Don’t spill my crunk juice! Got a letter from a former Wild Oaks Records executive this week (see Letters), who was unhappy with Wild Oak songwriter competitions being No. 10 on my list of the Top 10 things wrong with Chico’s music scene. This got Local Bastard thinking. Instead of counting down this Top 10 like some backwards-counting faux-hipster fool, let’s just jump around the list. This week, skip to No. 2: Thou shalt not be a hater, or, criticism of Chico music is not allowed. If local musicians and music writers continue sticking with the Zenster-B.S. “it’s all good” line to avoid making waves in the small pond, then who’s going to point out the fact that, in a small-time small town like Chico, even “unheard” musicians do not need to be marketed under the banner of a larger entity—even if its a local nonprofit record label—in order to play shows. In the case of Wild Oak, a band’s affiliation doesn’t do anything but combine whatever work the musicians have done with that of the label’s uneven roster of wildly varied styles. This benefits the promoter’s image (see how we help all these different bands!) but is very awkward for the bands and confusing to the consumer, who doesn’t necessarily want to hear a hippy jam on the punk-rock CD he thought he was buying. If the point is to get your name out there, then get yours out there, not the label’s.
Speaking of names… The biggest little (Big) Room in the world, Sierra Nevada Brewery, is getting its name everywhere. Alligator Records (www.alligator.com) blues diva Marcia Ball has just released her first album, Live! Down the Road, which was recorded during her September, 2004, show at the Big Room. Plus, the brewpub is one of 38 American microbreweries visited in 40 days for the documentary American Beer, just released on DVD ($20, www.sixhundredfilms.com).
St. Patrick’s Day letters from Etna. A couple weeks ago, frizzy-headed Chico scenester Chip “Tankgirl” Pekham put the word out about the fanclub/mailing list for his new band Himself (“not the L.A. guy”). Local Bastard signed up and this week received one smiley, muscle-y, big-fisted scuba fighter in the mail, along with a personal letter of thanks for joining up. According to the enclosed newsletter, things are moving a little slow for Chico’s newest rock star (“I’ve been cleaning my room all day in hopes of having space to practice in…”). With swag like this, who cares?! Get your own: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wasting away in Danny Cohen-ville. Another, less frizzy-headed musician, Paradise’s Danny Cohen, is set to release his second CD on Epitaph Records subsidiary Anti. We’re All Gunna Die , the follow-up to 2004’s Dannyland, is set to drop June 7 (www.anti.com). Cohen is joined this time out by locals John LaPado, Dave Hurst, Charles Mohnike and the late Jimmy Borsdorf, as well as regular Tom Waits players Ralph Carney and Danny’s brother Greg Cohen.
One last note. Feather Falls Casino fixture Sam Johnson (pictured above), lead singer and trombonist for local R&B crew Blue Paradise, died last week of heart failure at the age of 64. His family, friends, coworkers and band mates are throwing a big memorial party Sunday, April 17, 6 p.m. in the Feather Falls Showroom.
QUICKLY: Kings vs. Suns, twice; Chico Force (PVHS, 4/16, 7pm); The Brick Testament (www.thebricktestament.com ), Legos with boils, Lego crucifixion, and “God attacks Moses.”