Heavy hitters land on Chico stages in off-season

Chico = center of the universe

Chico = center of the universe

Did anyone else notice?
Chico State’s winter break is almost over, and looking back at the historically dead month, I noticed something. It wasn’t really dead. In addition to the regular local entertainment and holiday festivities, Chico featured some pretty huge names.

Over the month or so between the fall and spring semesters our little city hosted (or will soon host): one of the biggest rap stars in the world, Snoop Dogg, at the Senator Theatre; probably the two most legendary country musicians still alive (maybe Loretta Lynn should be mentioned in the same breath, and even Merle Haggard—who’s actually coming to Colusa Casino on Feb. 4), Willie Nelson and George Jones at Laxson Auditorium and Gold Country Casino, respectively; proto-punk pioneer Jonathan Richman (tonight, Jan. 22) at Duffy’s Tavern; and the world-renowned S.F. Symphony Orchestra (also tonight, Jan. 22) at Laxson.

Three more notices
One: Please join Arts DEVO in sending out props to the Chico artists whose work was picked to be part of Sacramento’s Crocker Museum’s California Biennial competitive group exhibition. Six Chico-based artists are currently showing (through Feb. 6, at the museum’s temporary home during remodeling, Tsakopoulos Library Galleria): Janice Porter, Rebecca Emmons, Sandi Escobar, Hanna Hechler, Tom Patton and Maxwell Stolkin.

Two: Tommy the musical is coming soon to the Blue Room, and Bear Hunter (the Tommy house band) is priming the pump with a live karaoke fund-raiser at Duffy’s Fri., Jan. 30, at 9 p.m. You have one week to work on your chops: “That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball!”

Three: Calling all performers. The Downtown Chico Business Association is now accepting applications from bands for the 2009 Friday Night Concert series and performers for the Thursday Nigh Market. Visit for applications, or call 345-6500 for more info.

Praise song for the day
My favorite part of President Obama’s inaugural address was how he framed his message of hope. It wasn’t a blind hope that he or anyone else in government is going to make everything better for us, but rather it was a hope tied to a belief in our country’s citizens’ capacity for meeting our challenges. Referencing George Washington’s Revolutionary War-time speech, Obama made the call to “let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.”

Time for you to work

Photo By marc nozell

Actually, my favorite part of the inauguration probably was Elizabeth Alexander’s poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” which she read after the president’s speech. In honor of hope (and in honor of Chico poet Thelma Behrens’ suggestion for me to include more poetry in the paper), here’s an excerpt from Alexander’s inauguration poem:

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp—praise song for walking forward in that light.