Bikey band rocks for Ghana benefit

Bikey band Gatas en Zapatas—Spanish for “cats in shoes”—is playing this Saturday night at Mississippi Pizza Pub as part of a benefit event for the Village Bicycle Project’s Ghana Women’s Bicycle Initiative.

The bikes that will be shipped to Ghana have already been loaded onto a shipping container and are ready to go. The only things missing are the funds to send them; that’s where the benefit show comes in.

The night will feature Ghanaian drummer Chata Addy, a short video about the Women’s Bicycle Initiative, a silent auction. Gatas en Zapatas, as Shawna puts it, are “the dessert at the end of the night.”

[Gatas en Zapatas: Melissa Barton (L), Shawna Gore (R)]

I interviewed Shawna about her band and about the benefit event.

What’s the deal with this show?

“The upcoming show is a benefit for the Ghana Women’s Bicycle Initiative, which is a partner program to the Village Bicycle Initiative. This is essentially a program that ships bikes, bike tools, and mechanics to villages in Ghana where women have very little access to transportation. Not only are bikes donated, but the mechanics provide instruction for keeping the bikes running.

It’s not every day you find such an easy opportunity to make a substantial difference in the lives of people who live half a world away. The Women’s Bicycle Initiative stands to benefit women who live in relatively oppressive poverty by offering them free and sustainable transportation to get to medical care, farms, and to get their kids to school — that’s exactly why we’re doing this.”

Bunny on a Bike ride

[Shawna at the Bunny
on a Bike Ride]

So what makes you a “bikey” band?

“We’re a “bikey” band because we’re bikey people — neither of us own cars and we like to play in support of events that support the kind of lifestyle we prefer to live.

We often load our band gear into bike trailers to haul. To be honest, in order to pull off biking to shows, we usually have to share equipment with another band. But whenever possible, we do it! I’m planning on buying a travel drum kit sometime next year to help make this easier.

And we have a bikey history. Our first performance was at last summer’s Multnomah County Bike Fair. We even wrote a song for bike lovers. I wrote it as a silly love song for my boyfriend who’s a bike mechanic — it’s a flirty song about how much fun it can be to work on your bike with someone you think is cute.”

Are you feminists? Do you consider yourselves a girl band?

“Hell yeah, we’re feminists. And I think we’re a ‘girl band’, in the best sense of that phrase. Influential women rockers have really informed our approach to music.

Melissa’s influenced by Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, while I’m a huge Patti Smith fan, and I’ve long admired people like Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and Georgia Hubley (Yo La Tengo’s drummer). We share an extreme dislike for “girl bands” that don’t write their own material. Cute is great, but I wouldn’t want to get near a stage if I couldn’t play well. Plus, it’s fun to be “cute girls” and unleash the occasional furious thunder of rock.”

So according to new counts, women bicyclists in Portland are anywhere from 21- 45% of the total bicycling population. What do you think of that?

“We just hope that there are neat rocker girls reading this who would come out of the woodworks to see a band of other neat rocker girls, if only they knew we were out there.”

Thanks Shawna!

I hope some of you will join us to have a great time and support this worthy cause. Here are the details:

Mississippi Pizza Pub
Saturday, October 14th at 9pm
Sliding Scale $5-$50
3552 N Mississippi Ave

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Elly Blue (Columnist)

Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for since 2006. Find her at

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el timito
el timito
17 years ago

Gatas en Zapatas rock hard!
Go see them or spend the rest of your life in regret and misery!