🚲 Pedaling with a Purpose: Willy Porter & RTG honor Dan Aukofer ✌️

Rock the Green hosted two Rock the Stream's at Dan's Magical Music Barn in July 2020. The barn was impacted by a fire on August 4, 2020 followed by the sudden and tragic passing of Dan just after Thanksgiving.

Please consider a donation to help Dan's family repair the damage to the barn and bring joy & music back to the Aukofer family and the community.

“Dan Aukofer was like Winnie the Pooh,” quipped Milwaukee-based singer-songwriter Willy Porter in a recent Zoom interview, “Dan was the king of optimism. He knew everybody and everyone knew and loved him. Dan had this infectious positivity and was able to light up the room wherever we were and just make things better. The last gig that we were at together was this show at a ski hill, and I remember telling Dan, “My monitor is howling at me, and having him respond, ‘well the audience sure is having fun.’ That’s the kind of person Dan was… he was always able to put a bright spin on things.”

Porter and Aukofer first met about thirty years ago when Porter was gigging at small venues around the East Side of Milwaukee. Porter recalls one such show. “We were at Sherman’s Celebrity Club and the BoDeans were playing an acoustic set and I realized right away that Dan Aukofer was who I wanted to run sound for me whenever possible. The guy really knew what he was doing and how to mix music.”


Aukofer’s daughter, Angie Aukofer-Parker chimed in on the Zoom interview recalling a fond memory of her father. “Oh man,” Angie shared with a grin, “I worked lights for one of those shows with my dad and knew the chord changes for almost all of the BoDeans’ songs. I was about fifteen years old at the time and thought it was such a cool experience.”

The late Dan Aukofer and his longtime friend and fellow sound engineering enthusiast, Dan O’Brien were blessed to work with a multitude of different artists over the decades, 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 Golden contest.

Dan at the barn, July 2020

Last summer, I had the honor of meeting Dan Aukofer at his Magical Music Barn and enjoyed chatting with him a bit about the origins of the now-famous Pedal Power Stage. Aukofer explained, “About twelve years ago, I was a spin instructor, and had an idea while biking. 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 whole 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 backup 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.”

Willy Porter echoed Aukofer’s sentiments in a recent Zoom interview. “As a musician, we deal and trade in a world beyond the perimeter of our own existence and think more broadly. Sustainability is a pressing matter for us as residents of this planet. I am constantly working to refine my habits to help with our carbon footprint. When we get to experience something truly special like watching a bunch of people pedaling on the bikes to power the stage… well, that is just an incredible thing. As a performer, it is a totally unique experience.”

Last summer a fire on Aukofer’s property caused significant damage, including burning down one of the barns at the family’s Pewaukee residence. With Aukofer passing earlier this year, his family is hoping to raise funds to help restore the barn and also clean up some of the leftover debris, as much of the damage was not covered by insurance. This Rock the Stream show performed by Willy Porter from the Aukofer’s Magical Music Barn will be done with the proceeds going to help Aukofer’s family.

Angie Aukofer-Parker shared, “Dad was larger than life. He was a spectacle to behold. He loved music and loved dancing. Dad taught me so many life lessons. Live by the Golden Rule; value honesty; and love all music. My dad made my life extraordinary and beyond compare,”

Please tune in to hear the great Willy Porter play a special pedal-powered acoustic set in honor of a true environmental pioneer and wonderful human being--- Dan Aukofer this Thursday, May 13th on Rock the Green's Facebook and YouTube channels.


Please donate to the Aukofer Family's GoFundMe page

The story of the Magical Music Barn by Angie Aukofer-Parker, Dan's daughter

APRIL 29, 2021 UPDATE

I’m sure many of you have been waiting for an update from me… I can hardly believe it’s back in September that I first opened this account to try and help raise funds for my dad’s “Magical Music Barn” after a horrible fire that occurred in late august completely decimating one barn and leaving the other severely damaged. I imagine that most of you know that very unexpectedly, unfortunately, sadly, tragically my dad passed away in late November. Ugh…just saying that completely breaks my heart. How could this be?!! My dad!! I still cannot believe it…

So many times, since my dad left this earthly plane, I’ve wanted to write (my dad always loved my writing) and just haven’t been able to. I feel as if I’ve tripped, fallen over backward down into a bottomless well that’s completely black and unknown. Drowning in sorrow and despair. I feel as if my life (the ‘life’ I thought I was going to have) and my heart have been ripped asunder. I just cannot seem to reconcile the idea of ‘life’ without my dad… and the pain, sorrow, loss, and despair I feel for myself pales in comparison to how I feel for my mom…I have never had to bear witness to anything as tragic as this. Something I am completely powerless to do anything about.

I know we are not alone in this, so many care, so many have also experienced this type of loss, it is absolutely heartbreaking. We are so very blessed, beyond measure, to have so many who love and support us, so many who loved and supported my dad and yet this is where we are at, my mom and I, at a total loss~devastated~most days, barely making it. My dad left a HUGE irreplaceable hole in our lives. And so I have been unable to put pen to paper so to speak.

And yet life goes on. I know my dad would never want us to carry on in this way. And so with the help and support from all of you we are moving forward day by day, sometimes moment by moment. It has been requested by family and friends that I “update’ and ‘re-open’ this account so to speak and so I am… First and foremost, to each and every one of you who has already donated there are no good words to express our gratitude. Through every trial and tribulation, our family has had these last two years your outpouring of love, prayers, support, and generosity are beyond compare. I can tell you my dad was so touched, overwhelmed, and grateful, he truly loved each and every one of you. And what a gift for him to know, before he passed, how much ‘his life’ positively impacted all of ours. Not many people get to know that before their time is up.

As for an update on my dad’s Magical Music Barn…it was only about a week before he passed that the backside of the roof was re-done (see updated picture). Which is why I had written no prior updates. Just that side of the roof alone cost $10,000.00 which is what the original $4500.00 that was raised went toward. The ‘plan’ before my dad passed had been to re-roof the other side and essentially re-side the barn. If you look at the pictures much of the back and side was completely charred and although not as easily seen damaged in general. Honestly, I have no idea what the cost of this would be. It is certainly more than I originally imagined. So that my friends is where we are at. Once again, our deepest gratitude for your love, support, and generosity Love and Blessings, Angie

AUGUST 10, 2020

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 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