Arts DEVO: Rockin’ to summer; fall into arts

The last gardenia
Jason Cassidy

That smell

The last of my gardenia flowers has just gone brown. In late spring, there is a sweet spot in the middle of my backyard where the gardenia and jasmine fragrances mingle, and to sit at the table placed right exactly there with a beer within reach and the sun on my face is to be in heaven on Earth.

Today, it is high summer in Chico, and the middle of my backyard in the middle of the day is hell on Earth. Sitting there exposed to the afternoon sun means death for delicate flowers, not to mention pink-skinned men.

Only the hardy species thrive around here this time of year, which is probably why the entertainment calendar is dominated by rockers in July and August. Chico’s bars and cafes are jammed with native and invasive acts inspiring movement in the locals, despite the heat, and producing a collaborative perfume of humanity that is not without its own musky charm.

And it’s not just cover bands, which seem to have dominated the calendar during COVID times. Raise a glass to the good people putting original music on the stages at Duffy’s Tavern, Argus Bar + Patio, Naked Lounge, Gnarly Deli, Secret Trail Brewing Co., Om on the Range, Tackle Box and Mulberry Station Brewing Co. It gives me hope for the rebound of the music scene.

Arts DEVO’s pick from the August rock batch is the Intimate Stares show on Aug. 19 at Naked Lounge, with locals West By Swan and LDF opening. The headliners are from Seaside (near Monterey), and they claim to produce “bombastic, heavy, space rock infused post-punk stoner noise”; that’s everything I needed to hear. Apologies ahead of time for any smells I bring to the party.

Arts forecast

Even though the temperature here won’t drop significantly for months, we have reached the other side of the summer mountain and are within sight of cool new seasons of programming that will balance out the arts-and-culture calendar.

Two of the biggies in town—North State Symphony and Chico Performances—just dropped their lists of what’s to come, and the former is betting on better days ahead with its hopeful theme for the season: “Experience Joy.”

The orchestra’s kickoff will be Sept. 24 at Laxson Auditorium, and the opening program starts things on a high-energy note with Latin Fireworks: Mariachi Meets the Symphony. Joining the celebration of Latin composers (Arturo Marquez, Juventino Rosas and more) will be three-time Grammy-winning Mariachi Garibaldi de Jamie Cuellar ensemble. The rest of the schedule includes a production of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Nov. 13); a Holiday Pops! show (Dec. 9); Haydn’s Drumroll (Feb. 11); a young-audience concert of The Conductor’s Spellbook (March 7); and a season-closer that includes Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with “blazing” pianist Charlie Albright. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 9 (


Chico Performances is bringing another wonderfully eclectic season of performing arts to our little corner of the world, with multiple world-famous musicians scheduled for the Laxson stage, including The Beach Boys (Sept. 7), Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt (Nov. 2), Tommy Emmanuel (Dec. 7), The Mavericks (Dec. 13), Pink Martini (March 9) and Los Lobos (March 19).

Other intriguing selections include the experimental Ukrainian world-music quartet DakhaBrakha (Sept. 28); a 50th anniversary performance by the adventurous Pilobolus dance company (Feb. 17); and a multi-discipline tribute to the wildfire-ravaged trees of our state called Treelogy: A Musical Portrait of California’s Redwood, Sequoia and Joshua Trees, featuring Billy Childs, Steven Mackey, Gabriella Smith and Delirium Musicum (Feb. 28).

Ticket packages go on sale Aug. 8, single tickets on Aug. 15 (

Correction: In the print version of this column, the flowers in the photo and the first paragraph were mistakenly referred to azaleas instead of gardenias.

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