Keeping our big mouths shut

A look back on the Chico arts scene in 2005 by the artists who made it happen

That went by fast, didn’t it? The year 2005 has come and gone, and while it was another action-packed year in local music, art and theater, there was also the all-too-familiar closing of another all-ages music venue (Fulcrum Records). Yes, it was business as usual in the Chico arts scene.

But this year, instead of us blabbering on about the good and bad of 2005, we here at the CN&R decided that we’d let a few of the artists themselves give their 2 cents-worth. We supplied a list of questions they could choose from, and they answered as many as they could with the one hundred-or-so word limit we gave them:

Do you expect great things in Chico in the year to come (arts/music-wise)? What?

What one arts/music experience affected you most in 2005?

What’s the most pressing concern for the Chico music scene?

What is that makes Chico such a great (or crummy) arts town?

What’s your impression of the city’s efforts to market Chico as an Arts destination (e.g. Artoberfest, Top Ten Art Towns, etc.)?

Who really rocks?

Who was “Big in 2005” for you?

How can Chico create a sustainable all-ages music venue?

Name the king and the queen of the Chico scene for 2005.

So without further ado, here’s the year-end wrap-up in their words.

Bethany Miller
Singer/guitarist songwriter for one-woman band Boy Tiger, professional housecleaner, In-Home Support Services Provider and Scenic Design Major.

Most pressing concern: Having more supportive, all-ages venues-period.

Who really rocks? All of those who try and keep the scene alive in their own way.

Big in 2005: The Chico State Women’s Center for putting on Women’s Bodies Week and Café Flo for having free, all-ages shows.

All-ages venue? I think we could come closer to this by uniting our individual efforts. Both the community and music scene perform at its own level completely separate from each other, and it would be great to see more local music involved in DCBA events, Boys and Girls Club, etc.

King and queen of the scene: Aye Jay Morano and Café Flo.

Christine Fulton
Artist and director of the Crux Artist Collective. (I am moving the crux in February to a deliciously large warehouse close to down town. Please expect nothing, but be prepared for something.)

Chico has the potential. It comes and goes in waves, but it never fully disappears. The superficial qualities of an “art town” are clearly easy to be seen, but what lies beneath the mass public demographic is truly the most valuable. Countless artists begin in this town and I want to see more of them stick around. Art and music, good art/music, is constantly created all around us, but it seems the creators are the only ones supporting each other. Bring the art to the masses in large quantities: I want the visual combined with the music combined with the performance. I want to collaborate.

Chip “Tankgirl” Peckham
Lone member of one-man band Failure Face and that guy at every local music show.

You’re all going to laugh at me, but I’m of the opinion we need to get more Straight Edgers in town. Right now I know of maybe four including myself, and I for one am pretty sick of seeing the best minds of my generation get sloshed and stumble around naked. Naked is cool, but you don’t need alcohol for that. The way I see it, if we’re exhausting ourselves on all the drunk jerks, we’re not putting effort into other scene issues that need to be tackled. That, and no one cares about music in Chico. Except maybe for Sublime or something.

Mary Messina
Indie Rock Soccer Mom / Off Limits music booker

Who really rocks? The Abominable Iron Sloth, The Americas, Aubrey Debauchery, Bear Hunter, Becky Sagers, Birds of Fire, Boy Tiger, Cair Paravel, Cabrini Green, The Deer, Deerpen, Dialecs, Doctor Proper, Electric Pie Band, Faydog, Gorgeous Armada, The Imps, La Dolce Vita, La Fin Du Monde, Machine Green, The Makai, Barbara Manning, MC Oroville, Oubliette Perish, PAWNS, Secret Stolen, Serial Gawkers, The Shankers, West By Swan.

Big in 2005? Squirrel vs. Bear.

King and the queen of the scene: Deryl Northcote is the King of the Scene because my hair looks fucking fabulous. Deryl is also the Queen of the scene, because no one deserves the title more than Claudette.

Jake Sprecher
Woodstock’s Pizza and drummer for La Dolce Vita, Machine Green and The Yule Logs.

Who really rocks? I think La Fin Du Monde is one of the best and most under-appreciated bands in town. They’re experimental and avant garde, but play with a lot of taste. The guitar melodies are beautiful, and I am always impressed with their dual bass player format. And when you have a drummer like Dan Elson playing with grace and precision, there is not much more you can ask for.

Queen of the scene: Boy Tiger.

Pressing concern: Sustaining all-ages music venues.

Big in 2005? I have thoroughly enjoyed Birds Of Fire and The Americas all year long. I think they are both exceptional.

Zeke Rogers
Music enthusiast, musician, underground show listing guru (

How can Chico create a sustainable all-ages music venue? The most difficult aspect of setting up an all-ages venue is paying the bills. To be successful, all available monetary resources will need to be tapped. For example, forming a nonprofit or using the help of an umbrella nonprofit; writing grants could also help pay the bills. The city of Chico gives away $10,000 each year to organizations; wouldn’t it be nice if they helped fund a safe, fun place for kids to go that doesn’t involve drugs and alcohol, i.e. an all-ages music venue? Other possible means include a successful storefront business, band rehearsal time rentals, fund-raising, etc.

Jim Dwyer (The Rev. Junkyard Moondog)
Poet, librarian and arts supporter

What makes Chico a great arts town: The very wide variety of creative folks scraping by with day jobs who enrich the community constantly. Thanks to all the rockers, folkies, bluesmen, rastas, actors, world musicians, poets, jazzers and classicos!

What makes Chico a crummy arts town: The lack of financial support. Poorly attended gigs, cheapskates who will pay for CD burners but try to sneak in to shows free, venues going out of business, wealthy folks who’d rather fill their homes with Thomas Kinkade “paintings of light” and corporate schlock while local visual artists struggle financially. Show them some love, people! And thanks to KZFR for music we’ll never hear anywhere else.

Betty Burns
Actress, director of publicity at Blue Room Theatre

Expect great things in Chico? I always expect great things from the theater scene in Chico. We have a lot of new faces at the Blue Room right now. I think some of these new actors are really going to blossom over the next year and turn in some great performances.

What one arts/music experience affected you most in 2005? Seeing the audience response to The Blue Room’s production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

What is that makes Chico such a great arts town? The number of great performers, both in music and theater, and the passion that those people have for what they do.

Impression of the city’s efforts to market Chico as an Arts destination? I think it could happen. I don’t really know what the city did to encourage folks from out of town to attend events in town. I think if the city could somehow help the Alliance of Chico Theatres advertise productions in papers such as The Sacramento Bee, or San Francisco Chronicle we might actually see more folks coming to town for artistic events.

Who really rocks? John LaPado. Hands down.

King and the queen of the scene: DNA is the king for sure. That guy is everywhere. Even though she recently lost her kingdom, I think Rene Stephens from Fulcrum Records is the queen. She worked so hard to give bands a place to play, and kids a place to go.

Aaron Lyon
Musician, graphic designer and owner of Lyon Books—

Expect great things in Chico? I’m 38, and feel like a lot of downtown entertainment is aimed at the college crowd. I’m tired of rock bands that are just too fucking loud! (Man, am I old!) Further, I’ve been really impressed by the acoustic artists that pass thru, like Bruce Cockburn, Fruit, Ani DiFranco, Shawn Colvin. I have assembled a highly talented project band for 2006. (My singer is the lovely and amazing Gina Tropea, who recently appeared as Yitzhak in Hedwig at the Blue Room.) I will play electric and acoustic guitars and sing. At the end of summer, we will spectacularly disintegrate and move on to new projects. Unless they want to give us a Grammy.