In 2007, the Ginger Ninjas became the first band in the history of rock and roll to tour by bicycle, unsupported by automobile. On a 5000 mile
odyssey from their home in Northern California to the pyramids of Southern Mexico, they promoted transportation cycling while also exploring the frontiers of pedal-generated electricity, using their own bikes to power a hyper-efficient sound system. The audience took turns getting on stage to pedal the bikes to make the sound, taking crowd participation to a new level. Originally conceived as a one-time adventure/statement/experiment, the band became addicted to low impact touring, and now has its sights set on a world tour.
"Before the Mexico tour, I honestly didn't know if what we were setting out to do was even physically possible," says front man Kipchoge Spencer. "A couple of months in, we realized that it wasn't just possible, but there was something easy about the rhythm of it (despite the grueling uphills with 200 pound bikes), and the next logical thought was, 'let's tour the world this way.'"
The Ginger Ninjas' mobile human-power stage is the first of its kind in history. Coupling super efficient digital amplifiers, lightweight components, and generators attached to working bicycles (as opposed to purpose-built stationary bikes), the system allows a band to play off-grid anywhere, wall outlet or no, and to also carry the system to a gig on the same bicycles (Xtracyclesport utility bicycles, a company started by Spencer). This enables a new kind of completely self-sufficient bicycle touring, sans automobile support. On the band's most recent tour, the system and touring style enabled them to avoid generating close to 60,000 pounds of CO2, or 95% of what a similar sized band creates in a similar tour.
The band's lead vocalists, Eco Lopez and Spencer, met on a piano bench. They played a 30 minute song together, a transcendent gospel soul thing that made them both tremble. The Ginger Ninjas became their musical love story, as written on the back of a magic envelope. Listen to either alone and you hear a fully formed solo artist. But together, they blend as only those who've found their muse can, spacially, lyrically, and sonically, creating something bigger than its parts. With their jazz-trained band, or as a duo, they skip through genres, from folk punk to folk funk to Latin ballads, simple ska, and fantasy American
bluegrass, he with the grabby rhythms and brainy rhymes, she with the clean melodies (in Spanish, English, and French), a Russian hat, and heart melting voice.
They call their style "mind shaking love groove folk funk roots rock explosive international pedal powered mountain music for a pleasant revolution."
The Ginger Ninjas and supporting act, Crystal Stafford (indie-electro-folk), will be launching their world tour in August, hitting the Democratic and Republican Conventions before cycling around the East Coast and Florida through September and October, and then leaving the country for points south, east, and west.
A feature film of the first tour is expected in 2009 from the award-winning Argentine director Sergio Morkin, and his crew will film the current tour as well.
Shows, tours, press:
Michael Franti and Spearhead
-Band’s bicycle lifestyle was featured in 6 episodes of an MTV show
Past Performances at:
2nd Annual Bicycle Music Festival
Oregon Country Fair
Whole Earth Festival
Headliner at Girdwood Forest Festival
Natural Products Expo
Headliner of Clif Bar 2-Mile Challenge Tour 2007;
6 dates on New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat;
Coverage by every major Mexican newspaper and TV network (see samples in press section)
Tours in: California, Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington
Kipchoge Spencer- Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica.
Eco Lopez- Guitar, Percussion, Keyboard, Vocals.
Jared May- Bass , Keyboard, Vocals.
Brock Wollard- Drums, Percussion, Vocals.
Horse Creek 1999
Don't Call Me Kip 2001
Vitamin L 2002
Where the Rubber Meets the Road 2004
Dick Cheney (single) 2004
The Pleasant Revolution EP 2007
Stanford Magazine Review
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Spinning Tunes Kipchoge Spencer was somewhere in Mexico, and so was I. We had that going for us...Spinning Tunes
Kipchoge Spencer was somewhere in Mexico, and so
was I. We had that going for us. But other than know-
ing that Spencer, ’96, and his rock band, the Ginger
Ninjas, were riding bicycles across the state of Jalisco,
I was clueless, and attempts to learn more—text mes-
sages sent, blogs scrutinized, a publicist interrogated
by cell phone—hadn’t produced any concrete leads. I
hired a taxi in Guadalajara. The driver took me four
hours west to the town of Mascota. No Ninjas. I
reached for my phone once again and then had a bet-
ter idea: rolling down the taxi window, I waved to a
passerby. “¿Visto usted los gringos en bicicletas?” I asked.
“Si,” he responded, pointing straight ahead. Two min-
utes later I was shaking hands with Spencer.
The Ginger Ninjas—Spencer, singer/guitarist Eco
Lopez and drummer Brock Wollard—and an entou-
rage of a dozen riders were lounging in Mascota’s
central plaza. A small group of Mexicans strolled by,
some glancing discreetly, some gaping. The Ninjas
had forgone many of the usual trappings of a rock
band on tour, most notably the tour bus. The band
was traveling 5,000 miles, from Northern California
to southern Mexico, entirely by bike. Starting last
November, the group had cycled for three months
down the Sierra and across the Central Valley; atop
the bluffs of the Central Coast and through the
sprawl of Los Angeles; along the beaches of Baja, and
now to mountainous Jalisco, 600 miles south of the
U.S. border. The final destination was the jungle of
Chiapas, near Guatemala.
With concerns about climate change escalating,
it was perhaps inevitable that musicians would get in
on the carbon-mitigation act. The Rolling Stones and
Coldplay purchase offsets; Korn and the Dave Mat-
thews Band tour in biodiesel-fueled buses. It is one
thing, however, to trim emissions and another to elim-
inate them almost entirely, as the Ninjas have done.
Theirs is possibly the world’s first self-supported bicy-
cle tour by a rock band. The tour name is The Pleasant
Revolution, which Spencer calls the ultimate experiment
in “environmentally sustainable rock ’n’ roll.”
As I assembled my bike so that I could ride along
for a few days, the band was having a discussion.
“Who called this meeting, anyway?” Spencer asked.
“I did,” said Wollard, who was wearing a bright
dashiki over Hawaiian shorts. (He had been hired,
via craigslist in San Diego, after a disagree-
ment with the group’s previous percussion-
ists—“they insisting on LSD as their way to
learn the songs, us insisting on practice,”
Spencer explained in an e-mail to friends.)
“Okay, what would you like to talk about?”
“I would like to know, first of all, where
the hell are we going?”
The question was not uncommon. The
itinerary called for heading to Guadalajara,
but, as was often the case, an intriguing detour
had presented itself. In Talpa de Allende, an
isolated mountain pueblo, Catholic pilgrims
from hundreds of miles around were gather-
ing for a festival. It commemorated a 17th-
century, papally recognized miracle involving
a decaying statuette of the Virgin Mary that
had been struck by a bolt of lightning and
made new. Thousands of people would be in
Talpa to eat, drink, pray and celebrate. After
a short discussion, the band members decided that
they should go, too.
Pedestrians gawked as the two-wheeler caravan
left Mascota on a cobbled road. The bikes were bur-
dened with camping gear, clothing and musical equip-
ment. Wollard toted a full drum kit. Joey Chang, a
guest musician with the band, biked with a cello,
which, I found out later, he could play while simulta-
neously rapping and beat-boxing. (His weren’t the
only curious talents—entourage member Toby Rob-
inson was a veteran of international footbag and rock-
paper-scissors competitions.) Bear Dyken, another
rider, pedaled up beside me and pointed down at his
ride. “We have the kitchen, the bedroom, the music
studio and the exercise gym all in one,” he said.
We turned onto a rutted dirt track. As it snaked
upward into piney mountains, the convoy spread
apart, and I rode with Spencer. Since graduating
from Stanford with a degree from the interdisciplin-
ary earth systems program, he has been a man of
many vocations—musician, white-water rafting
guide, television star (he was on MTV’s The Reality
Show, in which he demonstrated environmentally
sustainable living) and entrepreneur. In 1998, he and
another Stanford graduate, Ross Evans, ’97, founded
Xtracycle, which makes kits that extend the rear
wheel of a bike to add cargo bags and a small wooden
platform. The carrying capacity is up to 150 pounds,
and most of the riders on the tour were equipped
Spencer’s home is an off-the-grid retreat in the
mountains north of Nevada City, Calif.; he humor-
ously refers to himself as a “self-absorbed headstrong
buylocalorganofascist.” A cult-of-personality figure in
the bike-activist movement (for example, the Criti-
cal Mass events held each month when thousands of
cyclists take to the streets together in cities around
the world), he believes riding is the solution to many
social and environmental problems. But Spencer is a
lead-by-example rather than a lecturing type, and he
says that people should ride bikes not just because
it’s more sustainable but also because it’s more fun.
“The Pleasant Revolution is about realizing that by
giving up cars we gain a life that’s way more rich,
humane and happy,” Spencer said. “Anybody who
stops driving and starts biking feels that.”
The tour was also about luck. When the band and
crew were hungry, strangers would materialize to
provide a hot meal. When they couldn’t find a place
to camp, newfound friends would put them up. “In
60 days of Mexican travel, we’ve paid for lodging
three times,” Spencer wrote in an e-mail dispatch.
“Most of the time we’ve found ourselves in secret vil-
las and mystic ranches and even a couple of seaside
mansions.” A musical performance won the group ferry
passage from the Baja Peninsula to the Mexican main-
land. A few days later, after a man saw them struggling
up a steep mountain pass, he let them stay by a hot
springs in a private ecological reserve. “Our joke is
that The Pleasant Revolution may not be a revolution,
but it definitely has been pleasant,” Spencer said.
After camping that night on the rim of a gorge
under Ponderosa pines, we woke the
next morning to shouts, laughter and
exploding firecrackers. Correction: It
was still night, starlit and cold, but
hundreds of jubilant pilgrims were
streaming through camp, which, in
our exhaustion, we’d pitched more or
less right on the trail. Some people
carried clear plastic boxes on their backs that held
statues of the Virgin; others had rocks in their shoes
to increase the ardor of the pilgrimage. Many had
been trekking for days.
We reached Talpa at midday after an exhilarating
descent from a mountain pass. The historic pueblo,
cradled in the valley below, was flooded with cele-
brants. Gilded steeples rose above the stone church
that held the miraculous statuette. In the plaza out-
side, men blasted trumpets, trombones and tubas at
triple forte; couples danced; and strangers would
hand you a beer if you stood still for a minute. The
location was ideal for a show.
That night Dante Espinosa, band engineer and
roadie-in-chief, put two bikes on stands so that the
rear wheels no longer touched the ground. When
pedaled, they would generate electricity to power the
sound system. As a crowd of curious Mexicans gath-
ered around, Dante and another
entourage member mounted
the bikes and pedaled. Spen-
cer and Lopez began to sing
and strum, and sound explod-
ed from the speakers, no elec-
tric outlets in sight.
The music combined rock,
bluegrass and reggae, with
lyrics in both English and
Spanish—Lopez is Uruguay-
an, and Spencer speaks profi-
ciently as well. The songs had
the chilled-out confessional
quality of Jack Johnson and
the internationalism and
political bite of Manu Chau.
The audience response was
tepid initially. Lopez called
for volunteers to pedal but
nobody came forward. Speaking in Spanish, Spencer
announced, “We’re here to educate people about
how to live without gasoline. It’s a slower but more
fulfilling way of life.” He kept his composure even as
an exuberant man lurched forward and attempted to
pour rum down Spencer’s throat.
The band kicked into a second number, then a
third. With each one the crowd got louder, larger and
more appreciative. Between songs, a man wearing
riding chaps and a Stetson came up and told Lopez
that he never liked American rock music—until now.
“No electricity?” asked another man, looking amazed.
Lopez just smiled and nodded. I learned later that
these reactions were typical. At first the Ginger Nin-
jas were the crazy norteamericanos, but soon everyone
wanted to be their friends. The first show in a new
place would be free, but the next night and the night
after, locals would hire the Ninjas to play, providing
much-needed funds to keep the tour afloat.
The next time Lopez called for volunteers, two
men came forward immediately; for the rest of the
set people were practically fighting each other for
the opportunity to pedal-power the band. The gre-
garious drunk found his way back to Wollard, who
accepted an offering of rum, while playing, but only
after he realized that the man was going to pour it on
him whether he opened his mouth or not. Hundreds
of people cheered as the band kicked into an up-
tempo ska number. Spencer and Lopez sang together,
“Call it a renaissance, call it anything you like; the
revolution is coming on a bike.”
JAMES VLAHOS is a writer for National Geographic
Adventure and other magazines. He lives in Berkeley.
A Convenient Truth: Pleasant Revolution Bicycle Music Tour Advances ‘Ecological Amplification’
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A new approach to energy conservation by bands on the road is being pioneered even as this is writte...A new approach to energy conservation by bands on the road is being pioneered even as this is written, and it could hardly be more back-to-basics and environmentally friendly. How practical it is for others on the road is a whole other question. But we digress.
On Halloween 2007, the indie rock bands Ginger Ninjas and SHAKE YOUR PEACE! launched The Pleasant Revolution Bicycle Music Tour in North San Juan, CA. From the Sierra Nevada mountains through southern California, into Baja and eventually Mexico City, the team has played shows, recorded music with local musicians, and advocated a leapfrog-style transition to sustainable transportation.
During shows, two guitars, two vocal microphones and the bass are amplified through the portable audio system, which includes two JBL PRX512M loudspeakers halfway between the drummer and the two singers up front. To power the system itself, four Xtracycle bikes (elongated bicycles for extra carrying capacity) are set up in the air on kickstands, allowing the wheels to spin freely and turn a generator (a small DC motor run in reverse). The generator in turn goes into a capacitor to control the voltage. An indicator on the handlebars tells the "riders" (always volunteers from the audience) whether to pedal harder, cruise, or stop. The four capacitors feed a high-quality inverter, into which an eight-channel mixer and the two PRX512M loudspeakers are plugged, creating a 1,000-watt, portable, human-powered sound system.
The entire system is packed onto the Xtracycles for transportation between shows, a task that requires an optimal combination of power and light weight from the audio components. "When you are a traveling bike band, you also want music on the road," said Kipchoge Spencer, lead singer of the Ginger Ninjas, co-founder of Xtracycle and organizer of The Pleasant Revolution Bicycle Music Tour. "So I'm carrying one of the PRX512M speakers on the rear deck of my Xtracycle. With an iPod and a lightweight lithium phosphate battery [charged by a 26-watt folding Brunton solar panel], we have a 500-watt 'soul cycle' with amazing thump and brilliant attitude."
Although Spencer did not anticipate audiences to be larger than 300 people, crowd sizes have often reached 500. "The tour has been amazing so far, so much so that we extended it for a few more months," Spencer says. "We've been playing some really great shows, some planned but many just impromptu in the town plazas."
According to Spencer, the power efficiency of the PRX512M loudspeakers has contributed significantly to the success of the tour. "The PRX loudspeakers are the only speakers in the world that I'm aware of that could make this system possible," Spencer added. "Not only are they light, but the built-in amplification is efficient enough to make good use of our limited amount of human power. And they sound amazing. The hyper-efficient digital amplifier puts them in a class by themselves when it comes to ecological amplification. Whether or not you're a self-propelled bicycle road show, you should be using these speakers if you care about saving energy."
When asked about venturing beyond California and Mexico, Kipchoge replies, "I am hoping that we’ll make it to the East Coast before long, but don’t wait for us to get there to get yourself an Xtracycle lifestyle alteration!"
More information on The Pleasant Revolution Bicycle Music Tour is available at www.pleasantrevolution.net.
Band Review/Interview Inglese
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Riding to Mexico City MERETRICES LITTERARY MAGAZINE By Arturo Garcia CHAPALA, JALISCO. ...Riding to Mexico City
MERETRICES LITTERARY MAGAZINE
By Arturo Garcia
CHAPALA, JALISCO. The rock group Ginger Ninjas is passing through Lake Chapala on a 5,000 mile journey from the Sierras of Northern California to the jungles of Chiapas, visiting our entire country and giving hundreds of shows along the way with their bike powered energy source. Yesterday, Saturday February 16th, this activist/pacifist band gave a free concert at the Fuente de los Pescadores del Malecon (Fishermen's Fountain at the Pier). The Director of the Cultural Office of the Municipality of Chapala, Sergio Unzueta, in coordination with the Office of Culture of the State of Jalisco, introduced the band within the framework of the "Chapala Vivo" festival.
The afternoon air is clean. The pier proudly boasts its new glittering stone pavement. In spite of its polluted green color, the lake seems closer to us. Its waters now bathe the sandy beach which, for those of us who grew up along its shores, used to symbolize the vast enclave of conformity. In the distance, a sailing boat is having a love affair with the waves dancing to the rhythm of the music coming from Fishermen's Fountain. The sun is setting, and when it finally hides a magnificent palette of colors and golden shades opens before our eyes. This afternoon, lake Chapala is more alive than ever. There is a spark of life that bursts from the palm trees and the willows that flank the Fountain . The three North American Flags are waving with the breeze flowing through the material souls of the cello, the drums, the microphones, the speakers and the bicycles that surround us. Peace reigns. The relaxed spectators take their places close to the band members which are now starting to warm up their bicycles and their instruments. And there I am with my two sons, right in front of the stage, waiting to hear what would be one of the best concerts of my life.
The Ginger Ninjas & Cello-Joe from
This Rock/Funk/Experimental group calls itself the Ginger Ninjas. No matter that my knowledge of music is rather limited, what truly matters is that nothing can possibly distract me when I listen to Cello Joe play and sing by himself; his music brings joy and inspiration. Cello Joe is a very cool and extremely talented young man, who graduated from the Berkeley University School of Music. His attire is casual, he wears huaraches as sandals and as a headpiece he is using a piñata in the shape of Disney's famous donkey, Eeyore. His message is captivating. In a somewhat funny Spanish, accompanied by the sounds of his instrument, Cello Joe involves us in a totally creational and recreational atmosphere in which the message is "get rid of cars/ride a bicycle/take care of the environment". The crowd is moved when, in favorable terms, he compares Mexico to the United States and launches an appeal to open peoples' awareness so that they do not make the same mistakes as their neighbor from the North, where oil is the centerpiece of the engines of mobility.
Eco: a seductive voice honoring her name.
Eco Lopez is the very soul of the band. Her voice seduces us evoking the softness and the sensuality of the soul; a mixture of Gustafson, O'Riordan and Torroja. Highs and lows, whisperings to the microphone. I quiver in astonishment when listening to the lyrics of "Total Believer", sung in a perfect and harmonious duet with Kipchoge. Kiss me if you like/Kiss me if you like. The words we hear are transformed into a spiral of invocations to the angels and deities of The Song of Solomon. Eco, who is from Uruguay, has been with the band for two years and, riding atop her "Squash" as she calls her Xtracycle Sport Utility Bicycle which is equipped with a sort of rack in the back capable of carrying up to 100 lbs of weight, she travels with the group accompanied by her copilot, "Thing 1", the doll from the Dr. Seuss' series. "He is my inspiration" she says, "Thing 1 goes with me everywhere, he gives me courage when I am riding". "Look at him! Poor guy, he looks so dirty, but he is so happy!"
Kipchoge: An Ideal pushed by a bicycle in support of a "Pleasant Revolution".
Kipchoge is the leader of this Cycling/Rocking/Activist band; his hit "Dick Cheney" distinguishes him as a rocker hungry for change, promoting love and an environmentally conscious eco-friendly lifestyle as his banners. But Kipchoge is more than that. He is an idealist, a peaceful revolutionary who uses music both as his attack weapon and as his defense armor. It is no easy task selling the idea of leaving everything behind in order to travel an entire country by bicycle opening up peoples' minds while trying to survive from concerts. Nonetheless, his idea became an ideal which sprung to life this bicycle tour that is leaving its footprint everywhere it goes. Kipchoge talks very seriously about his endeavor and in a very clear Spanish he tells me: "You should use your bike more often, you can start by biking to work". I thought it could be feasible and that's what I am doing now. I must admit his proposal inspired me.
A Band with a Cause
The Ginger Ninjas musical group is made up of Eco Lopez, female vocalist, bass, guitar and various other instruments; Kipchoge, leader of the band, male vocalist, bass, guitar, harmonica; Joe Chang, cello; Brock Wollard, drums and Jared May, bass. "But the band is all of us", says Kipchoge "from the ones who generate the electricity by pedaling the bikes, to those who join the "Pleasant Revolution" cause by helping in any way they can".
The group members started the trip in the San Juan Sierras of California, outside of Sacrament, pedaling their way towards this adventure, having as a goal to raise the level of awareness of their followers so that they would move to an eco-friendly lifestyle, so that they would ride their bicycles as a means of transportation instead of driving cars which, because of their excessive use of gasoline, are depleting the earth's natural resources and giving rise to problems such as the wars caused by the world's everlasting struggle to find the black gold.
Their songs, all with original lyrics, invite us to reflect on living a life more in tune with nature, on reducing our dependence on plastics, fuel, toxic materials and anything else which contributes to pollution and threatens our planet.
My son, Emiliano, is three years old. He also dances to the rhythm of "Dick Cheney". He is too small yet to understand the lyrics or the message behind the song, but it doesn't matter. The language of music is universal. The rhythm embraces all of the spectators. In my son's small face I see the reflection of the warmth and the energy generated by every turn of the pedals, by every song, by every inch of space that the sun is leaving behind for the moon. By now all of us are possessed by the music and our bodies dance with the songs and our mouths try to sing the words which, although we are hearing for the first time, already seem familiar to us. The message of peace and harmony is well received. I am totally haunted by Eco's voice and the lifestyle she has chosen invades my whole being and makes me forget everything. Forgotten are the office and the long sleeve shirts; forgotten are the contracts and the day to day struggles. The only thing real to me are the voices coming from the speakers and the energy coming from the sweat of the people who are generating it; this recyclable energy, this energy which makes an almost illogical circuit from the soles of the pedaling feet to the drumming of the listener's heart. All of this plus what the golden afternoon sun bestows upon us on this February day in Chapala represents magic for a Pleasant Revolution.
Alone with the Band
Arturo Garcia (AG): Why the name Ginger Ninjas?
Joey Chang (JC): Because Ginger means gentle; and Ninjas for what the Japanese warriors represent. So in essence, it means Gentle Warriors.
AG: Warriors of what?
JC: Of a revolution against the excessive use of fuel which is responsible for destroying this planet. We are also against the excessive use of plastics and other substances that are harmful to mankind.
(Ariel approaches and seats next to Joey. He introduces us.)
JC: This is my girlfriend, Ariel.
AG: Nice meeting you Ariel…. Why Chiapas as your final destination? Is it because of the political situation in that State?
JC: I think it is because of the pyramids. Chiapas is like the end of Mexico…
I wait until Eco finishes talking to the group of fans who, I am convinced, are now joining the ranks of her very long list of admirers. She is very gentle and approachable. I try to guess her country of origin from her accent in Spanish, but I fail. She finally tells me that she is from Uruguay and with a smile she breaks the ice. She doesn't know it but I am extremely nervous. I soon realize, however, that being close to her dissipates all my nervousness and I try to strike up a conversation instead of conducting an interview.
AG: Why Mexico?
Eco Lopez (EL): Because Kipchoge took that decision.
AG: Are there people joining the group during the trip?
EL: Yes, but there are also people who abandon the trip. In the beginning when we started we were 15, then we went down to 8 and now we are 13.
AG: And how come you decided to come to this country to do what you are doing?
AL: I love what I do. Mexico is super beautiful. The people are wonderful. The climate is…..
AG: How long have you been doing this?
EL: You mean singing? Two years.
AG: Two years?
EL: Yes, that's it. I started singing in Kauai. I opened my voice to the wind and the earth answered yes.
AG: That is very poetic.
EL: I know. My father is a poet and a musician. He is known in Uruguay as "El Pato Lopez".
AG: Are you aware that you will become famous one day?
EL: Well, I do not know about that, but really it is not what I am looking for. I am fulfilled just by sharing what I do with other people. And the best of it all is to be able to share it with children. That for me is very powerful.
AG: Does the group have a sponsor?
EL: Yes, this company called Xtracycle which manufactures our bikes…
It's already quite late and it seems that the band members are hungry. On our way to the diner, Kipchoge agrees to answer a few additional questions. We are now walking along Madero avenue. We pass in front of the church, the coffee shops and the ice cream stores. The afternoon is pleasant.
AG: I asked Joey and Eco why Mexico and not Canada? Why Chiapas as a final destination? It seemed to me that they did not have a very definite answer. They told me you were responsible for planning the trip.
Kipchoge (KC): True.
AG: Did you know that Chiapas is one of the largest states in southern of Mexico and one of the richest in natural resources, but also the one with the highest poverty rates in the nation?
KC: Yes, I knew that.
AG: Is this the reason why you chose Chiapas as the last stop in your "Pleasant Revolution" tour?
KC: In part, yes. But in reality we tried to take our message to the entire country. In the beginning our goal was to reach Belize, but then I decided that our tour would end in the southernmost state of Mexico.
AG: Why Mexico?
KC: Because Mexico has not yet made the same mistakes as the United States. But, since globalization has placed this country in our same path, it is important to inspire change…
And this ends my conversation with Kipchoge. The following day I offer him a glass of water while we are at my house recording some music that will help his cause. Kipchoge is reserved and pleasant. He tells me that PEMEX (Mexico's oil company) offered to be a sponsor but that he refused (for obvious reasons). My three year old son, Emiliano, joins us in one of the best rides of his life, seated in the back rack of our new friend's bicycle while he pedals his energy in search of a better world, a world cleaner than this one, a world where people are more empowered and less apathetic, a world that will necessarily become more harmonious. Such is this Revolution. Change by way of music, without weapons. Peaceful. Pleasant.
Band Review & Interview(Espanol)
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Ginger Ninjas: “Una Revolución Agradable” Por Arturo García Revista Literaria Meretrices 17...Ginger Ninjas: “Una Revolución Agradable”
Por Arturo García
Revista Literaria Meretrices
CHAPALA, JAL. La agrupación musical, Ginger Ninjas se encuentra de paso por la Ribera del Lago Chapala en su trayectoria hacia Chiapas, en lo que será una travesía de más de 8,000 Km. a lo largo del país y un centenar de tocadas generadas por el pedaleo de sus bicicletas; desde la Sierra de California hasta la jungla de Chiapas. Ayer, sábado, 16 de febrero, el grupo musical pacifista/activista se presentó en la Fuente de los Pescadores del Malecón, donde dio un concierto abierto al público. Sergio Unzueta, director del departamento de Cultura del Municipio de Chapala, en marco del festival “Chapala Vivo”, tuvo a bien presentar al grupo en coordinación con la dirección de Cultura del Estado.
La tarde es limpia. El malecón de Chapala luce su nuevo traje de adoquín plateado. El lago, aunque verdoso por la contaminación, está cerca. Ahora besa la playa que otrora fuera la gran terraza de la conformidad de los que hemos crecido a su lado. A lo lejos, un velero copula con sus aguas al ritmo de la música que viene de la Fuente de Pescadores. El sol cae, se esconde para dar paso a un hermoso paisaje de albores y colores ocres. Esta tarde, Chapala está más vivo que de costumbre. Hay una chispa de vida que descolla entre las palmas y los sauces que flanquean la fuente. Las tres banderas de América del Norte ondean sobre la brisa que un cello, una batería, micrófonos, bocinas y bicicletas reciben en su alma de materia. Hay paz. Hay una concurrencia des-estresada que se sienta alrededor de la banda que ahora empieza a calentar en bicicletas y en los instrumentos. Ahí estoy también yo con mis dos hijos, al frente del escenario, esperando lo que habría de ser uno de los mejores conciertos de mi vida.
Ginger Ninjas y Cello-Joe de
Se hacen llamar Ginger Ninjas, un grupo de Rock/Folkfunk/experimental/et al. Yo sé muy poco de música pero esto no importa, lo que importa es que no hay nada que me distraiga al estar escuchando a Cello-Joe tocar y cantar un solo; música para disfrutar y para reflexionar. Cello Joe es un joven muy cool y muy talentoso, egresado de la escuela de música de la Universidad de Berkley, Joey pisa el suelo con huaraches, viste casual y en la cabeza, trae puesto, como gorro, la cabeza de una piñata en forma de Eeyore, el famoso burro de Disney. Su mensaje cautiva. En un español muy simpático, acompañado de los sonidos que genera con su instrumento, nos mete en un ambiente totalmente creativo y recreativo donde el mensaje es “deshacerse de los carros/andar en bicicleta/cuidar el medio ambiente”. La multitud se emociona al comparar de manera favorable a México con Estados Unidos y llamando a la conciencia de la gente; de no caer en los mismos errores del país vecino del norte, donde los engranes de la movilidad giran a base de gasolina.
Eco: Voz seductora que hace fama a su nombre.
Eco López es el alma de la banda. Su voz seduce, evoca la suavidad y el sentido sensual del alma; una mezcal entre Gustafson, O’Riordan y Torroja. Altos, bajos, susurros en el micrófono; su voz hace que me estremezca encerrado en el claustro de mi perplejidad al escuchar entonar la letra de “Total Believer”, haciendo un dueto perfecto y armónico con Kipchoge. Kiss me if you like/Kiss me if you like. La palabra convertida en un mágico espiral de evocaciones a los ángeles o a las deidades de Cantar de Cantares es escuchada. Eco es uruguaya, tiene dos años que se unió a la banda y, montada en “La Calabaza” como ella llama a su bicicleta, una Xtracycle Sport Utility Bike (SUB), la cual tiene una especie de carlinga en la parte de atrás con capacidad para cargar hasta cincuenta kilogramos de peso, Eco viaja en compañía de su copiloto, Cosa 1, el muñeco de la serie del Dr. Seuss. “Él es mi inspiración. Thing 1 va conmigo a todos lados, él es quien me da valor cuando voy montando. Míralo, que sucio está el pobre, ¡pero qué feliz!”
Kipchoge: Un Ideal en Bicicleta Detrás de una “Revolución Placentera”
Kipchoge es el líder de la banda de bicicleteros/rockeros/activistas; su hit “Dick Cheney” lo distingue como un rockero hambriento de cambio, profesa el amor como un estilo de vida, el ambientalismo eco-amigable es una de sus banderas. Pero Kipchoge es más que eso. Él es un idealista. Un revolucionario pacifista; un revolucionario que utiliza la música como arma de ataque y como armadura de defensa. No es tarea fácil vender la idea de dejar todo para irse a viajar por todo un país en bicicleta, concientizando mentes mientras se vive de las tocadas. Sin embargo, la idea se convirtió en ideal y nació entonces el tour ciclista que va dejando huella por cada lugar que pasa. Kipchoge habla con seriedad de su empresa y en un español bien claro me dice, “debes utilizar más tu bicicleta, puedes empezar por hacerlo de tu oficina a tu casa”. Yo pienso que eso es posible y lo hago. He de admitir que me inspiró su propuesta.
Una Banda Con Causa
El grupo musical, los Ginger Ninjas, está formado por Eco López, voz femenil, bajo, guitarra, instrumentos varios; Kipchoge, líder de la banda, voz masculina, bajo, guitarra, armónica; Joe Chang, cello; Brock Wollard en la batería y en el bajo a Jared May. “Pero el grupo somos todos.”, dice Kipchoge, “desde los que generan la electricidad por medio de pedalear en las bicicletas, hasta los que se unen a la causa de “
”, ayudando con lo que pueden.
La banda partió de la sierra de San Juan, California, en las afueras de Sacramento, pedaleando su ruta hacia la aventura, con el afán de concienciar a sus seguidores a ser eco-amigables; a usar la bicicleta como método de transporte alternativo en vez de los coches que por su excesivo uso de gasolina, agotan los recursos naturales, problema que tiene al mundo en guerra, en la eterna lucha por el oro negro.
Las canciones, escritas por ellos mismos, invitan ala reflexión; a vivir una vida más a conciencia con la naturaleza. El uso reducido de plásticos, gasolina, materiales tóxicos y en general de cualquier cosa que contribuya a la contaminación y a la amenaza de nuestro planeta.
Emiliano tiene tres años. Él también se mueve el ritmo de la canción “Dick Cheney”. Es muy pequeño para entender la letra o el mensaje que lleva consigo pero esto no tiene nada que ver. El lenguaje de la música es universal. El ritmo se expande entre los presentes. En su carita se refleja el calor y la energía que se genera en cada pedaleada, en cada canción, en cada paso que le cede el sol a la luna. Ahora estamos todos contagiados y nos movemos y balbuceamos las canciones que, auque las escuchamos por primera vez, parecieran familiares. El mensaje de armonía y de paz es bien recibido. Yo estoy totalmente hechizado por la voz de Eco y el trance de vida en el que se encuentra me invade y me olvido de todo. Atrás ha quedado la oficina y las camisas largas; han quedado atrás también los contratos y las preocupaciones cotidianas. Sólo queda lo que emana de las bocinas: energía hecha por el sudor de quienes la generan; energía reciclable, energía que hace un recorrido casi ilógico: de la planta de los pies, al tamborileo del corazón. Eso y lo que el oro de la tarde de un día de febrero en Chapala nos regala: magia para una Revolución Agradable.
A Solas con La Banda.
Arturo García (AG): ¿Por qué el nombre “Ginger Ninjas”?
Joey Chang (JC): Porque Ginger significa jengibre, y esto, en inglés es como gentil; lo de Ninjas es por lo que representan los guerreros japoneses. Entonces significa como Guerreros Gentiles.
AG: ¿Guerreros de qué?
JC: De una revolución en contra del uso excesivo de combustible, que es lo que está destruyendo el planeta. Estamos en contra del uso excesivo de plásticos, de materiales que son nocivos para el hombre.
(Ariel se acerca y se sienta a un lado de Joey. Nos presenta)
JC: Ella es mi novia, Ariel.
AG: Mucho gusto, Ariel… ¿Por qué Chiapas como destino? ¿Es a caso por la situación política del estado?
JC: Creo que por las pirámides. Chiapas es como el final de México…
Espero a que Eco termine de platicar con la bandada de fans que acaba de unirse a su (estoy seguro) larga lista. Ella es muy amable y alcanzable. Trato de adivinar su país de origen por el acento pero fallo. Me dice finalmente que es uruguaya y con una sonrisa rompe el hielo. Ella no lo sabe pero yo estoy muy nervioso. Empero, descubro que estar cerca de ella disipa todo mi nerviosismo y comienzo a formular lo que pretendo sea una plática y no una entrevista.
AG: ¿Por qué México?
Eco López (EL): Porque Kipchoge tomó esa decisión.
AG: ¿Hay gente que se une al grupo en el trayecto?
EL: Sí. También hay gente que deserta. Cuando salimos éramos 15, después la cifra bajó a 8 y ahora somos 13.
AG: ¿Y, cómo fue que te convenciste de venir a este país a hacer lo que estás haciendo?
EL: Amo lo que hago. México es bellísimo. La gente es muy linda. El clima…
AG: ¿Cuánto tiempo tienes haciendo esto?
EL: ¿Cantando? Dos años.
AG: ¿¡Dos años!?
EL: Así es. Yo comencé a cantar en Kauai. Solté mi voz al viento y la tierra me dijo sí.
AG: Eso es muy poético.
EL: Lo sé. Mi papá es poeta y es músico. Le conocen en Uruguay como “El Pato López”.
AG: ¿Sabes que vas a ser muy famosa un día?
EL: Bueno, eso no lo sé, pero en realidad no es lo que persigo. Me llena estar compartiendo lo que hago con la gente. Lo más bonito es conectar con los niños. Para mí es algo muy fuerte.
AG: ¿Hay alguien que los patrocine como grupo?
EL: Sí, hay una compañía que se llama Xtracycle, la de las bicicletas…
Ya es tarde y parece que la banda tiene hambre. En el trayecto a la cenaduría, Kipchoge me concede algunas preguntas. Ahora vamos caminando por la avenida Madero. Pasamos la iglesia, las cantinas, las tiendas de nieve. La noche es cómoda.
AG: Le pregunté a Eco y a Joey que por qué México y no Canadá; por qué Chiapas como destino, pero parece que no tienen eso muy bien definido. Me dicen que tú planeaste el viaje.
Kipchogi (KC): Así es.
AG: ¿Sabes que Chiapas es uno de los estados más grandes del sur de México, uno de los más ricos en recursos naturales pero uno con los índices de pobreza más altos?
KC: Sí, sí sé eso.
AG: ¿Es esta la razón por la que escogiste éste como la última parada en la gira de la “Revolución Agradable”?
KC: En parte sí. Pero en realidad, intentamos llevar el mensaje por todo el país. En un principio, nuestra meta iba a ser Belice pero decidí que debíamos terminar en el último estado del sur de este país.
AG: ¿Y por qué México?
KC: Porque México aún no comete los errores de Estados Unidos. Porque la globalización lo tiene destinado hacia el mismo rumbo, por eso hay que fomentar el cambio…
Termino por conectarme con Kipchoge. Al siguiente día, le invito un vaso de agua fresca en mi casa mientras hacemos algunas grabaciones que habrán de ayudar a la causa. Platicamos de varias cosas. Kipchoge es reservado y amable. Me comenta que PEMEX les ofreció patrocinio pero que no lo aceptaron (por razones obvias). Emiliano, mi hijo de tres años, nos acompaña en uno de los mejores paseos de su vida, detrás de la bicicleta de nuestro amigo, quien pedalea su energía hacia un mundo mejor, uno más limpio que este, un mundo donde la gente es más consciente y menos apática. Un mundo pues que habrá de ser más armónico. Por eso la Revolución, el cambio, por medio de la música, sin armas. Pacifista. Placentera.
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"I like very much the idiosyncratic approach to self expression, and the raw sincerity of it. And t..."I like very much the idiosyncratic approach to self expression, and the raw sincerity of it. And the humor. And the commitment to some positivist future, at least implied, though vaguely stated. A beautiful piece of work. "
Top 5 Albums of 2003
For the album "Where the Rubber Meets the Road"
“Joys of sounds through eustachian tubes Cochlea shaking with pleasure That was one good show”
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“I just wanted to drop you all a note of thanks for playing at the Berkeley Critical Mass 10th Anniv...“I just wanted to drop you all a note of thanks for playing at the Berkeley Critical Mass 10th Anniversary Party that I hosted. You guys were fantastic!! Many many people have looked me up in the last few days and told me how great they thought the music was.”
New Album Love
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I got your album and it is sooooooo good! I was listening in my car and i did not want to get out wh...I got your album and it is sooooooo good! I was listening in my car and i did not want to get out when I arrived home -- I had to keep listening -- My favorites are Vitamen L and also the poem -- how much do i care about peace --- There is a new radio station in truckee that plays cool music and between 11:30 and 1:30 They are going to play both of these songs -- i brought it into them! They loved it!
The Ninjas can play as long as you want us to. Generally we play 1-2 hour sets.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.