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Sounds like team spirit: Making Chico a music destination

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Chico State senior Clay Finch plays the electric guitar in a local band. Photo credit: Zach Aucella

Chico thrived and will thrive again as a music hub.

The small city in the middle of cornfields and almond orchards has the power to attract Grammy Award-winning artists. Don’t believe me?

Check out the picture of Nirvana in the ‘90s hanging on the wall of KCSC radio headquarters. The band was interviewed by the student-run radio station right here in Chico.

As of late, the talent of musicians in Chico is underreported while their hard work often goes unrecognized. Yet the town is full of proactive musicians and promoters working together to put Chico back on the map.

“We’re all one big music family here in Chico,” said Sarah West, co-coordinator of Chicoachella. “We’re working toward something bigger than ourselves, something that can really make some waves in the music community across the country.”

People gathered on grass with guests in high spirits facing a homemade stage outside the Delta Psi Delta fraternity house on March 28 for Chicoachella, a full day of live music performed by local musicians that raised more than $1,000 for a local artist charity fund.

“Chicoachella was the product of really dope, hardworking music industry students trying to make a difference in the local music scene,” said David Hollenbeck, guitarist for Second Best, a local band.

And it is not just students. Locals are actively raising awareness of Chico’s eclectic artistry.

I Play in Chico, Get Foxy Productions and The Tackle Box have teamed up to host Chico Breaks the Record, a continuous monthlong show with more than 300 bands signed up to play.

Fifteen days and 12 hours is the standing Guinness World Record for longest multiartist concert. The Chico music community plans to double that.

But April 6, four days into the attempt, an insulator malfunctioned at PG&E’s Table Mountain substation just outside Oroville causing roughly 80,000 customers to lose power, including The Tackle Box. As light in the venue faded and a pair of spare generators failed, local band Sons of Jefferson played on acoustically by window light — a valiant effort.

Chico Breaks the Record will restart for the sake of legitimacy, but the attempt to persevere reinforces the town’s dedication to music.

If that doesn’t, Vibe Tribe Collective will.

“They’re a collection of musicians, fine artists, graphic artists, photographers, videographers (and) glass blowers who put on wildly creative and entertaining shows,” West said. “They’ve got a vision and are really running with it.”

Vibe Tribe is a prominent musical force in Chico. Blending electronic synthesis with live instrumentation, growling into microphones and facing fans up close and personal, the collective pushes its limits as performers and tests comfort zones of followers.

Members can be found rapping at backyard concerts on the weekends, performing in bands at School of the Arts Productions functions, DJing house parties, recording and promoting their own music as well as experimenting with any combination of these performance aspects — always dressed in exquisite fashion, usually with silk.

Events like Chicoachella and Chico Breaks the Record are just the beginning of a movement.

“There are more and more talented artists coming out of the woodwork,” said Kaleb Sievers, Chicoachella co-coordinator. “It’s an all-for-one and one-for-all type of movement.”

These artists care about each other’s work, he added.

“We ultimately want to put Chico back on the map as one of the biggest music hubs in Northern California,” West said.

Creative and collaborative minds will achieve their deserved recognition for the local music scene. It’s only a matter of time.

Miles Inserra can be reached at [email protected] or @m_inserra on Twitter.

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Sounds like team spirit: Making Chico a music destination