Mobile pop-up party A Trike Called Funk aims to bridge divides through music
Whatever Edward “Ed Word” Galan and Aaron “A.a.Ron” Myers put their minds to, they try to keep it funky. The two friends share a love of music, dance and activism, and have embarked on a creative venture that marries their talents and skills. A Trike Called Funk, launched in July 2021, is a mobile pop-up party on wheels that aims to bridge divides through music and “unleash creativity, create connections and build community.” The trike has been at events all over the city including Mayor Michelle Wu’s Neighborhood Coffee Hours. Soon, the duo will appear at Boston Art & Music Soul Festival (BAMS Fest) and at The Rose Kennedy Greenway’s Breathe Life Together Block Party in celebration of artist Rob "ProBlak" Gibbs' new mural in Dewey Square later this month.
Upon meeting the two creatives, it's easy to see how the two ended up collaborating. They complement one another. Galan, the resident DJ, has a more reserved demeanor (at least until the music starts) and meshes with Myers’ expansive, crackling personality. Myers, who leads sales, operations and social media, is usually the one engaging the crowd at gigs.
The idea for the trike was born after a dance group the two met in — the BeanTown Lockers — received a grant from the Boston Foundation for a series of “Funky Friday” performances between 2020-2021.
The series featured a rotating set of dance crews specializing in different dance forms such as salsa and samba or popping and house, Myers says. Each month, the dancers found another outdoor public place and put together an impromptu show that was livestreamed.
However, the pandemic hampered some of their plans and pushed the group to rethink. During that time of uncertainty, when it wasn't safe to gather and businesses started to close, Galan and Myers had a bit of an epiphany.
The two realized that "any place can be our stage," Myers says. "One of our shows was at a Vietnamese corner store in the parking lot where they moved their minivans so we could perform in the heart of Fields Corner. We thought, 'man, we want to continue to pop up and get down like this, even beyond the life of the grant.'"
And they have.
The Boston Foundation allowed Myers and Galan to invest surplus funds — leftover from their inability to bring dancers from the west coast to Boston for BeanTown Lockers’ performances due to COVID — into their idea for A Trike Called Funk. So, Myers bought their signature trike from a guy in New Hampshire who listed it on Facebook Marketplace, and Galan purchased a Rane One DJ controller and case. The grant funding covered additional equipment such as a wireless mic, speakers, a portable battery and outfitting the bike.
"The fabrication of the bike, getting it painted and adding the grill and the hood were next," Galan says.
Their bike was fabricated by a company called Monk in Mexico. The trike transformed from its original yellow, with a small blue and white umbrella to a sleeker design with black and white zebra stripes reminiscent of a psychedelic spinning wheel.
Since then, A Trike Called Funk has won numerous grants, including funds from the Save the Harbor/Save the Bay's Better Beaches Program two years in a row, the Boston Main Street Foundation Impact & Innovation grant and an Opportunity Grant from the city. The most recent award will support four free community arts experiences in July with the theme of "Take it to the Paint" in Mattapan, Dorchester, East Boston and Hyde Park. Local collaborating graffiti artists will be at each event with A Trike Called Funk, which will provide the music and a portable black-and-white checkered dancefloor and good vibes. That’s just one of eight series the duo is hosting throughout the summer and fall.
This spirit of collaboration, inclusivity and representation is a throughline in their work. When Galan and Myers first applied for funding from the Better Beaches program, Maya Smith, partnerships and program development director for Save the Harbor/ Save the Bay, remembers how intentional their application was.
"They went out of their way to say, 'hey, not only are we going to bring music to all these different communities, we're actually going to reach out to DJs that are from those communities. And not only are we just reaching out to DJs from those communities, we're reaching out to DJs of color that represent the predominant ethnicities that live in these communities,'" Smith says. As a woman of color, Smith is aware of the disconnect when it comes to the barriers some face when it comes to frequenting public blue and green spaces, so the pair's thoughtful application, she says, "was a green flag for me."
Smith says Galan and Myers have been great partners ever since, showing up to fundraisers and being a consistent presence. A Trike Called Funk reapplied to this year's program and won a $7,500 grant for their "Bike to the Beach and Boogie" series launching this summer.
Though this duo's creation might seem like an overnight success, the roots that ground the idea and its founders — who bring nonprofit and health and wellness work, dance experience and music knowledge together — started long ago.
Galan spent his early years in the Dominican Republic and remembers hearing a constant stream of music from Bob Marley to music of the DR, like bachata and merengue, and tunes from Puerto Rico and Cuba. Galan says the most important things his grandfather owned were his speakers, his sound system. So, he says, the fidelity of sound was instilled in him early. Music also played a crucial role in Myers' life, who grew up listening to Motown hits and Stax label recording artists. Over the years, on their separate paths, they have explored different music and dance genres and Myers, who also took up Capoeira Angola, spent some time abroad in Brazil.
They each have a healthy respect and admiration for other cultures' music and artistic expression and work to center the artists they admire. To get A Trike Called Funk off the ground, Myers says they had to "get the support of a board of advisors and get tied into a community of people that know what they're doing and can point us in the right direction."
In 2021, Galan and Myers completed business incubator and accelerator programs through the Roxbury Innovation Center and EforAll Roxbury. Myers says the programs equipped them “with the know-how and support to successfully start up our creative venture as an LLC.”
Both Galan and Myers credit the support of their network — including the Somerville Bike Kitchen and Artisans’ Asylum, to name a few — and the love from the community that helped them realize A Trike Called Funk.
Now, they are looking toward the future, eager to grow their business. They have a second trike in the works and are gearing up for their BAMS Fest event among others, where they can get audiences together in a groove.
"You can see people's spirit's when they move," Myers says. "All of a sudden, it's a different language."
A Trike Called Funk will appear at BAMS Fest on June 11 and at The Rose Kennedy Greenway’s Breathe Life Together Block Party on June 25, celebrating Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs’ new work in Dewey Square.