TOUR FOR A CAUSE
Laura Risk, interviewer / Liz Knowles, takeaways
Vermont-based musician Lissa Schneckenburger (fiddle, vocals, find her at https://lissafiddle.com) and her husband and musical partner Corey DiMario (tenor guitar, double bass) are planning a Musical Bike Adventure in Massachusetts and New Hampshire— a short tour entirely on bikes! They will be hauling their gear on bikes with electric assists, using this tour to spread the word to their friends, community, and politicians about the positive aspects and possibilities of bike transportation and the need for more bike infrastructure in the Northeast. We spoke with Lissa about the whys and hows of booking a bike tour with an activist agenda and the takeaways, challenges and unexpected positives from booking such a tour. Read the full interview in the BLOG.
For Lissa, promoting bike infrastructure in the Northeast aligns with her personal goals: reducing her carbon footprint while touring, staying active and healthy, and making an overall lifestyle choice to reduce her dependence on fossil fuels.
Have a clear idea of your legislative “ask.” What do you want to accomplish?
Connect with an activist group that is already doing that legislative work. (Lissa has connected with www.350vermont.org.)
Create a unique project that combines what you offer as an artist with the cause you want to support.
Determine your bike equipment (electric vs. pedal, cargo bike vs. lighter bike) according to the topography of your tour routing and the potential for bad weather.
Accommodating all passengers with particular styles of bikes and/or use of a “tag-along."
Ensure that you have storage areas for instruments, CDs, and personal items.
Weatherproof the bikes, the equipment and the people.
Building in time: it’s important to build a schedule that includes time for charging electric assists, for instance, and for potential maintenance and repair on the road.
Packing: bring as little as possible. One change of clothes!
Musical equipment: arrange to have some instruments available for you at the venues. Change the set-list to accommodate this availability and/or your ability to carry instruments.
What Lissa intends to do:
Before the tour—Publicity in the form of press releases and an email newsletter to her fan-base.
At the gig— Talk about the project during the show. Provide a postcard to audience members detailing how to contact their state representatives.
After the gig—Be available to talk to people about how they can help. Connect them with the activist groups that are involved in the project.
UNEXPECTED POSITIVES FROM BOOKING THE BIKE TOUR
Having an associated legislative agenda allows for more publicity opportunities.
A bike tour with a legislative ask is a special interest story and a conversation starter. It might appeal to a wider press audience, thereby creating a wider audience for your concert.
New fan base
Having to access venues within 25-50 miles of each other opens up a new fan base for the artist.
Venues benefit from this as well as they may have access to a different roster of artists, potentially appealing to a new audience base.
Building audiences by offering discounts for those who bike or walk to the gig.
Building community by encouraging audience members traveling to join the tour on their bikes and “caravan” from gig to gig.
For Lissa and Corey, biking to a gig is much more fun than driving in a car for four hours. Fresh air, great exercise, and lots of new people to meet! Experiencing “the road” at 70mph in a car is a very different experience than on a bike. And this will be a family tour for Lissa and Corey, too, as they are bringing their son with them. This will no doubt be a memorable experience for him!
For artists, making changes in logistics, routing, and travel routines can breathe new life into touring. New ways of touring can lead to the discovery of new venues and press opportunities. Most exciting is the potential for community-building along the way.
For venues and audiences, this is a new way to experience concert-going. They can feel that they are supporting not just an artist but a cause for the betterment of humanity.
CHALLENGES TO BOOKING A BIKE TOUR
Booking is tricky, even at the best of times! As artists, we are always careful not to book venues that are too close together so that one audience doesn’t detract from the other. It is a delicate juggling act and certainly more so when traveling on a bike. Distances between venues when biking must be within 25-50 miles to make it physically feasible. For Lissa, this necessity led her to discover some new and different venues. However, she was not able to include all of these venues on this tour as some were still too close together.
Moving the people. Lissa and Corey will be joined by their young son for this tour. While this will surely be a fantastic experience for them all on many levels, it does come with some extra planning and potential challenges: modifying equipment for seating, dealing with boredom, weatherproofing, etc. We hope to hear great things about how he fared! While some bands have family members that might need or want to travel with them, others may need to travel with a crew member such as a sound person. These negotiations are both personal and professional: does the sound person want to travel this way and, if so, how best to accommodate them in terms of equipment, pay, and time?
Fitness and health. Biking 25-50 miles a day is no small feat! Lissa spoke to us about how she is training for this upcoming tour. Even if one is in perfect health and physically well-prepared, accidents and injury are a risk. We at STAC wish Lissa and Corey all well on this trip!
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