Synthesis is out

Cold Blue Mountain and Trench, live at Juanita’s.

Cold Blue Mountain and Trench, live at Juanita’s.

I have Syn in my heart By now, most locals know that the last issue of the Synthesis was printed this week. And the reality of it has kind of caught Arts DEVO off guard. Despite the many arrows slung across downtown in its direction from this columnist’s desk over the years, I really didn’t hate the paper. Kind of like the greater Chico social sphere that its “synthesis” of voices was meant to represent, there was—for most of its incarnations—a handful of passionate and righteous rockers whom I dug for making their own fun at the center of an oppressively boring mob of Cheeko! douchebags puking out half-assed nonsense all around them. Today, I actually count many of those righteous folks (and maybe even a few of the douchy ones) as friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. And knowing how big of a part the Synthesis played in their personal and professional lives, I’m bummed for their loss.

To be honest, during the Syn’s first decade (before Arts DEVO was a twinkle in my eye), I was stoked any time one of my own bands or a show I was putting on was featured in its pages. I even wrote a couple of articles for the paper (about my own events, naturally) back in the day. So, as I look back at the bigger picture of the party the Synthesis was able to sustain for itself and the local scene, even though I still think that most of the back-and-forth between our papers was good dirty fun, I do regret a couple of the more stinky turds I dropped into their punch bowl. Oh well, too late to take back my party fouls now. All I can say is, thanks for the fun times and best of luck to all of the staff, past and present. See you on the town.

The music scene I’ve been here since 1989 and heavily involved in one way or another with local music that entire time. I’ve experienced many of the fondly remembered heady times: The Burro Room/Wall Street era. The Whispering Clam and Blue Room shows. The sustained miracle of that most egalitarian burrito shop, Juanita’s (and its short-lived successors, the Riff Raff, et. al.). The good ol’ days at LaSalles. DNA and his Downtown Music Revolution. The beautiful mess of The Moxies era. Rene Fulcrum and Fulcrum Records. Monstros and the punks. Many nights of big noise at little Café Coda.

All of those good times were marked by a variety of great Chico bands playing local venues (usually all-ages) that were committed to bringing up-and-coming touring bands to town to play with. It is the recipe for a great scene (artistically/socially at least; no one involved in any of the above got rich).

I’d have to say that today, after a recent drop off in energy, I think we are moving toward another peak. The Maltese has at least one great rock/indie/punk bill a week and Lost on Main has been killing it by pairing local groove makers with an impressive roster of visiting funk/jam/rock acts several times a month. The Chico Area Punks are still kicking up sawdust at Monstros and Café Coda is still doing a couple shows a month. But the deciding factor will be the 1078 Gallery. It’s all-ages and the new beer license will keep the of-age scenesters from bolting. If they can tap into some exciting veins of touring acts and combine them with a nice range of locals, then maybe …

Speaking of locals, I think Chico has as big of a collection of active, distinctly original bands in the scene as I’ve seen in a long time. You could even put them on fantasy bills with some of the better Chico groups of the last few decades and not even blink: Cold Blue Mountain and Trench. Michelin Embers and The Asskickers. Severance Package and Fat Chick From Wilson Phillips. MaMuse and The Mother Hips. Surrogate and The Imps. Swamp Zen and Stone Blossom. West By Swan and The Downsiders. Bunnymilk and Vomit Launch. Clouds on Strings and Pitchfork Tuning.

Things look pretty good.