CAMMIES: Week four
Jazz, Punk nominees
When asked about playing at the CAMMIES Jazz Showcase, stand-up bassist and tenor saxophonist Greg D’Augelli simply said he could guest with whichever of the other groups on the bill would have him. While that might at first read seem like a bold statement for a player to assume he could just play with anybody, D’Augelli made the offer because he has at one time or another played with everyone on the bill. And the Chico State music instructor still does play with many of them at gigs at all the usual Chico jazz spots—Johnnie’s Restaurant, Café Coda and the DownLo.
As its name might suggest, the Chico Jazz Collective embodies that collaborative nature of the Chico jazz scene. The group, led by drummer Robert Delgardo, mostly plays "music from the classic jazz of the ’20s and ’30s, up through hard bop and today’s jazz" during weekly sessions at the DownLo on Thursday nights. The rotating roster features a who’s-who of regularly gigging musicians and Chico State music faculty, including bassists Nathan Furgason, Kaytlin Hansen, Jonathan Stoyanoff and D’Augelli; guitarists Eric Peter and Woody Loudermilk; keyboardists Shigemi Minetaka, Art Davis and Adam Ferris; saxophonists Noah Villagomez, Gabriel Sakuma and D’Augelli; trumpeters Rocky Winslow and Chris Navarrette; and trombonists Juan Aguilar and Sam Graden.
Of course, the Chico jazz scene offers more than just its musical camaraderie. The players are some of the most respected and accomplished musicians in town. In fact, two of the nominees have been honored with CAMMIES Lifetime Achievement Awards for their years of devotion to local music—D’Augelli in 2010, and in 2008, guitarist Charlie Robinson. Robinson has played jazz (and nearly every other style of) guitar in this area since moving to Chico in 1951. The 77-year-old local guitar legend has retired from playing his regular gig at CARD’s Tuesday Evening Dance, though he does still play live three or four times a month and continues to share his vast guitar knowledge with new generations of guitar players in private lessons.
Like Robinson, and many local jazz players, vocalist Holly Taylor teaches music as much as she plays it. In fact, her fun annual vocal-student recital is a much-anticipated local-music event. Performing all over Northern California for the past 15 years, Taylor is still constantly gigging, not only singing smooth interpretations of jazz standards at local cafés and restaurants, but also drumming and singing for her popular bar-rock band Hot Flash.
The Groove Diggers add several aces to the stacked deck in the jazz category. Guitarist Larry Peterson, bassist (and CN&R GreenWays/Healthlines editor) Christine G.K. LaPado and keyboardist Jim Schmidt all have won CAMMIES awards for playing their respective instruments. Founded in the ’90s by Peterson, the Groove Diggers now include the vocal stylings of powerful singer Sarah Spencer and, since the recent death of long-time drummer Bill Toliver, Casey Schmidt and Lew Langworthy have been sitting in on the skins. The Groove Diggers now perform most often at Left Coast Pizza, and even have released a CD of a live recording there called, appropriately, Live at Left Coast.
For better or worse, punk’s public image has come a long way in the last 20-some-odd years. Though nothing short of a way of life for devotees since it all started, to the general populace it remained fodder for Halloween costumes and episodes of Donahue. Small-town punks from Chico and Redding had to drive to Sacramento for now-common commodities like Dead Kennedys albums, and a good show could entail a longer roadtrip.
Nowadays, everyone from Good Charlotte to the Jonas Brothers cites the Ramones as an influence, and “punk” is a marketing term used to hock leopard-print lunchboxes and glitter lip gloss. Fortunately, most local punks have a healthy sense of history and understand punk is about substance, not hairstyles. Plus, a five-minute walk to Monstros Pizza is generally much more pleasant than a long drive to a former meat-packing plant in Modesto.
Josh and Robin Indar of Severance Package know a bit about how punk has evolved, since they spent the better part of the ’90s playing as eminent East Bay band Black Fork. Despite a recent lineup change (with TranSexPistols, etc., drummer Mike Erpino stepping into the voluminous shoes of local legend Steve Bragg), “Everything’s going gangbusters,” says Josh. The band has an upcoming LP on Berkeley’s Mess Me Up Records and might tour with its release; definite plans include lots of local shows this summer and a jaunt to Portland in June.
Zabaleen’s MySpace page includes a handy social-studies lesson on the Zabaleen of Cairo, Egypt, a trash-picking, recycle-happy sect of squatting Orthodox Copts and suitable soul brothers of this band, who self describe their sound as the “finest dead cop PUNK ROCK trash-punk band found anywhere in the world.” Their live shows pack all the fun and fury of a pile of trash soaked in gas and lit aflame.
Fight Music just returned from a three-week tour zigzagging across the Western states to its terminus in Dallas in support of their recently released fourth album, Never Go Full Retard, which was recorded in frontman Logan Keyser’s apartment. “We drove all the way from El Paso,” said a road-weary Keyser the morning the three-piece returned, “and it’s funny ’cuz all we could talk about the whole way back was getting home to write number five.” Fight Music’s translation of punk is reminiscent of good ’90s pop-punk à la Jawbreaker, Propaghandi, Face to Face, etc.
The Baghdad Batteries’ take on punk rock combines the pop infusion of Fight Music with Zabaleen’s love of filth. Influences cited include submarines, anal sedation, Hot Pockets and post-apocalyptic movies—all very fun things beloved by a very fun band with a changing lineup that often includes members of other local notables spending sabbatical here.
Last year’s CAMMIES catapulted Brass Hysteria! from young underdogs to reigning champions. The eight-piece spent its reign the same as it did coming out of the gates, playing energetic, genre-smashing ska/rockabilly/ punk to fervent crowds around town. An album recorded at Origami Lounge and titled Angels’ Trumpets & Devils’ Trombones is due to drop soon, and the troupe plans to tromp on down to San Diego soon as well. They better have a big van.