I really can’t stress how much I support what John’s doing (as you can probably tell by all the posts). He’s taking his passion for motorcycling and music and doing something to really help people. Having lost someone close to me who was a registered organ donor, this cause hits close to my heart. Please, chip in to sponsor the tour, donate to the aid organizations, see one of the shows … and check that box on your driver’s license.
John’s tour kicks off on Tuesday, September 16th in St. Louis at Cicero’s St. Louis. A full listing of the shows is on the New Hearts MC website.
WorldOf2: Storage space is a precious resource on a motorbike, I know a lot of people that have trouble just packing clothes for a few days, you’re going much longer than that plus taking all of the things needed to perform. I assume you’ll have merch and your guitar any other music gear? How are you squeezing all this on to your bike?
John Velghe: I’ve done a few two-up camping trips of 10 days each. On those trips it was two people, our camping gear (including sleeping bags and tent for autumn in Colorado, stove, etc.), coffee, food, tools, and clothes. I’ve gotten pretty good at prioritizing what’s crucial and what can stay behind.
On this trip I’m not taking camping gear and won’t be bracing for cold nights at altitude. So this will be a little luxurious by comparison. I have a set of Mica Tech Pilot Cases, which are cavernous. I have a pretty big “top bag” that I mount on the back too.
I’m carrying my clothes and music gear and bike tools with me. A couple rolls of quarters take up a lot less space than clothes, so I’ll be doing laundry along the way. For gear, it’s pared down to an acoustic guitar, an Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina Microphone, a couple cables, a capo, and a tuner.
Wo2: Weather happens, how are you making sure things stay dry?
JV: The MicaTech cases and the top bag are water tight. For the guitar I have a sealed fiberglass case and I picked up a Jack’s Plastic Welding PVC bag that is build to put a guitar in for white water rafting. For me I have a rain suit.
Wo2: Do you have a contingency plan if you run out of merch mid-tour? Are you sending some in advance to the venues or will you rely on overnight shipping?
JV: HA! This tour was the reason I made the “design decision” to go with Digipak CDs instead of (breakable) jewel cases. My plan up until last week was to ship CDs and t-shrits to specific places in advance. My daughter lives in Philly, and good friends live in NYC, Durham and Nashville. I was going to set up shipping to those milestones and then ship back what wasn’t needed. However, a kind soul has made it possible to have Juj and Picco follow along in a car and carry merch. They’re going small too, and Picco required ample space to sleep, so I still have to carry my gear on the bike. But we’re saving the cost and wear and tear of shipping back and forth.
Wo2: Have you hooked up with any other riders that will join you for any of the riding? If not, are is that something you’d be interested in?
JV: I would LOVE to have some riders share a stretch. The whole point of this tour is about humanity connected with one another. That’s sort of what organ donation is, isn’t it? One human connecting with another at a cellular level. So the more people I can have ride along the closer it comes to the essence of the tour. If anyone wants to ride along for a segment they can contact me at my website johnvelghe.com and we’ll coordinate.
Wo2: I love the positive spin you’re putting on the “donor cycle” stereotype. Why did you choose transplant recipients and donors as the benefactors of the tour?
JV: I have a couple friends who’ve been affected by organ donation. One very good friend was never able to get an organ transplant. We all hoped it would happen and he’d be able to move forward in his second chance. Unfortunately he passed away a couple years ago before it could happen. Another friend is in consideration for the UNOS transplant list. And there are member’s of my community whose experiences with organ donation clarified beauty of the process.
Those are the things that lie at the heart of album’s title, Organ Donor Blues. Then there’s the idea that they call motorcyclists “organ donors.” Which in the one hand I say is just contemptuous bullshit and in the other hand I say “So what? Aren’t there worse legacies?” You know, not all organ donors are dead people. There are plenty of people who’ve donated their organs and live to see the beauty of watching someone have a second chance. It’s a beautiful gift, and you don’t have to die to give it.
And anyone who gives of themselves is, in my estimation, an organ donor.
So the title of the album, my friends, and a deep and abiding internal sense of “kiss my ass” made me realize this is something worth doing. If it can help the cause of organ donation and organ transplant recipients specifically, or even just spread the word of the idea of doing something for reasons outside yourself, giving of yourself, then that’s all I really want to come of it.