Arts Devo

Chico is my crappy place

The late Lester Standiford, at the 2004 California State Old Time Fiddle & Picking Championships.

The late Lester Standiford, at the 2004 California State Old Time Fiddle & Picking Championships.

CN&R file photo

Chico sucks Reading Gallup’s recently released Community Well-Being survey that found Chico to be the least well of the California cities it polled, Arts DEVO wasn’t surprised to see that people around here are stressed out about money and the lack of job prospects in the area. Many of my friends over the years have left Chico for those reasons and most haven’t come back.

But despite its grim financial reality, Chico has contributed greatly to my well-being. From my poorest scrounging-for-change-in-seat-cushions days (i.e., my first 20 years in town), to the days of living large (now being able to afford a burrito and a fancy beer when the mood strikes), Chico’s made my life better. No matter how poor or hopeless I’ve been, it’s always so easy to fall back into this small, supportive, freaky, active, friendly, rowdy, music-mad city built around a university and a gigantic park and feel like a more well being.

Get pickin’ I never hear anything about this until the last minute, but it is one of Butte County’s coolest annual events: the California State Old Time Open Fiddle & Picking Championship happens this weekend, March 17-18, at the Oroville Veterans Memorial Hall (2374 Montgomery St.). It’s the 51st edition of the competition, and there will be various pickin’ and fiddlin’ contestants playing inside throughout each day, but the real action is outside where the RVs are gathered in the parking lot along the Feather River and where generations of musicians gather for impromptu acoustic jams. For more info, visit the association’s website at, email or call 533-9336.

Chico Area Music Explosion That rumbling coming from just beyond the edge of March is the sound of music on the horizon. The Chico News & Review is once again gearing up for the CAMMIES Music Festival, preparing to blare the sound of Chico’s music scene over three-plus weeks of local music celebration. First up are the CAMMIES showcases, April 6-22, for which Chico’s music venues will present local music nights in support of the scene. And capping it all off, the CN&R will host the finale/awards show, a free, all-day, outdoor music marathon.

In the first three issues of April, the CN&R will be promoting each week’s local music shows, so if your venue and or your band is putting something local together, send info about your event (happening April 6-22) to to be considered for publication. And include links to your event’s website so that we can sync it up with the CAMMIES Facebook calendar at


First on the calendar is the last on the calendar: the CAMMIES Finale & Awards Show (April 23, 2-7 p.m.) at Patrick Ranch, featuring a roster of 13 Chico acts alternating between two stages: Smokey the Groove, Pat Hull, Underhouse Music, Low Flying Birds, The Empty Gate, Hallelujah Junction, XDS, John Seid & Friends, Viking Skate Country, Max Minardi, Shibumi, Cat Depot and Scout.