In 2007, the Ginger Ninjas emerged on their bicycles from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and kicked off the Pleasant Revolution; originally an experiment in low-impact touring. Guided by lead singer/songwriter/activist Kipchoge Spencer, they rode 5000 miles on an epic adventure from Northern California to Southern Mexico.
While touring, the band carries with them not only necessary personal belongings, but also all of the musical equipment they need to perform. Their load includes a full drum kit and two 500-watt speakers. The Ninjas transcend the need for electricity as well since the bicycles they ride are outfitted with generators and other lightweight components, set up on stage during performances and pedaled by audience members to power a super efficient sound system. Their mobile human-power stage comes from the Northern Cali skunkworks of the Pleasant Revolution and Rock the Bike. The system they carry allows a band to play off-grid anywhere, wall outlet or no. This enables a new kind of completely self-sufficient bicycle touring, sans automobile support. On the band’s tour to Mexico, 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 pedal power and bicycles are cool and all but who cares unless the music rocks, too, and the Ginger Ninjas see to mixing a mix that does just that, lifting listeners and revelers into bliss with a concoction they call “mind shaking love groove folk funk roots rock explosive international pedal powered mountain music for a pleasant revolution”.
The flavorful melody lines of lead guitarist Cory Cooper, latin/ska/jazz/rock beats of drummer Terry Miller (Paris Escovedo Project), and the that’s-some-crazy-shit-you’d-see-on-YouTube talents of jazz-trained funk-influenced soul-inspired bassist Jared May (Aerial Tribe) all work to strengthen an eclectic compilation of original award-winning songs written in Spanish and English by Kipchoge. The band journeys creatively through genres offering a memorable range of songs from meditative rock ballads to high-energy funky dance. Kipchoge stirs audiences with his powerful voice and lyrics that often pair subversive political messages with whimsical humor and heartfelt humanism. Dubbed Gil Scott Heron’s heir apparent after reading his spoken word piece, How Much, at San Francisco’s largest peace rally, Kipchoge challenged 100,000 demonstrators to ask themselves, “Do I care enough about peace to ride my bike to work?” “Our mission”, says Kipchoge, “is to weave strangely beautiful music with a subversively simple, out-of-bounds lifestyle, leaving audiences looking for a towel while wondering where the hell we’re going and whether they can come too.”