Pre-thankful for Red-headed stranger, artist Web sites and Stagger Lee

Red-headed Stranger returns

Red-headed Stranger returns

Pre-thankful: Since I am one of those jerks who says things like, “You should be thankful for life’s cool stuff all year round, not just on Thanksgiving,” I can’t really stop myself from slipping into spontaneous thankfulness at any given moment.

So, even though there are much, much bigger things I could list being thankful for, I’m going to get into the spirit of spontaneous appreciation and celebrate three fairly random things that I happen to be thankful for right … now!

1. Another visit from the Red-headed Stranger

Daran Goodsell, the master of publicity for Chico Performances at Chico State, called CN&R HQ last week with some very exciting news: Willie Nelson is coming to Laxson Auditorium Wednesday, Jan. 14. Tickets went on sale yesterday (Nov. 19), so cross a couple names off of your holiday gift list (tix are $75!) and shuffle on over to the University Box Office right now and take advantage of this chance to see Willie and band at a venue that isn’t a fairground bandstand or casino showroom.

“Magus” (detail), Dean Hernandez

2. A sub-group composed of three things from the Internet that I’m thankful for If you dig checking out art in Chico, you’ve seen Dean Hernandez. The soft-spoken, curly-headed artist and arts appreciator is a tireless supporter of the local scene, and just as important, he is really, really cool. Not cool as in “He’s a nice guy” (which he happens to be), but cool as in “I think that guy’s a rich artist from New York City.” He is so mysterious.

I digress … Visit his site and check out Hernandez’s gallery of dark (and very cool) smoke prints and transfer prints.

Your local Owl Radio You’ve heard the band names—Zach Zeller, Red Ribbon Brigade, North Cedar—and you might know that the loose collective of Around Town artists corralled by Zeller and company are also on the roster of a busy record label of the same name. But, did you know they are giving away much of the music for free?

Visit the site and click on both the “download” and “releases” tabs to find tunes by Zeller, History Invades, Greener Pastures and more. Also, tune in to the collective’s monthly Owl Radio podcasts at

Skull cake! Two words, put next to one another to make the world a better place: easy cupcakes. Former CN&R associate editor and current independent Web publisher Devanie Angel has created a home for sharing recipes of the delicious snack cakes at one of her many self-started online ventures. As if being easy and being cupcakes weren’t enough of a treat, the featured snacks are also toped with wild frosting designs—each a fun little piece of art.

3. A badass archetype

I found an old mix CD with the original “Wrong ’em Boyo” (not the Clash’s, but the original 1967 version by The Rulers), and it reminded me about how much I love songs about Stagger Lee. This one is great, but there are many versions and hundreds of covers out there. I came across this “Wrong ’em” when reading an old blog post on Largehearted Boy by Derek McCulloch. McCulloch wrote a graphic novel (Stagger Lee) telling the story of Lee Shelton, the man who killed Billy Lyons on Christmas Eve in a Chicago bar near the turn of the century and became the symbol of the ultimate bad-ass mofo.

Check out McCulloh’s personal list of some of the better versions of the original blues tune (from Mississippi John Hurt to Lloyd Price) as well as many modern variations (Nick Cave’s might be the end-all):