David Byrne: On Bikes and Cities

May/June 2011 | Momentum Magazine | Online here

Listening to David Byrne talk about bikes, you might forget that the man is a legendary musician and world-famous artist, as well as an impassioned cyclist who’s keen to improve infrastructure and get more people on two wheels.

But the former Talking Heads performer is a reluctant advocate, although he is becoming one of the most famous faces of the North American bike revolution, thanks to his online journal and the book it spawned – The Bicycle Diaries. His follow-up tour, Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around, features a set of arty bike racks and stories from his years in the saddle.

“I haven’t wanted to be a real advocate or proselytizer,” he said in a phone interview from New York. “But if I sense that people are kind of ready and willing to try something, later I’ll say, ‘Well yes, this is how you do it, and this is how it’s done, and this is my experience, and the rest is up to you’.” Continue reading →

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Bowing at a Human Pace

January/February 2011 | Momentum Magazine | Download PDF

Musician Ben Sollee didn’t ride much before 2009, when he embarked on a 200-mile (322-kilometer) tour from his home in Lexington, KY, to the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, TN. But an ad for an Xtracycle cargo bike sparked the idea of using a bike for his music tours. He and his family now use a Surly Big Dummy in place of a minivan.

He’s covered a lot of ground since then. A December 2009 trip was followed by the 2010 Ditch the Van tour, for which Sollee – along with percussionist Jordan Ellis, tour manager Katie Benson and her brother, filmmaker Marty Benson – cycled 1,800 of the 4,000 miles from California to Washington, DC.

The idea of a pedal-powered tour is tinged with green, but environmental concerns aren’t what motivated Sollee.

“If I was trying to do it to save the world or be green, I think it would stop pretty quick,” he said. Continue reading →

Five Alarm Funk: Servants to the Music

Spring 2011 | Renegade Radio | Online here

Five Alarm Funk

Five Alarm Funk onstage during the 2008 Vancouver Jazz Festival. Picture courtesy the band.

If you could somehow bottle up a Five Alarm Funk show, you’d have a new source of alternative energy.

The 10-man Vancouver band’s brassy blend of funk, rock and world music powers an onstage show complete with dance moves, choreographed arm movements and the occasional shark-gorilla wrestling match.

“It’s an all-around show,” says saxophonist Dameian Walsh, “not a music recital.” Almost all of the moves started out spontaneously, he explains. “It it’s cool, we keep it.”

It’s a sentiment that sums up much of what the band – which in addition to Walsh features four percussionists, two guys on guitar, one on bass, two blowing on trumpets, and another on the trombone – does. Continue reading →

The Show Must Go On

January 5, 2011 | Momentum Magazine 

“I don’t even remember sleeping last night,” says Brendt Barbur. That’s because on the September day when I managed to get him on the phone he’s running on two hours of sleep – caught between two overseas phone calls at 5:30 and 7:30 in the morning – and trying to deal with a problem in Korea, where his Bicycle Film Festival headed in October.

It’s one of 40 cities the festival hit in 2010, its 10th year. By the time it wrapped up, Barbur had circled the globe – he estimates that he was attending 75 percent of this year’s events. (He attended every event until 2008, when he didn’t go to an after after party.)

It’s a grueling schedule, and one that might be wearing him down: He told festival-goers in New York in June that 2010 was going to be BFF’s last year.

“It came after not sleeping for two weeks,” he says of the statement. “It’s a lot of work, and not what I want to do with my life.” Continue reading →

Fixed On Photography

November/December 2010 | Momentum Magazine | Download PDF

Matt Lingo was watching his friends at the skate park – he was sidelined by a head injury – when he picked up a camera and started taking their pictures. When sponsors started buying his work, he decided to make a career of it.

Seven years later, the San Diego-based photographer shoots mostly candid shots of strangers and cityscapes. Fixed-gear bikes, which he started riding two-and-a-half years ago, seemed like a natural progression in his career, and he now works regularly for cycling companies and fixed-gear magazines.

“I was always interested in documenting urban environments,” said Lingo, “and I saw bikes as a way that people can cut through the congestion and urban sprawl I was photographing. If you’re on a bike, all of a sudden it becomes an adventure; you’re having fun.”

His bicycle photography can be seen in the 2009 book This City Can’t Swallow Me. Lingo is at work on a second book: “It’s more about the people who make up the fixed-gear scene, than about the bikes.”

mattlingo.com

The Art of Recycling Bikes

September/October 2010 | Momentum Magazine | Download PDF

The 13th puncture turned out to be a lucky one for Graham Bergh. As he prepared to replace the heavily patched inner tube, he wondered: “Okay, what do you do with this?”

Unable to bring himself to just throw it out, the recycling educator turned it into a cradle for his speakers.

“I just started tinkering with the material, talking to bike shops, finding out they throw away like a thousand tubes per shop,” Bergh said. “There are 4,000 shops in the US. I did the math: There were four million tubes no one was doing anything with.” Continue reading →

Da Gryptions Ride Bixi Rap Into Summer

June 23, 2010 | Momentum Magazine | Online here

Da Gryptions

Patrick Guay, Trevor Barnes and Evan Cranley of Montreal group Da Gryptions. Photo courtesy Da Gryptions.

Since going live on YouTube June 8, The Bixi Anthem, Da Gryptions’ ode to Montreal’s bike-share program, has garnered more than 10,000 hits and is being heralded by some as the city’s “song of the summer.”

“Not,” says lead rapper Patrick Guay, aka Dark Science, “that Bixi needs the help being cool.”

The program, which celebrated its first anniversary in May, has nearly 5,000 bikes at 400 stations around the city. For $5 for 24 hours, $28 a month or $78 a year, Montrealers can borrow a bike for up to 30 minutes (longer rides accrue additional fees). Riders seem to be on board with it – by the end of October, 10,000 people had signed up for the program, and made more than 1,000,000 trips.

With that kind of following, Guay isn’t surprised at the popularity of The Bixi Anthem video. “We knew from the beginning that we had something,” he says. “People reacted to it.” Continue reading →