I AM MOVED as I watch an online video of last year’s Victoria Bicycle Music Festival (VBMF). The combination of elements—a lovely summer’s day; an ebullient pack of all-ages cyclists creating a colourful parade through neighbourhood streets; the sweet, intimate, relaxed performances of live music; audience-pedalled bike generators powering the musicians’ sound equipment—well, it turns my crank.
James Davis is a co-founder and director of this third-annual, mini-music-fest-on-wheels. He’s hopped off his bike, commuting home from work, to speak to me on the phone. He tells me he was so inspired by a similar event in San Francisco that he founded a Toronto version of the fest in 2007. When he relocated to Victoria, “a group of friends— people I just met— the five of us organized the first Victoria Bicycle Music Festival in July of 2017.”
The inaugural year of the mobile musical event went really well. “We started in Central Park, beside Crystal Pool, with a great couple of sets…rode over to Banfield Park in Vic West, had a couple of sets of music there, a dance party on that side of town—that was really great.” These outdoor concerts are free, accessible to anyone; you don’t have to be on a bike. Riders this year will start at Pioneer Square Downtown and tour through the city to Porter Park in Fairfield.
It’s a compact festival. “We’ve got a very small footprint; we don’t have staging, we don’t set up tents, we set up everything we can fit on our cargo bikes,” Davis explains.
For Davis, “Bicycling has always been my mode of transportation; I’ve never owned a car…I just love bikes—such an elegant, efficient, and intelligent machine.”
VBMF’s headliner this year will be Rae Spoon, an award-winning non-binary musician and author who has released nine solo albums spanning folk, indie rock and electronic genres. Local singer/songwriter Elder Sister Plum and the Resistance Rising Choir will also appear.
Festival headliner Rae Spoon
Pioneer Square (1-3pm) and Porter Park (4-6:30pm). Free to all, but helmet will be passed for the musicians during each set. vicbikemusicfest.ca for more info.