Europe on the brain
Murican abroad Arts DEVO is anxious. In celebration of a recent momentous birthday for Mrs. DEVO, we’re busy preparing to leave for a tour of Europe for much of June. All the reservations have been made, the house sitter is set, and I’ve been brushing up on my Canadian accent (“No, I’m from Nova Scotia, eh.”). But thanks in large part to our loutish Manboy in Chief, the image of the Ugly American is getting uglier by the day, and every new boneheaded decree increases the chance that someone might spit in my salade niçoise. We are going to do our part to counter that image by being ambassadors of badass America, the progressive, empathetic America that digs new ideas and punk rock and caring for the planet and our fellow humans. I’m going to look at this as an opportunity to engage in conversation with new people—Europeans as well as fellow travelers—and contribute to a narrative that hopefully paints a little less douchey picture of Americans.
As for our adventure, I won’t make you gag with vacation details, other than to say that a portion of our trip will be spent driving around the Provence region of France, and as I’ve plotted out excursions in the area, I’ve discovered something very interesting and unexpected. While roaming back roads via Google Street View, I was struck by how familiar the Provencal scenery is. To wind through the country roads and see the farms and secluded properties was not unlike the experience of driving around the rural areas of Nor Cal. There are miles of sun-faded trees and dried-out fields, and the crappy dirt driveways and dilapidated outbuildings are reminiscent of typical country compounds around Durham, or Biggs, or Anderson. Even looking at the much more composed online travel photos of lavender fields and Mediterranean sunsets reminded me of the embarrassment of natural beauty we have in our own backyard—from the ocean and redwoods of the North Coast to the Sierra Nevada, and from wine country to the almond-blossom bloom of Butte County. I’m not trying to say Nor Cal is the same as southern France. I’m just saying it’s worth remembering that we have a pretty sweet setup in these parts as well.
And I’m not really letting Trump dampen my vacation spirit. As I’m dancing in a cave with a wine bottle in each hand, eating caccio e pepe at the source and crashing the island of Ulysses’ sirens, I’m sure I’ll be able to find a way to relax.
OK, feel free to gag a little.
New shell for The Snail Holy moly! Big changes for the local music-recording scene. Longtime Chico musician and audio engineer Dale “The Snail” Price is closing down his popular Electric Canyon recording studio in Butte Creek Canyon. The studio isn’t going out of business. Price is just moving the operation into town. The recording equipment is going out to the current Energy Plant Arts studio on the south side of town, where Price will combine resources and collaborate with the Energy Plant people as well as Bay Area punk/rock engineer Josh Garcia (who recently recorded local freak-rockers The Vesuvians) on a new recording space called Electric Canyon at Energy Plant. The rest of Price’s equipment will be going into the garage of his Chico home where he plans to do mixing projects in an exact replica of the Electric Canyon control room.
Since Electric Canyon’s opening in 2003, Price has recorded more than 500 albums at the beautiful studio, many by local artists—everything from the Mother Hips to Mystic Roots—so it’s a bittersweet milestone for him and the music scene. But with his two new spaces, plus his increased capacity for mobile recording, Price undoubtedly will be behind the controls for many more local recordings to come.