As the CN&R asks the question, “What’s up with downtown?” in this issue, Arts DEVO is pleased to report that the music scene in the city’s core is looking pretty good these days. We did suffer the huge loss of Om on the Range and its lively, eclectic calendar at the end of 2022; however, as Chico fades into a long summer, I’m looking forward to once again sweating alongside friends during rock shows at what look to be busy downtown haunts—Naked Lounge, Duffy’s Tavern, Gnarly Deli, Argus Bar + Patio.
The Winchester Goose has also solidified its place in the downtown scene, with a full calendar of local and visiting acts thanks to booker and longtime Chico rocker Aubrey Debauchery. On my radar this month at the Goose is the July 19 triple-bill with Reno’s mathy Rob Ford Explorer duo, SF indie crew Hit Me Harold and locals LDF.
And this just in: Lost on Main is reopening! Closed since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chico club known for hosting touring, festival-ready dance bands is putting on its first live party in more than three years. Portland’s Scott Pemberton will christen the newly remodeled club on Sept. 16.
Most pleasantly surprising of all downtown? This year’s Friday Night Concert calendar looks fun! The Downtown Chico Business Association has wisely handed over the planning reins to the very locally engaged folks at Kai Music and Arts, and the result for their first year on the job is a very impressive and eclectic roster for the weekly concerts under the City Plaza band shell. Singer/songwriter Pat Hull opened for the kick off last month, and upcoming shows include man-of-many-musical-hats ThunderLump (July 28); face-melting rock with Tite Naughts and The Chemicals (Aug. 18); and XDS (experimental disco punk) and Sunny Acres (indie-rock fun) on Oct. 6. The concert series runs through Oct. 13. Visit downtownchico.com for info.
Blue peace book
Though it’s an obvious exaggeration to say that almost everyone in our little town knew, or at least knew of, the Rev. Junkyard Moondog, to those of us in the arts community—and to his university colleagues—he was ubiquitous. Skinny, long-haired, tie-dyed outdoor-concert twirler. Poet. Author. Actor. Activist. Bicyclist. Recyclist. Buddhist. Pacifist. Paddler. Deadhead. River rat. Cat lover. Weed smoker. Seahawks and 49ers fan. Supporter of every endangered blue whale, black rhino, brown pelican, orange roughy, golden eagle, old-growth redwood and every hungry child and abandoned dog and cat on the planet. (From Rock My Soul, by Stephen Metzger)
That right reverend of partying and peace—Rev. Junkyard Moondog, aka Jim Dwyer—is the main subject of Rock my Soul, the latest book by longtime Chico author, musician, English instructor, frequent CN&R contributor and friend of mine, Stephen Metzger. After Moondog’s death in 2015, Metzger bought his tiny blue home in the Avenues (with its unmistakable peace sign that remains on the roof), then restored and christened it the Blue Peace House. Alongside that process, Metzger researched and wrote this book which acts as a posthumous biography of one of this town’s favorite characters, as well a semi-memoir for the author and semi-history of Chico.
I’m just starting to dig in (having mostly skipped around to sample different sections right before my deadline), but as Metzger weaves funny and sad Moondog anecdotes (provided by family and Chico friends, including this columnist) into snapshots of his own life and the history of this area (from the filming of Robin Hood in Bidwell Park to Woody Guthrie’s local summer), he paints a colorful picture of this quirky little town.
The book goes for $19.95 and can be purchased locally at The Bookstore and Made in Chico, as well as via the big online booksellers.