By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 06, 2007 at 5:12 AM

While Bono can put his money where his mouth is (and his mouth is in a lot of places!), a musician earning a more modest wage can also make a difference in the world. Witness Milwaukee's Peter Mulvey, who on Sept. 12 kicks off a 10-day tour of the southern part of the state, on his bicycle.

"I'm doing this because it'll be fun to do my job for a week and a half without burning gas," says Mulvey, who is accustomed to racking up close to 70,000 miles a year traveling between gigs by car. "Also, when you bike 75 miles to someplace, hauling all your stuff, you actually feel a great sense of accomplishment -- 'Hooray!  I didn't die!' -- as opposed to having sat passively in a car for an hour and a half."

The first two of the nine gigs is at Fort Atkinson's Cafe Carpe, long a Mulvey haunt. It's a fitting start to the singer/songwriter's pedal pushing tour.

"I've thought a hundred times 'gee, I could bike there' and that simple idea has (clearly) gotten way out of hand," laughs Mulvey.

After two nights in the Fort, Mulvey rides northwest to Madison, over to Green Lake and then Elkhart before taking a day to get up to Oshkosh. From there he plays Sheboygan, the Cedarburg Cultural Center and closes out on Sept. 22 at The Miramar here in Milwaukee.

"I don't plan on being tired at the gigs," says Mulvey. "I've ridden about 2,600 miles to train for this, and have already done fully loaded rides that are longer than any of the rides on the tour.  I don't want to ever have to say to an audience 'sorry, but I'm shot.'

"Funnily enough, though, biking depletes one set of batteries but seems to charge another. Onstage after long, tough days of exertion -- I've already biked 60 plus miles to gigs in Michigan and Madison -- I tend to feel calm and bright and focussed.  Who knew?"

For the tour, Mulvey is partnering with the Urban Ecology Center in Riverside Park, and which recently opened a satellite location at Washington Park. One dollar for every ticket sold on the tour is destined for the organization. 

"They are a kickass organization," enthuses Mulvey, "they get great things done, they're fun people and I'm thrilled to be donating a buck from each ticket to them. Also, there's going to be a ride from the UEC up to my show at Cedarburg at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21.

With the late summer/early autumn rains coming, is Mulvey worried that mother nature herself might put a damper on the tour?
"I have drybags for all my stuff," he says, "but I went to REI last night to check out what to do about my guitar.  To his credit, the canoeing guy showed me a few things and finally said, 'You know, what you really need is a heavy-duty garbage bag. It's lighter and bigger and cheaper than what we sell.'  Good man.


"I rode 40 miles in a steady light rain (recently). I figure when it's showtime, I can't back out, so I'd better find out if any serious problems arise over a long ride in the rain.  None so far.  We'll see..."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.