Elvis! Costello!

Bishop and Criswell in Turkey.

Bishop and Criswell in Turkey.

Start with a couple DEVOtions

•Addicted to festivals: Damn, Chico! Look at all that music crammed into the beautiful upcoming weekend. In addition to the free outdoor Chico Earthdance in Bidwell Park’s Cedar Grove Sept. 22 & 23 (with music by Ha’Penny Bridge, Wolfthump and many more, and now teamed up with the Touch of Chico massage/bodywork fundraiser for KZFR), there’s also the three-day Hardly Strictly Chico fest, Sept. 21-23. Though it’s not a free event like its bluegrass namesake in Golden Gate Park, with this Hardly Strictly you do get a wide variety of styles by mostly local bands: metal (Teeph, Taunis Year One, etc.) on Friday at Origami Lounge; dance music Saturday at Lost on Main (Kezwik and many more); and rock (Mute Witness, Avita Treason, etc.) on Sunday at Chico Women’s Club.

•Oh, the Humanities! The Humanities Center Gallery’s semester-opening show is a must-see exhibit by locals Lynn Criswell and Michael Bishop, who will be sharing works that have been created over the past few years as the couple has split their time between Chico and Istanbul, Turkey (where they also had an exhibition, at the Kasa Gallery at Sabanci University).

Life (and death) in Chico Is the Synthesis dying? Don’t get mad. I am not the one killing Chico’s long-running good-time party rag. After looking at the last couple of anemic issues, however, I get the feeling that they’ve finally given up on the party and are moving in some vague new direction.

It might come as a surprise to those who regularly read this column, but I used to look forward to picking up the Syn. As much as I’ve bagged on the paper over the years, I used to appreciate (and was maybe a little jealous of) the fact that they had a couple dozen pages on which to run amok in a constant state of arrested development. (And way back in the day I appreciated them writing about my own noise and nonsense.) When the writers were clever, or funny, or they just cared a little bit, it was even entertaining—a sloppy, spirited manifestation of the sloppy, spirited side of our little college town. They weren’t much of a newspaper, but they knew their niche and served it well. But it’s been a long time since that’s been the case or since I’ve had an urge to pick it up. Over the last couple of years, as one after another of the core members of the team has gone out the door, it feels like the fun has gradually left the paper with them, and a sense of detachment has started bleeding through the pages. I don’t follow any of the Synthesis empire’s online outlets, so maybe that’s where the energy is flowing. Which is too bad. The digital version of life in Chico kinda leaves me cold.

Elvis is everywhere.

Elvis is alive! For so many years of my life, the answer to the question of “Who is your favorite musician?” was emphatically: “Elvis Costello!” That hasn’t been true for a while now, as Costello has definitely faded to the background of my musical life over the last 20 years, in favor of me doing my best to always seek out new sounds and flavors—a practice that was born when Costello opened up a musical world beyond The Eagles and KISS. But, of course, when I spread the old albums around the little portable record player for a listening party this week, that old energy came spitting out of the tiny speaker. And just looking at the vinyl all laid out has me very excited for this Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Laxson Auditorium, where I will get to see my first musical hero live in Chico!