Chico Unplugged opening night

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Chico Unplugged is one of the best free music events. The dimly lit bar scene above Madison Bear Garden sets the mood for an evening of soulful acoustics and chicken fingers.

If that isn’t enticing enough, the event showcases local singer/songwriters competing for a free recording opportunity with Chico State’s School of the Arts.

The ambiance was a refreshing change from the typical night out. They audience swayed appreciatively to the live music, hanging out with their friends and enjoying drinks and bar food.

“Tonight was a great night,” said Kyle Bailey, fourth-year recording arts major. “As a winner of Unplugged, it was really cool to come out and see all the new and unique talent.”

For the first show, the winners were Natalie Kovach, Randy Morton and a trio including Sofia Maldonado, Tommy Suwara and Sam Powyszynski. The three winners will compete again Feb. 16.

Singer-songwriter, Natalie Kovach

“Chico Unplugged is a special event because it gives people a chance to showcase their talent which also exposes the city and the school population to the music community,” said Jesse Irwin, contestant.

While the event endorses local talent, it also allows students in the music field to gain real life, experience.

“About 30 of us put on the competition with jobs ranging in Events, A&R, AV, Production, Marketing, Social Media and Public Relations. Chico Unplugged helps us build relations with local Chico musicians too,” said Simonne Sacco, general manager of SOTA Productions.

Chico Unplugged is becoming a bigger, more popular production. It attracts not only crowds and talented musicians, but professional recording opportunities as well.

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Trio group, Soundhouse performs

“A lot of our winners have gone on to do amazing things after performing in Chico Unplugged! Three notable Chico bands all feature musicians that have won Chico Unplugged: Alec Beretz – Mad Tantra, John Klezmer – Klez and Madeleine Mathews – Mawd. Klez and Mawd are both now signed with the label Soundx3 and coming out with EPs in the spring,” Sacco said.

The event is a hub for undiscovered talent yearning to make their voices heard. Come join the movement to support the fostering of a new wave of gifted young musicians.

For those who have not yet experienced the Chico music scene, Thursday is the perfect time to start. People of all ages are welcome at Madison Bear Garden from 7-9 p.m.

Anisha Brady can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.