Chico gets more new bands and the CAMMIES return
The Redding dudes
Just around the corner from Buz’s Crab Stand in Redding, and a block down from Mike’s Meats and Kathy’s Pies, was the Plumbers Hall. In that faded-brick corner building is where I put on my first few rock shows, presaging what would become one of the major pursuits in my life.
I don’t know how I was able to do it, but somehow I convinced bands to play the Plumbers Hall for a cut of half the door (after my expenses, including hall rental, were deducted!). It was 1988, I was 19 years old, and it was an eye-opening and empowering time, as bands from Chico like Vomit Launch and Grover (aka Fat Chick From Wilson Phillips) and local Redding crews like Case for Radio all agreed to my naïve negotiation tactics.
There were a lot of fun, memorable, packed shows, but one that still stands out is a lively night that included a set by the hyper Redding band For Pete’s Sake. I loved how the vocalist/guitarist jumped around like a spastic kid as the band shamelessly wore its Violent Femmes and Camper Van Beethoven influences on its collective sleeve (even covering CBV’s cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men”), and I really loved how they used the Cream of Wheat guy in their band logo.
After the set, as I washed my hands in the men’s room, the band’s profusely sweating frontman came in and stepped up to the urinal. I nervously told him how fun I thought his band was, and despite the fact that he was otherwise occupied, he said thanks with such genuine, engaged enthusiasm that I felt as if I’d taken part in the band’s set. I never forgot that moment.
Of course, that guy was one Ken Lovgren, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience his energy, enthusiasm and engaged nature many times over in the years since he and the rest of the Redding dudes-in-bands migrated to Chico. In fact, Chicoans probably know Lovgren better for the bands he played in after arriving here—the early-/mid-’90s powerhouse Deathstar, instrumental fun-makers Antfarm, among many other projects.
This Saturday, Jan. 17, at Café Coda, the now husband/father of two/high-school teacher returns to the stage with a batch of original pop songs and a crew of familiar faces, including fellow For Pete’s Sake dudes Jason Willmon (Arrangement Ghost) and Colby Mancasola (formerly of Knapsack), plus West By Swan’s Dan Greenfield. When I asked him about his new band—The Gentleman Crawlers—Lovgren was naturally excited, and as always, a little self-deprecating: “I’ve been writing songs since since age 14, and by the grace of God, I still sound like a 14-year-old.”
Also playing Saturday, Dr. Becky Sagers, PhD., plus another brand-new Chico crew, Joybook, featuring Erin Lizardo, Rob Smith and Lucas Sarcona.
Feel the undertow?
It’s a new year, and in the wake of the cyclical births (and, likely, a few deaths) of local bands comes the CN&R’s fourth (!) annual celebration of Chico music-making, the Chico Area Music Awards. Though the big awards ceremony/party is more than four months away (April 30, at the El Rey Theatre), the CAMMIES work begins right now.
I know that there are some of you who are worried that yours truly will be mulling over which dirt-twirling, patchouli-dispersing jammers or which pre-programmed metronome robot should be included on their respective genre’s ballot, but you can breathe easy. I have absolutely no say in who gets chosen in any category outside of those I am inherently biased toward. Every member of our selection committee of 60-plus local musicians, promoters, DJs, writers, soundpersons and fans will only select from the genres in which they are interested and knowledgeable. And even in our favored genres, we each get only one vote.
In mid-March, nominees will be announced, and for four weeks there will be weekly CAMMIES pull-outs in the CN&R in conjunction with a dozen energetic genre showcases and, of course, public voting for your favorite local bands. It’s all happening.