abroad. In the late summer and early fall of 2014, I will make a five-week, 1800-mile West Coast Acoustic Bicycle Tour, going border to border from Vancouver to Tijuana.I will perform a new body of music for the project, solos and ensemble pieces to explore with local artists I encounter on the road. For the solo performances, I am incorporating spoken text partly inspired by conversations from my first tour. I blur the lines between musical lecture and verbal improvisation; interspersing structured improvisations on my cornet with thoughts on aesthetics and philosophy, the politics and economics of the arts, and the joys of creative engagement. For the small ensemble concerts, I am hoping to both cultivate new relationships and further pre-existing collaborations with some of the fantastic performers based throughout the West Coast; confirmed collaborators include clarinetist Francois Houle (Vancouver), pianist Wayne Horvitz (Seattle), the Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble and singer Holcombe Waller (Portland), tubaist Greg Moore (Arcata), saxophonist James Fei (Oakland), pianist Myra Melford (Berkeley), saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh (San Jose), flutist Nicole Mitchell (Los Angeles), and bassist Mark Dresser (San Diego).
The context of the performance allows me unusual access to the general public. The idiosyncratic nature of the project attracts an audience well beyond the avant-music cognoscenti, generating a discussion about everything from aesthetics to the environment, while illustrating the struggles and rewards of both alternative musical forms and alternative means of transportation. I learned on the first trip that I should not over-program my journey. I will reserve time for the surprise detour, for the improvisational moment in the travel. I will also maintain an online journal including video and audio components, to allow audiences to share in the music of even the most solitary moments. Upon completion, I will produce some form of physical documentation of the work, ideally a book/audio package including recordings, writings, and perhaps photos and video from the experience.
The project is supported by a 2013 Performing Arts Grant from Creative Capital.