KZFR cures Chico’s Halloween blues with ‘brilliant mayhem’ and ‘dance love’


Shae Pastrana

Low Flying Birds

KZFR-FM threw a special party on Sunday that felt like Chico’s first big Halloween celebration since before COVID-19.

Music-lovers danced the night away at “Smokey Blu Birds Halloween Spooktacular” at Chico Women’s Club. Doug Stein, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of Low Flying Birds, brought everyone together for a “musical fundraiser dance party” with KZFR.

Blü Egyptian Band opened with a cover of Talking Heads’ 1980 album “Remain In Light.” Singer and guitarist Don Jules donned his best impersonation of Talking Heads singer David Byrne, from Byrne’s iconic gray “big suit” to his eccentric dance moves.

Blü Egyptian Band’s original, psychedelic sound usually consists of Caribbean and Latin rhythms. While covering Talking Heads, they put their signature jam-music spin on the songs while maintaining the vintage sound of the ‘80s, including a synthesizer.

Blü Egyptian Band with special guest Glenn Tucker on keyboard. Photo by Ken Pordes.

Having started at restaurants last year, Blü Egyptian Band announced to the crowd that the Women’s Club was their first venue to ever perform at.

Next, Smokey The Groove performed their first show in Chico in two years. “I’m really excited to be playing in our hometown,” said singer and saxophonist Kevin Killion. “We feel like the salmon, smelling our way back [home].”

Smokey The Groove switched the night from the opening ‘80s flashback to their own unique style. If jazz found a home in funk while hiking through the country mountains, that experience would result in this band’s sound.

Lastly, Low Flying Birds ended the night with an upbeat Americana-rock-bluegrass jam so ecstatic that it was hard for me to sleep afterward. Hopefully, the rest of the crowd went home as pumped as I was.

“It was so great to be back doing what we love with all the people we love, especially on Halloween night, a legendary Chico holiday,” Stein said.

Stein’s been playing in Chico for over 30 years and said Halloween performances are a special tradition.

Jules at work. Photo by Ken Pordes.

“We love Chico, we love Chico State and a big Bird shout-out to all who made Halloween night such a magical musical menagerie of brilliant mayhem and dance love!” Stein said.

Stein was right about what he said — brilliant mayhem and dance love painted the night. Loving laughter provided music with ambience as I danced with a clown, cat and Xena the Warrior Princess. For some, the space was for the long-awaited Halloween spirit that’s been pent-up from lockdown. 

“There was so much built up tension that everyone needed to release,” said KZFR general manager Grant Parks about the event. Except for last year, KZFR’s annual Halloween parties go back at least five years. 

Parks said that along with bands experiencing hardships last year, those involved with the show heavily anticipated Halloween’s arrival. He was grateful that “a lot of networks that existed before COVID-19 still existed after, and they got stronger.” He added that bands used the pandemic as an opportunity to explore their creativity.

“We think we’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel,” Parks said.

Blü Egyptian Band will be performing with special guests at Union in Oroville on Nov. 13. Their next show at the Women’s Club will be a mashup tribute to “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Pulp Fiction” on New Year’s Eve. Check their website, Instagram and Facebook for more details.

Smokey The Groove is working on their third album and are ready to tour through California. Tour information is available on their Facebook page.

Low Flying Birds are working on their first studio-recorded album, which they aim for completion by Christmas. Stein said they’re excited to play more shows, “local and beyond.” They can be reached on Facebook.

Their upcoming New Year’s Eve show will be at a new venue opening on Third and Main Street called OM On The Range, a sister company to OM Foods on Broadway Street. The business’s opening night on Nov. 11 will feature a jazz ensemble. 

Owner Amanda Bossheart said the new organic eatery will expand their current menu and feature food, live music, and beer and kombucha on tap. Business hours will be Thursdays and Fridays from 4-9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to around 9 p.m.

KZFR plans for more events in the near future and welcomes Chico State students to get involved with the station.

Shae Pastrana can be reached at [email protected] and @Pineyfolk on Twitter.