Arts Devo

Gearing up for an arts-filled weekend in Chico, and saying goodbye to a local musician

John Coltrane

John Coltrane

Rad-uation weekend The Energy Dome is vibrating like mad! There are some stellar arts and music happenings this graduation weekend. (BTW, heads up, Chico State grads: Butt-melting North Valley heat is forecast for Saturday and Sunday, just as you prepare to don your long, black robes and spend the afternoon on a shadeless athletic field. Might want to go commando.) None of these weekend events is a big-ticket show, but each has Arts DEVO’s fist pump of approval:

• Thursday, May 18, 7 p.m., at the Pageant Theatre: Chasing Trane. I always liken it to looking at the sun. Hearing John Coltrane is the brightest light you can hear—Kamasi Washington. Filmmaker John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon) has crafted what’s being called the definitive Coltrane documentary. Made with the blessings and cooperation of the jazz saxophonist’s family and his record labels, the film features everyone from Sonny Rollins to Bill Clinton weighing in on one of the most important artists in history … and it’s only showing one night!

• Friday, May 19, 9 p.m., at the Blue Room Theatre: Blue Stories: Travel. “Another night of laughing, cringing and blush-inducing stories” with the theater’s live storytelling series, featuring readers Joe Hilsee, Rob Davidson, Santy Gray, Eva Blanshei and emcee Hilary Tellesen.

Hawks & Eagles, with Chris Loizeaux (far right).

Illustration by R. Crumb

• Saturday, May 20, 7:30 p.m., at the Blue Room: A Night of Leonard Cohen Music. It’s a Chico musical history lesson, as a who’s-who of our little musical hamlet—Gordy Ohliger, Steve Cook, Katrina Rodriguez, Peter Berkow, Mark McKinnon, Josh Hegg and more—line up to pay homage to the tower of songs written by he who was “born with the gift of a golden voice.” It’s also a fundraiser for the community theater.

• Saturday, May 20, 8 p.m., at Midtown Local: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: This is one of those regret-forever-if-you-miss shows. The Chicago multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter is a beast of a producer who raps with an off-kilter yet on-point flow, and his new album Drool (Father/Daughter Records) is a shape-shifting slice of super-fun rap that is very likely blowing up as we speak. Kindred spirit SCOUT and angel-voiced singer/songwriter Evin Wolverton open.

RIP The local music community was hit hard this week when news spread about the passing of Chris Loizeaux. The Chico musician and lawyer collapsed suddenly while working in his yard and died on Friday, May 12. He was 66.

Loizeaux has been a fixture in the local music scene for decades, playing almost every style of music with countless bands and combos—String Nation, The Pub Scouts, The New Saddle Kings, Hawks & Eagles, et al.—and collaborating with just about every local musician of note along the way.

“Chris was the go-to Chico side musician—valued for finding the missing harmony part and playing hot mandolin and country/swing/jazz guitar licks,” said longtime local musician Peter Berkow via email. “He was a superb musician, and a very sweet, kind, ethical human being. It is a huge loss to our community.”

On Sunday, Loizeaux’s widow, Jane Martin, invited all of their musician friends over to fill her house with music for Mother’s Day, and according to Berkow, there were probably 100 people who came through. No memorial has been announced yet, but when it does happen, there will no doubt be at least that many who show up with instruments in hand for what will be an appropriately epic jam. Rest in peace, Chris.