🚲 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.”