Arts Devo

Arts DEVO loves his dudes and folk

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My two dudes This morning, as he does every morning, Arts DEVO rode his bike through Lower Bidwell Park on the way to the CN&R office. It takes one song to get to work, and the selection for today was a Bob Dylan cover of “This Land Is Your Land.” The halting phrasing of his intimate rendition was the ideal soundtrack for the perfect sunny winter scene: bare trees against blue skies, and Woody Guthrie’s enduring words talking me down the path winding alongside a rushing Big Chico Creek. It was all I could do to not keep riding out in search of some ribbon of highway to wherever it might take me.

As I sit in the office, my reflective mood is undoubtedly the product of staring at a couple of empty desks where two of my best friends—both of whom would’ve deeply appreciated the vibe of my morning commute—normally would be sitting. Howard Hardee, man of action and nature, whose adventurous spirit keeps him outdoors always; and Ken Smith, musician and warrior poet, who is the reason why I (and many others, I suspect) seek out the words of Woody, have left the building. Both worked here for more than six years, and thankfully, they will continue to write for the CN&R as freelancers while simultaneously seeking out writing opportunities beyond the boundaries of this publication. So, my dudes are still in town.

Two of the great traits Ken and Howard share are an insatiable curiosity about the world around them, and a sensitivity to the individual circumstances of people they encounter. This not only contributes to them being great writers, but also makes them pretty great people to party with, and I look forward to many years of sharing beers and hearing all about what they find in all their rambling and roaming. Excelsior, my friends!

Other folk Since I’m in the music spirit, I want to give a shout out to a local musician, Michael Bone, who a few months ago, via his 1day Song Club, posted a fantastic bit of protest pop (written in one day!) on the topic of Donald Trump, called “My Peace Will Outlive You” (“Why are you ripping our hearts out?/Breaking our love down?”), that was included in a story on anti-Trump music published in a handful of weekly newspapers across the country in November. Hear the song and a few other local Trump-inspired tunes Bone compiled at

And while I’m at it, here are some folk/country song lyrics sent to me a couple of weeks ago by local musician/writer Steve Metzger, a tribute to Chico’s musical nature:

Folkie From Old Chico (to the tune of “Okie from Muskogee,” with apologies to Merle Haggard)

We love playing music here in Chico/We love when friends and neighbors sing along/There’s nothing else that makes us quite as happy/We like livin’ free and singin’ songs

We still make a party out of singin’/We love guitars, fiddles, mandolins/And, yes, sometimes our hair gets long and shaggy/Like it did in San Francisco way back when

I’m proud to be a folkie from old Chico/A place where music changes me and you/We still swap our songs around the fire/Singin’ Cohen, Dylan, Prine, and Guthrie too

We still go to the protests down on Main Street/But you know an angry mob just won’t be seen/We’d rather wave our peace signs than Old Glory/And do our best to keep the planet green

I’m proud to be a folkie from old Chico/A place where music changes me and you/We still swap our songs around the fire/Singin’ Willie, Towns and Merle and Emmylou/We still swap our songs around the fire/In Chico, California, USA