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applause, please

Musician Rich Aucoin was forced to rebuild his latest EP from memory after his computer was stolen in Costa Rica. ‘It taught me a lesson on backing things up,’ he says.Scott Munn

With the series Applause, Please, The Globe and Mail recognizes the efforts of dedicated citizens and those behind the scenes who make a difference in arts and cultural programs and institutions.

Rich Aucoin doesn't know from tour buses, even if one were to run right over him. Which, in his case, is a distinct possibility. Because Aucoin, the Halifax dance-rock auteur and decided free spirit, has been known to tour by bicycle, sharing the road with automobiles and bigger things.

"It's a very immersive way of touring," says Aucoin, calling from Montreal. "It's a pace that makes me very aware of the places I'm in and the geography of the towns and cities I visit."

The musician did Canada by bike previously, raising cash for leukemia research. He's also toured the country by incorporating his running of half-marathons in each city, donating money to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

For his next jaunt, he'll tackle the United States for the first time by bike, with proceeds going to Mental Health America and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

"I've been planning this since December," says Aucoin, the younger brother of Paul Aucoin of the Hylozoists. "I wanted to do it after my last record [2014's Ephemeral], but my American booking agent felt overwhelmed by the idea."

Aucoin's sweat-soaked shows are near legendary events of mosh-pit euphoria, surfboard situations and dancing underneath a multicoloured parachute. He was not like the other kids at school; his first EP, Personal Publication, syncs up with the 1966 animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

His latest effort is the EP Hold (out March 16) – and it was very much an effort, indeed. On a surf trip to Costa Rica in 2016, Aucoin's computer was stolen, resulting in the loss of the music that was to form a new album.

"It taught me a lesson on backing things up," says Aucoin, laughing now but not then. "Immediately there is a fear you're not going to be able to achieve what you achieved in the first translation of the emotions you were trying to write about and the thing your were trying to craft."

Aucoin was able to patch together some of the "eight-second ideas" of sound, chord progressions and bass lines from memory.

"It's frustrating, remaking something," Aucoin says. "You don't want to lose that mysterious or mystical part of the process."

At the moment, Aucoin readies himself for the 15-city crowd-funded tour that begins in Hollywood on March 26 and ends at the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art three months later.

The gig he's most looking forward to is the stop at Burt's Tiki Lounge in Albuquerque, N.M. "I love tiki lounges," Aucoin says. "My whole kitchen is surrounded in tropical plants. I haven't put up the tiki grass yet."

More to come, then. The party never ends with this guy, a two-wheel enthusiast but with extra gears and a unicyclist's excellent joie de vivre.

Rich Aucoin plays Halifax's Seahorse Tavern on March 15.

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