Highlights

  • Newport: energy efficient music festival
  • Solar panels, bicycles suffice energy needs
  • Iced tea, front row seats in return for pedalling

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Music festival stage powered by bicycles; this is how it works

The pedaling generates electricity, which is fed through through wires to an electrical box on the stage.

The Newport Folk Festival, known for creating electrifying musical moments - the most famous being Bob Dylan's decision to plug in his guitar in 1965 - this weekend has a small outer stage that is being powered in part by festival-goers on stationary bicycles.

The Bike Stage is the brainchild of the band Illiterate Light, an environmentally conscious indie rock duo from Virginia, who have partnered with a company called Rock the Bike to create a pedal-powered sound system, which they have been using at small club shows.

Frontman Jeff Gorman said Newport's "Bike Stage" is the first time the system has been tried at a festival.About a dozen artists are scheduled to perform mostly acoustic sets on the stage.

Just under 2,000 of the festival's 10,000 fans ride bicycles to Newport each year and Gorman said when he saw that sea of bikes during the band's appearance in Newport in 2019, he and partner Jake Cochran approached festival director Jay Sweet about setting up the stage.

The stage is equipped with solar panels that will provide most of the power to the amps and other equipment, with the bikes providing the rest.

When the show begins, fans jump onto six collapsible bicycles adjacent to the stage.

The pedaling generates electricity, which is fed through through wires to an electrical box on the stage.

Fans take turns pedaling for about five minutes during the 20-minute sets and in exchange geta free iced tea and a front-row view of the performance.

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Sarah Gaines, 44 of Wakefield, Rhode Island, pedaled for one song during a Friday set by singer Madi Diaz.

"I love riding bikes, we rode our bikes here today," she said. "I also feel like it's time for us to be more proactive and come up with some (energy) solutions that aren't reliant on traditional energy sources, so I was really excited they were doing this."

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