Music fans groove on pedal power 

click to enlarge The LiveOnBike parade is part of the seventh Bicycle Music Festival, which begins at noon Saturday in Golden Gate Park and ends in the Mission district.
  • The LiveOnBike parade is part of the seventh Bicycle Music Festival, which begins at noon Saturday in Golden Gate Park and ends in the Mission district.

Golden Gate Park hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, but only one is pedal-powered.

At noon Saturday, about 25 volunteer cyclists will power up a 14,000-watt system — the world's largest human-powered sound system — in Pioneer Log Cabin Meadow for the seventh annual Bicycle Music Festival.

This year's performers include Grammy Award-winning bluegrass artist Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, Justin Ancheta Band, Manicato, John Craigie, Heather Normandale and more.

The free, all-ages festival moves away from the park at 5 p.m., when former "X Factor" contestant and cabaret singer Jason Brock appears on a bicycle-drawn stage in the LiveOnBike parade, which rolls to the Mission district, where a block party follows.

"We did a practice run with the mobile stage with Jason, and people were running to the windows," says festival co-founder Gabe Dominguez. "He was doing call and response, singing 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody,' and people were hanging out of their windows, singing into his microphone. This year's LiveOnBike ride is going to be the best one the world has ever witnessed."

Another highlight is environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who will speak to the Golden Gate Park audience at 3:45 p.m. via a Skype call from Istanbul, Turkey.

The biped-powered festival — which promotes bicycle-riding artists and sustainable living —began when Dominguez, who fronts the band Shake Your Peace, wanted to do a bicycle tour of Utah.

He teamed with Paul Freedman of Berkeley's Rock Your Bike, which makes bike-powered gadgets, to fix up a portable bike-powered sound system.

Their efforts resulted in an all-day music event, the first of its kind in the world.

"When we started, it was one speaker and one bike," Dominguez says. "We picked it up and moved it, guerrilla-style. We did it again the following year and it kept growing. Now we're a nonprofit, we have the permits and it's quite official these days."

The festival, which operates on less than $10,000, still needs funding to pay for city permits required for escort services and the block party. A Kickstarter campaign is accepting donations until 2:59 a.m. Saturday morning.

BMF has been replicated across North America, from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Mexico City and Los Angeles, and in numerous European cities.

The San Francisco edition remains the largest.

"It's a really great festival to bring a picnic to. Like at Hardly Strictly, last year the people who brought picnics were the coolest people there. It's also really important to remember to bring a bike, so you don't miss out on the ride," says Freedman.

IF YOU GOBicycle Music Festival

When: Noon in Golden Gate Park; 6 p.m. Mission block party

Where: Begins at Pioneer Log Cabin Meadow, Stow Lake Drive at John F. Kennedy Drive, Golden Gate Park; ends at 22nd and Bartlett streets

Tickets: Free

Contact: bicyclemusicfestival.com, rockthebike.com

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Lauren Gallagher

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Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015

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