Days of Lore

John LaPado

John LaPado

What a drag it is getting old My nephew Erick is finally at the age where he’s getting into all the cool toys I used to play with—action figures of the Star Wars variety, race tracks, Legos—which makes Christmas more fun for Uncle Mark.

He’s also at the age where his excitement for Christmas this year forced the rest of the family to gather around the tree at … 5:30 in the morning. Made me want to spank his little ass back to bed. (That’s a joke. Stop being so sensitive. Put the phone down.)

The rest of the day was spent napping, drinking, eating and assembling toys. The most fun came when Erick and I were playing with his new Star Wars figures. My nephew, playing the role of Darth Vader, tried to seduce me (C-3PO) to the Dark Side of the force. Threepio responded to Vader’s offer by kicking off a hip-hop dance party. Vader gave in, although my nephew looked very confused.

What a year A true sign you’re getting old is how quickly time passes. It’s been just over a year that I stepped into the lofty shoes of former Arts Editor Jason Cassidy, filling this space with all the pap you can stomach in a week.

It’s definitely been an interesting year (I’ve had to live with the fact that the Old 97’s did a Chili’s baby back ribs commercial). And while it would be easy to make a list of things that stood out in 2006 … I’m frankly burned out on lists. Come on, the whole damned paper is littered with lists this week.

This was a year of comings and goings, starting right here with the exit of three editors in Tom Gascoyne, Josh Indar and Devanie Angel. It certainly shook me up a bit. Of course, Devanie is now editor of the Upstate Business Journal and, with the coming of The Beat, Tom and Josh are dealing first-hand with the harsh reality of having to sell ads.

After six months of silence, Chico State radio station KCSC is up and running again after it moved into its new digs at the Rainbow Warehouse on Fifth Street in November.

Tower Records is now gone after years of financial struggles. It was sad watching the contents of the store dwindle to nothing (they even sold off their CN&R Best Of award plaques … geez). The loss definitely hurts Chico, a town lacking a decent music store. But hey, maybe we’ll get another bar in the process (we know we’re getting a shoe store).

OK, I’ll toot our own horn. The CAMMIES (Chico Area Music Awards) came to Chico this year and sparked a two-month onslaught of showcases that culminated in a mammoth awards show at the Senator Theatre in May.

A handful of beloved local bands also called it quits this year: The Abominable Iron Sloth, deerpen, Birds of Fire, Sleepyhead and Slow Down Theo, again changing the dynamic of local music.

Former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald came to Gold Country Casino in October. Although I was dragged there by someone, I did end up having a great time. I’ll never forget hearing one die-hard fan yell the words, “I love you Michael!” from the third row. Kook.

And Jack Browne, professor emeritus at Chico State from 1957 to 1988, passed away this year at the age of 85.

In remembrance It saddens me to report that local music legend John LaPado died this week after a lengthy battle with abdominal cancer. The news came late Tuesday night (Dec. 26) via a phone call from his wife, local musician and CN&R contributor Christine LaPado, whom I love with all my heart, and who has been about as strong as one can possibly be under such circumstances. I talked to Christine Tuesday afternoon, and she told me it was as if John was fighting to stick around through Christmas and that things had taken a turn for the worse Monday night.

I didn’t know John very well, but I certainly have many fond memories of seeing him perform with the late Danny West and The Asskickers, and more recently at one of his Duffy’s Tavern performances.

In fact, the performance in early November during one of the John LaPado Variety Hours stands out as one of my favorites as John, Christine, Barbara Manning and a slew of other local musicians churned out country classics.

My heart goes out to Christine, their daughter Lydia and the rest of John’s family, friends and extended family of musicians in Chico and beyond. He will be sorely missed.