20 years of jammin’

Stone Blossom at Juanita’s

Stone Blossom at Juanita’s

Extended jam … Back in the ’90s, you couldn’t throw a Hacky Sack in Chico without knocking the bong off a jam band’s amplifier. Of course, our good-time city has always enjoyed musicians who wouldn’t quit on the party, but during those Electric Circus/Mother Hips glory days Chico was especially groovy.

And it was during this era when your Arts DEVO first brought his unfunky ass to the Cheeko Party, and almost immediately upon arrival drew a line in the dirt: bare feet on that side, black socks on this side.

Also coming on the scene during that era (and probably falling on the much less uptight dusty-toed side of the line) was Doug Stein, a sleepy-eyed singer who would become one of Chico’s most enduring frontmen. From his early days leading bands like Medicine Dog, Stone Blossom and Stout & Downers, to fronting Puddle Junction and now Swamp Zen, Stein has always been one of the cornerstones of Chico’s jam scene. And this Friday, March 12, at 9 p.m., Stein will celebrate the night, exactly 20 years prior, when he first stepped onto a local stage with Medicine Dog inside the old Sherwood Brewery (where The Down Lo is today). Right upstairs from his first Chico gig, at Lost on Main, Stein, the Swamp Zen crew, plus his many musical friends will party like it’s 1990.

Though it’s still hard for me to refrain from making cracks about dirt-twirlers, and crunchy and/or tasty things (grooves, riffs, licks, etc.), I will pause in my wiseassness in deference to one sincere, fun-loving good guy who happens to also be one of Chico’s hardest-working local-music champions. However, while I really do dig Doug and everything he’s about, I am obviously not the person who should be talking about his music. Former CN&R columnist and one-time king of local-music promotion (and current Bay Area comedian) DNA is the guy to speak to Stein’s art, and he was more than happy to send a celebratory note on the eve of the 20th anniversary gig:

“Doug is one of the only performers who can call the audience ‘brothers and sisters’ and play a tambourine without everyone throwing up. He’s genuine and authentic, like Jim Morrison was genuine and authentic (without the excessive weight and trips to France). He’s a ringleader, the guy who illuminates the band signal in the sky and brings together the best of Chico’s musicians. At the farthest-most bottomest-most part of his heart, he’s a bluesman, able to dredge up the emotions in the most soulless of audience members. Doug can make strong men weep and young girls laugh.”


Meet your new kings

•Rock Creek Jug Band: I heard about last week’s RCJB CD-release show too late to write anything about it, so allow me to direct you the band’s MySpace page at where you can listen to tracks from the old-timey four-piece’s impressive debut Simpler Times, and link to the CD Baby page where you can order your own copy.

•The new fulcrum of art: “A tightly knit group of like-minded artists caught in the limbo that we call Chico,” otherwise known as Kyle Delmar, Matt Barber, Andrew Terrell and Dylan Tellesen, are hosting an open house/art show/garden party at their new downtown art space Friday, March 12, 6-9 p.m. Housed in the former home of Fulcrum Records (530 Brodway), the tentatively dubbed No Kings Gallery is basically the rebirth of The 46, the recently closed North Chico art warehouse, and will be a work space and a gallery showing works by local and visiting artists.