Bikeastra LIVE at The Velvet Door 4/1/64
A flyer from the "notorious" April 1, 1964 Bikeastra show at The Velvet Door.
In the history of Tucson music there have been many bands whose meteoric rise to fame consumes them in flame long before they gain trajectory and they are left to sizzle and sputter like a marshmallow hanging from the end of a wooden stick over a campfire cookout.
And no band has been more emblematic of that gooey metaphor than Bikeastra.
For nearly four decades local historians and music scholars have wrestled with the facts surrounding the founding of this enigmatic group that is now legendary among those who lust for bike-born sound.
Along the way there were many whispers and rumors among collectors of a Bikeastra Holy Grail --- a storage locker full of material from the band's earliest days.
Now, after years of speculation the Holy Grail has been found.
"We long heard talk about this stuff being out there. But we all figured it was a myth like Stonehenge or King Tut. Then last week we were cleaning out the office and I saw this box labeled bikeastra," said Bike-A-Stra manager Miss Ann Thrope. "When I opened it up and saw all this stuff --- tapes, flyers, stickers, a couple of bottle caps --- I was like, 'Huh. How about that.' I mean really, what more could I say?"
Over the coming months and perhaps years, Bike-A-Stra lead members Steev Hise and Glenn Weyant will sort through the material and make available selected recordings beginning with this early acetate recording labeled 4/1/1964 - Velvet Door - Dusty and Chayn.
Live at The Velvet Door, was recorded at the now "notorious" April Fool's Day Show (commonly known as The Tan Acid Show), and is the earliest known performance by Bikeastra.
While the sound quality is relatively poor by today's standards, it is remarkably crisp considering it was first recorded live onto a roll of Scotch tape before being mastered onto a roll of duct tape and then being transferred to acetate after which it was placed in a box where it sat for 40 years before being discovered and transferred directly to MP3.
The two tracks feature original Bikeastra members Dusty Sprocket (electric guitar, whistle and heavy things dropped) and Chayn D'Railor (viola, voice and squeaky chair).
One of the most interesting aspects of this recording to both scholars, fans and collectors is the discovery that neither members of Bikeastra actually play their bikes or instruments built from bikes.
"It is strange isn't it," Thrope added. "I'm not even sure they knew what a bike was."
In 1978 Sprocket was killed in a tragic pitchfork accident while on a week long retreat at a popular local health spa. Sadly, D'Railor died three months later in a similar accident.
Despite the passing of Sprocket and D'Railor, the Bikeastra legend lives on to this day with a rotating cast of performers.
During the hyphening craze of the early 1980's Bikeastra formally changed it's name to The Bike-A-Stra Starship then Tucson Bike-A-Stra and then once again to The Bike-A-Stra Experience.
Today Bike-A-Stra is simply known as Bike-A-Stra with Steev Hise and Glenn Weyant carrying forward the band's musical and archival legacy, delighting fans by performing many of Bike-A-Stra's greatest hits live on traditional instruments, instruments built from bikes and video projections.
"Eventually we'd like to ride bikes made from instruments. Can you imagine how cool that would be? But right now we have our hands full with sorting through all this material," said Weyant.
Hise concurred noting: "Anything else? Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and check on my hops."