Arts Devo

Local music is great, and so is Prince

Deathstar at Juanita’s back in the day.

Deathstar at Juanita’s back in the day.

A Chico songwriter For longtime readers of this column, it’s no secret that Arts DEVO is a local-music junkie. I’ve been paying attention to Chico’s music scene since before I moved here in 1989. So, naturally, I was stoked about this whole discussion of the best local songs that started on my Facebook page and spilled over into the CN&R.

A big part of the discussion has been a shared nostalgia, which has made me feel grateful for having lived through so much great local music. I mean, I count many Chico songs (see the complete catalogs of West by Swan, Deathstar, Downsiders, etc.) as some of my favorite music of all time—local or otherwise. And for me, the best part is that, from the start, that music has inspired me to put hand to guitar and create a bunch of poppy and/or noisy jams of my own. A few of those ditties even made it onto the master list of local faves, which was very nice. However, as editor of the story, I decided it wasn’t fair to include any of those in this issue (and I am in very good company—many worthy songs aren’t included). But, I do realize that it is fair to note, for historical accuracy, that my co-conspirators (in Pep Rally, Cowboy and The Party) and I played a few notes in the local soundtrack as well.

I also was pleased that not all of the dicussion was focused on the good ol’ days. There is a lot of great music being made in Chico right now—by the likes of Chris Keene (solo and with his band Surrogate), Bunnymilk, Michelin Embers, MaMuse, Solar Estates, Pat Hull, Bran Crown—that’s as good as anything to have come before.

“Prince,” by Melissa Paddock

Don’t believe me? Come see for yourself this weekend at the CAMMIES Finale & Awards Show, Sunday, May 1, 2-7 p.m., at Patrick Ranch, as we cap off 10 days of celebrating local music. It’s a free show, it’s going to be a sunny day in the Durham orchards (bring your chairs, blankets, sunscreen and mosquito repellent—but not your dogs or smokes), and 13 bands will perform on two stages. Plus, Inday’s, Chicobi and Black Kettle will be selling food, the CN&R Foundation will be selling beer and we’ll also be handing out some awards—including the readers’ choice award for Best Local Act. (See the CAMMIES page for more details.)

RIP Prince My entire body is covered in goosebumps at the memory of sprinting to the dance floor inside the Buckeye Junior High cafeteria/basketball gym as the introductory keyboard splashes of “1999” kicked in. For a white, pudgy-faced, 13-year-old boy living in Redding in 1983, there was nothing as exciting as Prince. MTV was by far my most influential teacher at the time, and that song/video was my music, sex and dance education all rolled into one (though I was a long, long ways away from putting any knowledge I may have acquired to use).

In eighth grade, I really wanted to be like Michael Jackson. Prince as an entity was, and in some ways still is, beyond my comprehension. But Prince’s music has had the greater impact and has much better withstood the test of time. Today, I’d take both Purple Rain and 1999 over Thriller.

Among the news of musical greats who’ve recently passed away, Prince’s death at the age of just 57 is especially sad. I think he had more to get out of life, and he surely had more great music in him. Though he died too young, he left behind many lives’ worth of great art, and as with Bowie, Lemmy and The Hag, the art he created is still here and will continue to add color to our lives.

(And speaking of art, check out the sweet Prince drawing/painting that Chico artist Melissa Paddock did last weekend and sent to the CN&R!)