Culture vulture

What’s that sound?
The streets of Chico are alive with music. We’ve got punk, indie, Celtic, acoustic, reggae, electronic, bluegrass, experimental, funk, blues, hard rock, metal, jazz, hip-hop, world, folk, jam, country, R&B and, last but far from least, just plain rock. That’s an admirable show of musical diversity for a backwater cowtown untouched by the freeway system.

Many of Chico’s bands are fresh to the scene and/or don’t come out to play all that often, but when they do it’s well worth your time to explore the venturesome realms of music offered by such artists as Shrew, a post-modern rock outfit that blends high art, heavy but ornately psychedelic rock and a unique vocal delivery with lyrics that effectively meld cosmic and political concerns. Shrew has a show at The Maltese April 19. Cult Vult says check it out. Keep your eyes open for a profile of Shrew in an upcoming issue of the CN&R. It’s a band worth knowing about.

And speaking of artists with uniquely psychedelic points of view and styles of presentation, the amazing Danny Cohen has a show at Café Coda April 15. Cohen’s songs are the musical equivalent of Van Gogh paintings or H. P. Lovecraft stories. Baroque and bizarre, yet inextricably linked to the troublesome wonders of our mortal existence, Cohen songs such as “The Prophecy,” which builds on a folkish guitar rhythm and a solemn but beautiful melody, appeal to our hopes, fears and dreams: “How can I stay in my room, knowing the hopeless are doomed be consumed by the Dark One?” the singer asks, revealing a deeply shrouded optimism beneath the gloomy sentiment. And the guy has a sense of humor, too. A weird sense of humor. Go to his record label’s artist Web site at and sample a few blogs, then click on the link to the photos (by local photographer Stephanie Bird). You’ll get the picture. And once you do, check out the show—Café Coda should be an ideal setting for Cohen’s music.

Whatever style of music you prefer—Culture Vulture’s changes several times a day—you can find a high-grade version of it somewhere in Chico. Keep your ears and minds open and you’ll find what you like.

Park view
The lovely I. Daphne St. Brie, self and our pal Technobabbler Morgan Paar decided to spend a few hours in Upper Bidwell over the weekend. Crossing the creek by way of the jumble of boulders at Bear Hole, we hiked up the south side of the creek and made our way across the disconcertingly dry meadows that decorate the plain above the cliffs that shelter the creek. The perimeters of the marshes that collect the runoff from the canyon walls were alive with tiny yellow and purple wildflowers, and, where shaded by the oaks, the grass was glowing with rich new life. But vast expanses of usually luxuriant mossy rock surfaces were dry and dusky instead of velvety iridescent green, and much of the hike was over last year’s dry grasses with little sign of new spring growth. We really need some April showers to help the park put on its full spring face.