Ben Weaver has been playing music for a long time. In 2014, he released I Would Rather Be a Buffalo, and when that album got its digital release in July, he took a new approach to touring.
Weaver saddled up his bike for a solo ride around Lake Superior, playing in parks, libraries, galleries, bars, and more along the 1,400-mile route. He completed the 13-stop trip in 15 days, averaging 100 miles a day and spread his music and a message about the importance of clean water.
On Oct. 3, Weaver will recap that trip with a special night at the Cedar Cultural Center. It will be a music-focused event, but also tie in storytelling and poetic elements. Mostly, Weaver wants the evening to be a discussion.
This bike ride wasn’t Weaver’s first time exploring the travelling songman idea. In 2014 he rode to New Orleans on a 25-day tour. This time, however, the trip was booked in collaboration with several non-profits and carried a different vibe.
“It’s pretty satisfying and exciting to do something that is so untraditional but seems to be connecting so well,” Weaver says, adding that he learned people like to talk about their world and tend to be open to change. “Oftentimes there needs to be a push or a unifying force,”
His tour was a step in that direction. So how did the troubadour do it?
Over the course of 13 shows, he plugged into an amplifier just once, a new accomplishment for the veteran musician. Mostly, the trip focused on learning about the Great Lakes and how different communities view one of their most important natural resources.
“In the beginning I just planned a bike trip with music, hoping to learn more about the lake and the communities around it,” he says of his plan. “I had set out to inspire a few people, but I never anticipated people to be as hungry for the conversations as they turned out to be.”
That interest is pushing Weaver further, as he recently scheduled a short bike tour in the Pacific Northwest to share what he learned. In the future, he hopes to explore new ways to combine his love of music, cycling, and community to bring people together for positive change.
Saturday’s show will feature a full lineup, a discussion panel segment with Lucas Winzenburg of Bunyan Velo magazine, bike valet from Angry Catfish, charcuterie samples from Red Table, and more. Ticket purchase includes a free Banjo Brothers phone wallet.
Ben Weaver: Surrounding Water Welcome Home Show
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 3.
Where: Cedar Cultural Center.
Tickets: $12-$15; more info here.