Chico CD-releases, a word from the conductor and beer-fest season

Karen Joy Brown … vs. The Amblers

Karen Joy Brown … vs. The Amblers

C-Town Smackdown! It’s Karen Joy Brown and The Bona Fides vs. The Amblers in a first-blood, CD-release death match. Two local albums released in one city in one week:

In this corner you have The Amblers entering the cage at Duffy’s Tavern on Friday, May 14, 9 p.m., laying their second album, Pattern Parts, on the mat. Recorded at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studios in S.F., the 12 tracks of crunchy California soulfulness and loose and jangly indie pop-rock come to a glorious head with the irresistible anthemic hootenanny, “What a Joy” (“What a joy it is/ to not be in a hurry/ What a joy it is/ not to have to worry anymore!”)

KJB and The Bona Fides line up two nights later at Café Flo for a King of the Hill Match, with Wonder Woman Brown standing atop the ladder with Little Words, a new collection of soulful jazzy-folk tunes recorded at Dale “The Engineer” Price’s Electric Canyon Studios. Watch as her Bona Fide band mates, guitarist Chris “Shark Attack” Wenger and stand-up bassist The Rev. Christine “The Indomitable Mama” LaPado attempt to ascend the mountain of pain!!! Sunday, May 16, at 7 p.m.

Can you smell what Chico has cookin’!?!

The conductor speaks …

The Maestro With all of this CAMMIES noise occupying the CN&R’s musical attention, it’s easy not to notice that there is one extremely popular segment of the local music scene that is being left out of the “Chico area music” hoopla—the North State Symphony. Four times each school year, the 100-plus-year-old orchestra puts on sold-out shows in Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium (in addition to performances in Redding and Red Bluff). Classical music might not get the attention other genres garner here, but despite my and your disconnection, symphony music director and conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett puts on some impressive and very noteworthy productions.

One hour before each Laxson show, the conductor gives a free pre-concert talk on the evening’s performance, providing background on the works and the composers being featured. In the spirit of those talks, and in anticipation of renowned clarinetist Jon Manasse appearing as a soloist for the new Lowell Liebermann work featured in The Bold and The Beautiful production (Saturday, May 15, 7:30 p.m., Laxson), I asked Pickett for a brief pre-pre-concert talk. I hoped he would explain why he was so damn excited about the Liebermann piece. Conductor, the stage is yours:

“Lowell Liebermann’s composition is a true masterpiece. I conducted it with our soloist Jon Manasse in Juneau, Alaska, in January, and I truly believe it to be the most beautiful, well-crafted, creative and audience-pleasing new work I have ever done. I have never seen a standing ovation of such duration and enthusiasm for a new work before. Of course, Manasse is a spectacular soloist as well, and I am certain that this work is going to be performed widely in the future.

“Since the late-’60s, symphony audiences have been turned off by new music—justifiably, in many cases. Lowell is from the generation of composers who really care about the audience, and it shows in this piece. His music manages to be fresh and forward-thinking, but it is familiar without being derivative. He incorporates many styles, from movie music, to Romantic symphonic music, to jazz and Latin music in the piece. It’s just a really fun work.

“For the North State Symphony to get to give the West Coast premiere of such an important new piece is a really big deal. This is the kind of thing that usually gets done by a San Francisco Symphony or L.A. Philharmonic. I hope people will take advantage of the opportunity to be among the first to hear it!”

Beer Festivus Two beer fests coming to Manzanita Place? Allow me to explain: Beer Fest No. 1, The Microbrew Festival, is put on by the Soroptomists, and will be happening inside the hall Saturday, June 5, with tickets on sale at the Elks Lodge May 15 only, starting at 9 a.m. Beer Fest No. 2, Chico Brew Fest, is put on by North Valley Productions, and will be happening outside on the lawn Saturday, July 10. And for the Brew Fest, there’s a bonus concert featuring legendary rockers Little Feat (get tix for just the beer, just the rock, or for both). Tickets for the Brew Fest are available online at