Arts DEVO: Amish Rake Fight, et al.

Chico Old-School Music Scene on Facebook, Mt. Lassen at the symphony, Twilight Zone at the Blue Room

Snake, Jack Dammit International and Ska-T on stage with Brutilicus Maximus: all old-school, all great names. (Photo by Blynda Barnett)
Jason Cassidy

If you’ve ever played music in a group with others you’ve made the band-names list. Perhaps, like Arts DEVO, you are a little obsessive about such things and you save that list and continually add to it as the ideas come. I mean, we could start a new band tomorrow. We should totally start a band! Let’s call ourselves The Timber Lanes, or Picasso … Wait, no [checks list] … Hammer Truck!

In a music-crazy city like Chico, a band’s gotta have a strong name game. Some of the best band names I’ve ever heard—not just from this town, but from anywhere ever—have appeared on local fliers:

Amish Rake Fight, Dionne Warlock, What You Like Salad?, Brutilicus Maximus, The Crystal Methodists, Butte County Cosmic Love Division, Vomit Launch, Swiss Family Donner Party, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, Ride the Nine, Pitchfork Tuning, Dog Killer, Dr. Becky Sagers Ph.D., Land of the Wee Beasties, Deathstar, Free Beer, Li’l Suicide Bunny, Mid-Fi, Gorgeous Armada (featuring Handsome Gorgeous), Experimental Dental School, Aubrey Debauchery, Ooh La La, Abominable Iron Sloth, Blood Bath and Beyond, Bunnymilk, Tri-Lateral Dirts Commission, Pageant Dads, French Reform, Hallelujah Junction, West by Swan, Michelin Embers.

I was reminded of many of those classics in a recent discussion in the new Chico Old-School Music Scene Facebook group started by a couple of local-music legends—Charles Mohnike (former CN&R writer and drummer/guitarist who played in many bands—Incredible Diamonds, Blue Plate Special, The Verves, etc.) and Feeney Arnold (saxman in everything from Brutilicus Maximus to The QuasiMofos).

The group debuted last month and it’s already amassed an impressive archive of images, news clippings, fliers and digitized audio/video documenting more than a half century of local music. They’ve also created a streaming Chico Old-School Radio station that plays all-old-school-local music (pre-2011) all the time. The playlist is as eclectic as a month’s worth of shows as the legendary Juanita’s nightclub/burrito joint. A recent session took me from a live recording of a Honky Tonk Nite at The Maltese Bar all the way back to the very-reverb-heavy vocals of The Heat Seekers from the 1984 debut compilation cassette for the Devil in the Woods record label.

Tune into that freaky Chico sound at:

Sounds of the wild

With the final month of school comes the season finale for the North State Symphony, Masterworks 4. In addition to pieces by Rachmaninoff and Dvorak, the production will feature a new work called “Lassen Awakes” by Marko Bajzer. The Nor-Cal composer came up with the piece during his time as 2022 Artist-in-Residence at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Bajzer was commissioned to write “an orchestral work depicting the park,” and according to his website, it’s the first part of his multi-movement From Sea to Shining Sea; a Musical Journey through America’s National Parks. Catch the world premiere with our local symphony Sunday, May 14, at 2 p.m., at Laxson Auditorium.

Get in the Zone

And now former SS Captain Lutze will revisit his old haunts, satisfied perhaps that all that is awaiting him in the ruins on the hill is an element of nostalgia. What he does not know, of course, is that a place like Dachau cannot exist only in Bavaria. By its nature, by its very nature, it must be one of the populated areas… of the Twilight Zone—opening May 26 at the Blue Room Theatre.

Twilight Zone at the Blue Room.

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