Arts Devo

Swamp Zen and Sierra Nevada

Swamp Zen’s Doug Stein (left) and Steve Hoffman sample the PilZen at Sierra Nevada.

Swamp Zen’s Doug Stein (left) and Steve Hoffman sample the PilZen at Sierra Nevada.

Cheers, you freakin’ rock gods! Hey, Chico band, think you’re the shit? Your riffs super tight? Your grooves last until the morning light? Are you swimming in free buds and suds, and scoring every night? Is your band so ingrained in the consciousness of this music-loving city that Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed a beer in your honor to celebrate your 10th anniversary?

Oh … can’t claim that last one? Get off the stage, amateurs, and make way for Swamp Zen and several cases of local cred. In the tradition of Hips Helles—the helles bock the brewery made to honor one-time local sons The Mother Hips—SierraNevada has crafted Swamp Zen PilZen, a specialty Czech pilsner (fun fact: Pilsen or Plzen in the Czech Republic is where pilsners were born), to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Chico’s favorite party band. An anniversary/beer-release party will take place this Saturday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m., in the Hop Yard at Sierra Nevada, featuring plenty of PilZen and a performance by an expanded version of Swamp Zen (with the Zen Horns!), plus an opening set by Lee Simpson.

I reached out to Swamp dudes Doug Stein (singer/songwriter/guitarist/ringleader) and Steve Hoffman (percussion)—each of whom has been groovin’ in the scene for more than two decades—to ask if theirs is the last Chico jam band standing, and the bandmates messaged a reply:

“Obviously it’s not the same as it was in 1994 with bands such as Puddle Junction, Electric Circus, Jordhuga, Ten Pound Brown, The Mother Hips, etc. But there are definitely some bands getting their jam on, such as Black Fong, Dylan’s Dharma, Smokey the Groove and Lo and Behold. We surely would say Swamp Zen is not [the only one, and] we are glad to be part of everything. We continue to encourage music lovers to go out and support local live music as much as possible—all genres included! In the words of our dear friends [the Grateful Dead], ‘Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart, ya just gotta poke around.’”

Tickets for the anniversary/beer release are $10 and going fast. More info at

Etcetera One of downtown Chico’s longest-running businesses is moving … downtown! Art Etc., the art-and-framing store that has been on Third Street for 30 years (and in downtown since 1973, when original owners Bob and Jean Reagan opened it), has moved to 256 E. First St. Anna and Dave Simcox, owners of the business for the last eight years, sold it to local graphic designer Caleb Klungtvet. The Simcoxes closed the doors at Third Street at the end of July, and Klungtvet is holding a grand reopening party for Art Etc.—with snacks, drinks and a raffle—at the new spot on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Help your uncle out Today (Aug. 23) is the last day to help the Uncle Dad’s Art Collective raise dough for expenses for this year’s Small Town Big Sound production. The annual local-songwriter showcase, featuring the original music of local musicians reinterpreted and performed by the Uncle Dad’s Orchestra, is going on the road this year, playing a four-city Nor Cal tour (with a Chico stop at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. on Sept. 6), which means their expenses have increased substantially. Go to and donate to the collective’s Indiegogo drive, like, right now!