Lansing hosts “Triking Tubadour” Jon Hodkin

InnerTuba pays a visit to Thornton Manor ... United Kingdom native Jon Hodkin (far right in the above photo) brought his cycling musical tour that he calls InnerTuba to Lansing Monday, August 7. As part of his stop in Lansing, Hodkin brought his custom-made recumbent tricycle and trailer, along with his tuba, to Thornton Manor, where he played some music and presented a program for residents of the care facility (some of whom are pictured above with him) about his InnerTuba venture that currently includes cycling the length of the Mississippi River. Submitted photo.

InnerTuba provides “inner”tainment ... Jon Hodkin, creator of InnerTuba and a native of the United Kingdom, paid a visit to Lansing Monday, August 7 as part of his 2023 Mississippi River Tour that currently has him traveling the entire length of the Mississippi River, a journey of 3,000 miles in 150 days, from a starting point in Louisiana that began April 18 of this year to a planned finish at Lake Itasca in Minnesota scheduled for mid-September. As part of his travels on his custom-made recumbent tricycle that pulls a trailer housing his tuba, Hodkin’s visit to Lansing included a photo opportunity with the iconic Black Hawk Bridge (photo above) and a musical and educational program he presented at Lansing Office Works that Monday evening (photo below). Photos by Julie Berg-Raymond.

by Julie Berg-Raymond

Even in a place that has seen tens of thousands of bicycle riders come through town - having served twice in the past six years as the destinated “dip-site” for RAGBRAI - residents of Lansing still took notice when Jon Hodkin, a self-described “Triking Tubadour,” passed through town a little over a week ago.

The “triking” in the moniker refers to a custom-made recumbent tricycle; the “tubadour” is, of course, a play on “troubadour” - the French singer-poets of medieval Europe - indicating this traveling musician’s choice of instrument: the tuba. Born in the Midlands region of England, Hodkin lives now in Thurso, Scotland - the northernmost town on the mainland of the United Kingdom.

Currently, though, Hodkin can be found in one or another river town along the Mississippi, (trailered) tuba in tow. He is on his 2023 Mississippi River Tour, which began April 18 in a town called Boothville-Venice, LA, 65 miles south of New Orleans.

Hodkin is founder of InnerTuba - a sort of one-man traveling tuba-and-trike show dedicated to doing what he loves and spreading goodwill and the joy of music while he’s doing it. “There are four things that I love, in my life,” Hodkin says; “and they all begin with a ‘T’: My tuba, my tricycle, my trailer, and traveling - with my tuba, my tricycle and my trailer.”

He could well have added “telling stories” to that list; because as talented a musician as this long-time semi-professional tuba player is, he is also a born storyteller. While in Lansing, Hodkin shared some of his stories (and played music) with a standing-room-only audience at Lansing Office Works.

Of particular delight to a newspaper reporter in attendance was his reference to having met a woman named Emma Crisler, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Port Gibson (Mississippi) Reveille - one of the oldest newspapers in the state, and very possibly one of the few independent papers still in existence. “She and three other older ladies run the paper,” Hodkin says. “She was an absolute hoot.”

According to an article published online in 2014 by MSNewsNow (“Walt’s Look Around: The Port Gibson Reveille”) and written by Walt Grayson, “(Emma’s) husband’s grandfather bought out his partners in 1898 becoming sole owner of the newspaper. He passed the torch to his son in the 1940s.

Then on to Emma’s husband Ed who was editor and publisher until his death in 1998, just shy of the newspaper 100th anniversary.” Hodkin says Emma asked him to pose for a picture in front of a mural in town depicting key figures in the Civil Rights Movement. That picture, along with many others, can be viewed on Hodkin’s Facebook page at InnerTuba.

Hodkin first toured in the United States in 2019 - having by then covered most of England and Scotland. “I was mostly in Iowa, and also went to Illinois and Minnesota,” he notes on his website. Among the highlights of that tour: “I am perhaps most proud of having completed RAGBRAI - the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.”

His dream, though, is to take the trip he first started thinking about in 2012 - a coast-to-coast tour across Canada, the birthplace of his late dear friend, Karin, who died in an automobile accident that year. This trip, which he calls a “work in progress,” will be taken in memory of Karin - like Hodkin, she was an occupational therapist who, he says, “quietly applied her many skills to better the lives of others, every day of her life.”

Hodkin’s travels often take him to schools (a love of his that does not begin with a “t,” one might note). An early stop on his 2023 Mississippi River Tour was, in fact, South Plaquemines Elementary School in Louisiana. Dr. Stacey-Ann Barrett, principal of South Plaquemines Elementary, notes on InnerTuba’s website that “Mr. Hodkin, armed with his Tuba, Trike, and Trailer, pedaled his way right into the hearts of our faculty and students. The audience was mesmerized by his performance on the Tuba and the plethora of rich melodies that he shared as a Tuba Soloist. Mr. Hodkin brought an energy to the performance that engaged our students as young as three years old. I appreciate how he played a plethora of pieces - several required interactions with the audience, while there were pieces that were calming even to the most active child. In addition, we do not have a music program at our school; therefore Mr. Hodkin’s performance was extra special. Mr. Hodkin also shared educational information about the pieces performed, exposed students to vocabulary such as composer and composition and shared stories about his cycling journey across America.”

After performing and spending the night in Lansing August 7, Hodkin headed the next morning to La Crosse, WI. At this writing, Hodkin’s itinerary has him in Lake City, MN - where he will perform, and where he will stay until August 21. From there, he will make his way to the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca MN. He won’t end his journey there, though; from the 11th to the 15th of September, he will be in Bemidji MN, where he will perform.

On his travels in the U.S., Hodkin has performed with bands throughout the Upper Midwest, and has made friends everywhere he has stopped. Indeed, on one of his most recent Facebook posts as of this writing, he thanks his new friends in Wabasha, MN: “Thank you all for the Wabasha Welcome, down by the river, here in Minnesota, USA,” he writes. “Travelling is all about meeting new people who quickly become good friends. Then just as quickly saying goodbye to them. That last bit doesn’t get easier with repetition.”

During his performance and presentation at Lansing Office Works, Hodkin shared with his audience a story about making new friends that holds a particular poignancy right now. When he learned that a young Ukrainian couple - temporarily made refugees by the war - needed a place to stay right away and knowing that he would be on tour for some time, Hodkin offered the couple his small home in northern Scotland. After sharing this story, he performed the Ukrainian national anthem - “for,” he said, “all of the displaced Ukrainians and other displaced people from across the world.”

Hodkin has three “friends,” in particular, who have made his trip possible - his sponsors: Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE); TerraCycle; and Connecticut Yankee Pedaller. Hodkin, who says his tour began with support from Iowa at Chariton’s Connecticut Yankee Pedaller, says, “I absolutely adore Iowa.”

A volunteer at Connecticut Yankee Pedaller is friends with Ann Fields of Lansing, who helped connect Hodkin with his local host, Marlene Duffy. More information about Hodkin and his travels - and, also, opportunities to support his tour - can be found on his website at