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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Music ordinance affects local bands

A portrait of My Lanta, local rock trio. Photo credit: Matthew Manfredi

A white Fender Jaguar leans on the couch between Jac Derner and myself; three of the six tuning pegs are broken and wrapped in red duct tape.

Derner, bass player for local rock trio My Lanta, played a show with his band mates on West Eighth Street the night before. The basement of the house was filled with people filtering in and out of the subterranean venue—all checking out local music from My Lanta, Team Skins and a touring two-piece from Los Angeles called Justus Proffit.

“There’s a special place in my heart for house shows,” said Mike Justice, front-man and guitar player for My Lanta. “It just seems to be more intimate with the audience.”

Mike Justice playing at 1078 Gallery. Photo Courtesy of Nicholas Dreher

Live music has always been a flagship in Chico’s artistic community whether it is located at traditional downtown venues or house stages scattered in the streets and avenues.

Though, things have grown noticeably quiet these past few years. This is a vast contrast to when Chico State was known as the No. 2 party school in the nation and guitar amplifiers could be heard from across town.

Nick Justice, Mike’s brother and My Lanta drummer, opens the door, walks into the room and settles into our conversation about the Chico music scene, something that seems like it is here to stay–no matter how often it is talked about at City Hall meetings.

On Dec. 15 of last year, the City Council proposed a new “Unruly Gathering Ordinance” that would “further enhance the ability of Chico police officers to effectively respond to noise complaints.” In other words, amplified music existing in places other than designated venues would warrant citations and even, possibly, arrests.

After dozens of local musicians and supporters gathered in City Hall to voice their opinion on the matter, Mayor Sorensen made the motion to not consider amplified music or DJs as elements that “would constitute unruly gatherings.”

The Mayor’s decision seemed to provide a sigh of relief as the City Council moved onto other local government matters.

What do you guys like most about the Chico music scene?

Jac Derner: I loved watching it evolve from what it is now from literally like two years ago. It seems like it is exploding lately.

Nick Justice: There used to be so much metal but the scene is more diverse now. People are playing all different kinds of music at different kinds of venues.

Mike Justice: Yeah, it is so much more diverse. The scene is exploding right now. It seems like there are new bands and new music coming out everyday. In this town, people have the opportunity to play whatever they want.

Do you guys like playing house shows or at traditional venues?

JD: I prefer house shows, honestly. It feels like people are there more for the music than just getting drunk in a bar.

MJ: There’s a special place in my heart for house shows. It just seems to be more intimate with the audience.

My Lanta performing at 1078. Photo Courtesy of Natasha Todd

Where do you think the music scene is going to be in the next few years?

JD: It’s going to take off to the point where it becomes a music destination for touring bands to come through. That, or everyone is going to get sick of each other and each other’s music. It has happened before.

NJ: There are just a lot of musicians who are coming to Chico from other areas just for the music scene. That is one of my favorite things [about the Chico music scene]. That really makes a difference.

MJ: Well, I feel like we’re right in the middle of everything. Everyone traveling to Seattle and Portland from places like Los Angeles is going to stop in Chico. The band that we played with last night, they’re from LA and traveling up to Eugene. They put on a great show.

Be sure to check out My Lanta on March 26 at The Maltese with Surrounded By Giants and Pinnacles, or click here for upcoming Facebook events and additional shows.

Matthew Manfredi can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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