Tackling a world record
CN&R contributor jumps on stage and on the bandwagon for month-long concert attempt
When I heard through the grapevine a couple of months back that a group of locals were trying to organize a 30-day, nonstop concert in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest multi-artist concert (by doubling it!), I thought, “I admire their aspiration, but no freakin’ way is that ever even gonna come close to happening.” The logistics of sustaining an around-the-clock concert for 30 days just didn’t seem possible in a community the size of Chico, despite the fact that you can’t throw a rock in this town without it ricocheting off of at least two or three musicians.
My personal doubts notwithstanding, enthusiastic posts by principal “Chico Breaks the Record” organizers—Julian Ruck and his partner, Emily Rose—kept popping up on Facebook as they moved forward with their plans. Then I heard that Richard Peeples, owner of the Tackle Box, a rural-themed bar and grill on the south side of Chico that’s in the same building as a hunting and fishing shop of the same name, was on board and enthused about providing a venue. Suddenly, the buzz among my friends and musical colleagues increased, and one of my own bandmates, Jeffy Bee, frontman of Biggs Roller (for which I play drums), began signing up for time slots, for both himself and his bands, and I thought, “Maybe they’ll actually keep it going for a couple days.”
As I type this, Chico Breaks the Record is nearly two weeks into the effort and close to the 15 days 12 hours mark of the old record. There seems to be no sign of wavering enthusiasm from either musicians or audience members, though maintaining the required 10 “warm bodies” between 2 and 7 a.m. continues to be one of the biggest challenges, and the core group of official volunteers is pretty gassed and in need of fresh bodies to make it to the end of the month without dropping.
Due to obligations out of town, I missed the first few days of the concert. Then, on the morning I got back to Chico, the power went out all over Butte County and it occurred to me that, “Holy crap, this could blow the whole Guinness record thing out of the water!” So I made my way down to the Tackle Box at about 11 a.m. to find the place packed with musicians and music lovers—on a Monday morning! It was a heartening sight. (Note: Even though bands kept playing through the outage, and bystanders used their phones to continue the required video-documenting when the backup generators failed, the organizers officially restarted the clock on April 6 to preserve transparency. They will submit all materials and testimony to Guinness and wait to see if those first four-plus days will be counted.)
I’ve since spent many hours at the Tackle Box and have thoroughly enjoyed the wild and varied blend of styles (of people and music)—from hardcore punks with anarchy-symbol neck tattoos conversing amiably with mustachioed cowboys over a bucket of peanuts to gingham-frocked grandmothers and dreadlocked toddlers dancing jubilantly in front of a blues band—that have converged at this come-one-come-all event.
I played my first set for the record on April 6—the Monday night of the power outage—with Biggs Roller. Two hours of our blend of raucous country and molten rawk (a self-created genre I call barnyard metal) to a crowd that included line-dancers, head-bangers and dirt-twirlers. The sight from the stage could not have been more fun and was an inspiring example of a diverse community uniting harmoniously and joyfully. Biggs Roller hit the stage again a couple days later as Jeffy Bee rousted the troops from bed for a hastily summoned 3-4 a.m. set.
This past Sunday evening I was on stage again, drumming for a “Star 69”-themed set by the Living Karaoke Band, playing hits selected from the Top 100 of 1969. We’ll never be accused of being perfectionists, but judging by the enthusiastic dancers and singers-along, a bit of musical nostalgia delivered with a wink and a grin was able to adequately liven up the place.
Chico Breaks the Record has provided an example and a setting for proving that we really can “all get along,” and have a great time doing it. I recommend checking it out before the month rolls by.