Arts Devo

Chico music for days

Kyle Williams in the Big Room with Uncle Dad’s singers (from left) Jenise Coon and Ashiah Scharaga.

Kyle Williams in the Big Room with Uncle Dad’s singers (from left) Jenise Coon and Ashiah Scharaga.

Photo by Ken Pordes

Small fish, big stage For many local musicians, the “I’ve finally made it” moment would be scoring a gig at the Sierra Nevada Big Room. Other than Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium, you won’t find another Chico stage that has hosted so many world-class musicians and provided so many groovy communal memories.

The rub for local acts, however, is not having a big enough draw for the Big Room. The reality for most is that they cannot pull in 350 fans for a show … unless, that is, they call on their crazy uncle and his gang of local fun-makers. Thanks to the busy arts producers of the Uncle Dad’s Art Collective, you have the chance to join the likes of Gillian Welch and the Mother Hips in the annals of the Big Room. For the third year, the group is mounting its Small Town, Big Sound event, a concert featuring tunes submitted by local songwriters that have been reinterpreted by the collective and presented by a full Uncle Dad’s orchestra—typically in collaboration with the original artists—on the Big Room stage.

Small Town, Big Sound will play two nights, Sept. 18-19, and submissions are being accepted at through April 9.

XDS, coming to the CAMMIES Finale April 23.

April is for music Starting next week, April 6, the CN&R will officially kick off this year’s Chico Area Music Festival—aka the CAMMIES—and Arts DEVO wants to make sure everyone is on board with the plan. The CAMMIES have changed a lot over the years, shifting away from so much nominating and voting and instead trying to keep our local music net cast as wide as possible so as to catch as many rockers and folkers from all corners of the scene as possible. For those trying to wrap their heads around what’s in store, here are the basics:

• CAMMIES showcases, April 6-22: Chico venues will produce shows highlighting local musicians, and the CN&R will promote them each week in the paper and on our Facebook event page at

• CAMMIES Finale & Awards Show, April 23: The CN&R will host a free, outdoor music festival at Patrick Ranch, featuring performances by 13 local acts plus the presentation of the CAMMIES Awards, both the dozen or so critics’ choice awards and the one people’s choice award for Best Local Act.

• Local Music Issue, April 13: In the spirit of the local music season, the CN&R publishes its annual issue spotlighting acts to watch in the Chico scene.

• CAMMIES voting, through April 16: Visit and write in any local act (bands or solo artists) currently playing original music.

So, get out there this month and see what Chico has to offer. Challenge yourself and go to a venue or hear a band that you normally wouldn’t. Insider’s tip: Local music impresario Sesar Sanchez has a Chico Bands database at Log on and just start clicking links and discover something new. And hey, local bands, if you don’t see your link on the site, send an email to and include your band name, link to your website, and three genre titles that would apply to your music. Get in the game!