Boo Chico. Yeah Chico.
Chico blues Sigh. An unavoidable part of living in a small town is that sometimes you totally hate living in a small town. And despite the current springshine and all the picnics and puppy dogs and kisses it brings, I’m not feeling Chico this week. I say the following with apologies to Melody Records (which I love for keeping vinyl, and even used CDs, from going extinct in Chico):
I live in a city with no record store.
It’s easy to for me to forget this fact when every song I could potentially ever want is a few keystrokes away from my ear holes, but I really miss the days when I would go into a Sundance or Tower Records and get the new independent release the day it came out. More than anything this past weekend, I wanted to kick off the season with a new, raucous CD. The plan was to buy The Monitor, the new Titus Andronicus disc that I was so excited about, put on the headphones and enjoy an album uninterrupted from beginning to end one or three times. Start spring with a fist in the air!
Sadly, Best Buy is usually the best bet for new music in Chico now, but it feels like a record store about as much as Target or Walmart does. I’d rather visit the iTunes store. I wanted a hard copy, though, with cover art and album credits and lyrics inside—something to hold in my hands and absorb along with the disc. Of course, Best Buy didn’t have The Monitor. There’s no reason they would. There might be five people in town who are interested in the band, and four of them have probably already downloaded the new album.
I realize that things have changed for good. Unless the grid collapses, opening a record store might be the single worst possible small-business decision one could make. I can and will still order discs from the labels myself, but I do wish there were somewhere in the city I live in where I could go to be with the music.
Join the party OK, enough with the whining. Chico is great! Probably the No. 1 thing I love about our city is how open-hearted the local music and arts community is. If there’s a friend or cause in need, especially one involving a fellow musician or artist, Chico’s rockers, folkies, painters, slammers and jammers will donate themselves to the benefit.
One of the more open of the hearts belongs to Chico State philosophy professor, peace activist, arts promoter and musician Greg Tropea. Years ago, before Café Coda took over much of the building, Tropea and his wife, Koko, (and their right-hand man, Michael-in-the-black-beret) ran what was the most eclectic venue in town, Humboldt Studios. The studios still exist, but back then the face of the operation was a steady stream of performances of all kinds that Tropea hosted in the front room—everything from poetry to heavy metal. If you had a crazy idea (like Velvet Underground vs. The Doors cover night), Tropea opened his studios to it.
A few years ago Tropea was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and while he’s been using an array of alternative therapies to keep the effects of the disease at bay, as time goes by his energy is naturally waning. To honor the man, and raise his spirits and some moola, a bunch of his creative friends will be performing Tropea’s poetry in their own original compositions Sunday, March 28, 7 p.m., at Café Culture. The growing list of players includes Tropea’s daughter and son-in-law, Gina Tropea Henson and Saul Henson, plus MaMuse, Doug Stein, Jimmy Brobeck, John-Michael Sun, DeeDee Vest, Randy Larsen and more.
After looking over the 100-plus pages of Tropea’s lyrics, his “We Are Not Made to Be Alone” (1997) seemed particularly appropriate for the occasion. Here are a few excerpted lines:
We come to be upon the magic touch/ And we discover others near and far/ Be it in the blood or in the soul/ We must connect; that’s who we are. … But moments have a truth we sense at times/ Even if it’s not completely known/ Except as truth is what we are/ In ways not made to be alone.