Bitter Betty, Beauty, local bands and the Buena Vista Social Club

The flavor that lasts, Dawlings
Long before Arts DEVO; way before Mark Lore’s Days of Lore or that Local Bastard; and even before C. Owsley Rain’s Culture Vulture, Rev. Gus Wagster’s Cheesespread, DNA’s Genetic Strands and Butch Dugger’s Funhouse, there was simply Bitter Betty.

Every one of us who has followed is indebted to her trailblazing column wherein the playfully irreverent Ms. Betty would dish gossip on local scene-makers and shine a light on the fun that was to be had on the well-worn blocks between the old Juanita’s on Second Street and Duffy’s Tavern on Fourth.

She actually wasn’t really all that bitter. She was sarcastic, maybe cranky sometimes, but it wasn’t fueled by bitterness. She just seemed to really care. She was someone who was interested in Chico’s scene, was game for trying anything and was not afraid to call bullshit. And she was the first place everyone turned when the paper came out.

Bitter Betty was actually former CN&R Associate Editor Elizabeth Kieszkowski, and after leaving Chico in 1996, she moved to Hawaii and has been there ever since. This weekend Kieszkowski is returning for a visit, and you can meet her for yourself Saturday, Feb. 21, at 8:30 p.m., at the very Bitter Betty venue, the Towne Lounge, for Bitter Betty’s Big Night Out. There will be performances by some classic Chico rockers, including Barbara Manning, Jack Dammit’s The Fat Stickees and many others.

Speaking of The Lorax
Did you know that the Days of Lore is still here? It actually never left. From his Beaver State outpost, Mark Lore has been beaming out an online ’ziney version of his column. There might be an occasional KISS or Old 97’s rumination and/or update from time to time, but much more often there is tons of insight into new music and interviews with the people who make it. Check out this week’s Q&A with the Mother Hips’ Tim Bluhm at

Ooh, pretty
It’s not always easy to explain why a painting, a song or a TV show does it for us. We try to do it every week here, and it’s often a struggle to express our guts (yummy!) in a way that translates for the readers’ guts. Sometimes, we want to just say, “It rocks! You’ll really like it!” and call it good.

Philosopher and Princeton professor Alexander Nehamas will probably explain things a lot better than I have (he’ll at least talk a lot longer) when he comes to Chico State (Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m., Ayres 106) to give his talk “The Place of Beauty” as part of the Humanities Center’s theme for the school-year, Regarding Beauty .

New, other new and more new
It’s time for a new feature here in Arts DEVO: Local Band CD-Release Announcements. There’s one—more than one—every week! I feel especially terrible about neglecting to mention (for weeks now) that one of the 49 Chico bands in which my friend and CN&R staff writer Christine LaPado plays upright bass, the Groove Diggers, has released a live recording, Left Coast Live, that can be picked up at Lyon Books ($12). And during my morning MySpacing I tripped over the free downloads of new releases by Around Town Collective artists Fera and Boy Elephant—a.k.a. Michael Strishak and Rick Barnett, respectively. Download these two glorious weird-folk mope mixes at and

In anticipation of a probable space crunch next week, here’s the next cluster of CD-releases: Chico’s favorite acousti-duo MaMuse unveils its first release at Chico Women’s Club Friday, Feb. 27; on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the TiON warehouse solo rapper DMJ drops It’s Like ClockWork; and there’s a two-fer EP-release by Erin Lizardo-led indie trio Joybook and surfing birds Mammoth Torta squeezing into the train car at Empire Coffee Friday, Feb. 27.

Am I forgetting anyone?

And the winners are …
Not so fast. The members of the CAMMIES selection committee have turned in their picks, and the votes are being tallied right now! Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2009 CAMMIES nominees.

Feb. 24, at Laxson

One DEVOtion:
It has to be emphasized somewhere in this paper that Buena Vista Social Club stud Juan de Marcos González and his Afro-Cuban All Stars are mamboing their way into Laxson Auditorium Tuesday, Feb. 24. It might be the most impressive act on the Chico Performances calendar this school year, and that’s saying something.