We hosted two Rock the Stream's at Dan's magical music barn and had 10 more shows slated to take place there along with pedal power to power the live shows. Tragically, the barn was impacted by a fire on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 4th at 3pm. Please see details below along with a Go Fund Me link to help Dan and The Barn.
Dan Aukofer and Dan O’Brien, the founders and creators of the Power by the People have been long-time environmental advocates- dating back to the first Earth Day.
Dan Aukofer explains, “Oh my, to think about the history of the Pedal Power Stage, we have to go way back to the very first Earth Day, back in 1970. Dan O’Brien, my wife and I were part of a folk assembly event that our high school (New Berlin West) put on in celebration of the very first Earth Day. Dan O’Brien and I put together the sound system, my wife sang at the event, and Dan performed as well. He is a guitarist. Then, a year later, we were in a class together that required a major project. Our project was a multi-media production- with five projectors, three screens, and movies and pictures from all over the country for an environmental production. We shared this with the entire school, and in many ways, this was the start of our environmental consciousness, something that has stuck with all of us since that time. Thinking about ways to be better environmental stewards is just something that my wife and Dan O’Brien and I have always been about.”
Dan Aukofer and Dan O’Brien were blessed to work with a multitude due of different artists as sound engineers, ranging from local acts like Willy Porter and the BoDeans, who grew to more national and international fame, to larger national and international acts, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers who Aukofer and O’Brien worked with at the North Pole for a Molson Gold contest.
“About twelve years ago, I was a spin instructor, and had an idea while biking,” Dan Aukofer shared. “Both Dan O’Brien and I had both been audio engineers since high school, and I thought about the amount of power being wasted watching the bikers ride their stationary bikes in the spin class. Then, I thought about the sound and light shows that Dan and I engineered and about how much energy was being wasted there too, and I wondered, is there a way to create a live concert experience that could include the concept of people creating energy and power for the band, and the whole concept of “Power by the People” was born. The big question we asked was, ‘how can we turn these spin bikes into power generating machines?’ and the who idea of ‘pedal power’ was born.”
“There is no one doing something this sophisticated in terms of sound and light, and powering it with human power,” Aukofer added with an ear-to-ear grin. “We can literally power an entire rock band with a good-sized sound system, all with human power. Obviously, we have thought this through, as different bands have different amounts of members and unique power needs. All of the energy generated by the bikers either goes towards powering the band and the audio-visual equipment for the stage itself or else is pooled into the back-up generator, which also supplements power when need be. It’s all about creating power by the people! If we have all eleven bikes up and powered by a bike team, there’s no problem at all, and sometimes they even have to back off from producing too much power, if that makes sense. However, we’ve designed the spin bikes to be ridden by anyone-- from the established biker to the average person… anyone can enjoy the experience of creating power through biking.”
Dan Aukofer and Dan O’Brien’s concept of a stage run by “people power,” has become a notable mainstay at the Rock the Green's Annual Earth Day Celebrations and Rock the Green's Sustainability Festivals for some time now.
“In addition to all of the Rock the Green Festivals, since the first one in 2012, we’ve taken our people power set-up on the road,” Aukofer shared. “We’ve been at the Energy Fair in Custer, WI for three years in a row now. We have done Rock the Green's Annual Earth Day Celebration (Trapper Schoepp even hopped on during his set to pedal!) dating back to the first one taking place outside of City Hall in 2012, which has been outstanding too.”
“I’m so very happy to be working with Lindsay Stevens,” Aukofer beamed ear-to-ear while sharing, “My goodness is she a tireless source of energy! I just love her. She works so hard for this cause, and working with her and everyone at Rock the Green has been just so invigorating and fantastic! I hope that we are able to do a lot more stuff around the country next year. Bringing the community together is what Rock the Green is all about and what we’re all about as well. I am proud to be part of this movement to create zero-waste shows.”
While it was wonderful to hear Dan Aukofer’s tireless enthusiasm for the pedal power stage and Rock the Green’s mission, I realized that in order to truly understand how the pedal-power stage worked, there was only one thing for me to do… bike myself and power the band!
I have never been to a spin class, nor have I ridden a spin bike before. Even with one of my closest friend’s wives being a spin instructor, I have had little interest in spin biking. In a weird way, the fact that you are moving without traveling, while spin biking, is one of those oddities that I could never fully get over.To me, if you want to take a bike ride, hop on your bike and go for a spin, and check things out. With spin bikes and spin class a two great big unknowns, let’s just say I was a bit hesitant to try to add my energy to the “people power matrix.”
With kind encouragement from Lindsay Stevens and her kids, as well as my own family, I hopped on the ol’ saddle and gave the pedal power bike a whirl for Olen Franklin’s funky, jammy, jazzy 75-minute set. Lindsay's daughter, Alice, and my daughter's, Hope & Grace, even hopped on to help power the show! I biked with the attitude of, “if I can do this-- as a 42-year-old person, who could stand to lose a few pounds, then others like me could try it too. Everyone has the opportunity to make a new start for themselves each and every day, right.
75 minutes later, did I make it…yes! We're my legs gelatinous? Oh, you know they were! Was my gluteus maximus a bit on the sore side? I put a Ziploc bag of ice underneath it before bed… just sayin’!
Above all, however, I felt like my efforts in biking, as simple and small as they were, provided for some folks, a sense of community-awareness, kindness, and above all, universal hope that maybe, even during one of the most divisive times in American history, we can unite as a greater community for the environment, a greater cause that literally unites us all as humans on this planet.
Thinking about others’ needs can help fuel your ride, wherever it is going and wherever it is from.
The Pedal Power Stage, created by Dan and Dan has become a mainstay as part of the Rock the Green Sustainability Festival and Earth Day Celebrations. We are blessed to have such an amazing system so very close, and curated by two wonderful, passionate gentlemen and life long friends.
A note from Angie, Dan Aukofer's daughter, regarding the fire that impacted the beloved barn on August 4th
For those of you that don't know, I am Dan and Deb Aukofer's daughter Angie. As many of you know about a week ago my parents suffered a terrible fire at our family farm. Unfortunately our back barn burned to the ground. Thanks to the AMAZING efforts of countless firefighters our front barn, that many of you know and love as much as we do, was spared and is still standing! This is truly a miracle! The fire chief told my mom and dad that in over 30+ years of fire fighting he has never seen a barn saved! Sadly she it is not without some serious damage and needs repair.
I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that as a family we do not have the necessary funds in order to do the repairs needed to preserve our beautiful barn. As many of you know, almost two years ago my dad suffered a dissected aorta which landed him in the hospital for two weeks (by the grace of God he's still with us!) Then about 3 weeks prior to Covid and our statewide shut down we found out that my dad's aorta was bulging and growing! After an initial postponement my dad finally had pretty extensive surgery to reinforce his entire aorta on June 11th. Due to it's 'fragile' state my dad has had to be off work for some time and will continue to be off for the foreseeable future.
I completely understand that these are and have been 'hard times' for sooooo many (my heart aches for anyone struggling and suffering during this time, it really has been tough, I feel for you), but if you have the wherewithal and feel so moved I would be so grateful for any assistance at this time. I am honestly not sure at this point 'what' repairs are needed and 'how much' they will cost, we are working on getting estimates, but whatever they may be it is my hope that they might be able to be completed before the snow flies. My folks could really use a break and some help. My dad would never ask for help he's too proud and thinks he can do everything himself, but he cannot. So I am asking for him.
Would you be so kind as to help us save our 'magical music barn', (as someone lovingly referred to it) ? It has been home to weddings, yoga classes, church services, birthdays, drum circles, countless musical events, and most recently 'virtual' live streaming human powered bike shows in collaboration with Rock the Green. It is my hope that with your help these events can and will continue to bring love, peace, joy and music to our community! Thank you and God bless!
PLEASE DONATE TO The Barn's Go Fund Me HERE