Sean Hayes and The Barr Brothers: Soul with a Story

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Sean Hayes, a master of folk and soul will be bringing his unique musical brand back to Chico again for a not-to-be-missed performance at one of Chico’s newest venues, the Origami Recording Lounge.  Hayes is an accomplished veteran – six full length albums and non-stop touring have lead to a reputation that belongs to only the best and most dedicated of musicians.  His November 5th performance here, in Chico, will be the last stop on this latest tour.

Joining the stage with Hayes will be Montreal’s The Barr Brothers, an acclaimed acoustic, folksy blues band that’s set apart from its contemporaries through their perfectly pleasant melodies that create a flawless, ace sound that gives off that feeling of home, no matter where you might be.  This show will be a meeting of musical titans that should not be missed by fans of folk (or by music fans in general) for any reason, whatsoever.

In our eager anticipation for the show, Synthesis got a chance to talk to Sean Hayes about the upcoming performance, this latest tour and his future projects to share with our dedicated readers and those excited Hayes fans.

I understand you have performed in Chico many times before.  What do you like about performing here?  What draws you back to this town each tour?

I always get good people coming out to hear the music.  I’ve filled the Women’s Center multiple times, each turning into great little dance parties.  The Women’s Center is just an awesome spot to play to.  I also did a benefit there once.  Every time so far that I’ve come to Chico I’ve played at the Women’s center – it’s been there three or four times now.

Note:  This visit Sean Hayes will not be performing at the Women’s Center – he will instead be playing his kick-ass set at the Origami Lounge on Cherry Street.

How has the tour been so far?

It’s been great.  We’ve been all over the place.  Spent a week in the North-East.  Hit New York.  Did the whole West Coast thing, from San Diego to Vancouver and all the way back down.  The Chico performance will be at the tail end – but we are already moving towards starting another tour soon.

What do you have planned for your show?  Which albums will be focused on?  Any surprises?

There will be some surprises in new songs added into the mix that are not yet on any releases.  And a few covers here and there. Plus, add plenty of songs that are from all over the map; music from all of our records.  We will be hitting a little of everything.

Describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard you before.  What genre would you classify yourself as?  What are some of your influences?

I’d say folk with a little soul along for the ride.  It’s very lyrical and rounded. It has an emotional base and a singer emphasis.  There’s some croon in there.  And there’s even a little that you can move to.  It’s soul music with a story.

What does the future hold for you?  Any albums in the works?  More tours?

I’ve got a couple of things happening.  Going to be releasing an outtakes record –  that will be available November 29th.  It will be called Outtakes and Alternatives.  It will be full of stuff that never made it onto any records, plenty of old songs that have just been sitting around and some alternative versions of songs that made it onto records.  So I’ve been busy.  Also, I just finished putting together a collection of songs for a new record that will be coming out in the Spring.

Sean Hayes and The Barr Brothers will be getting their folk on at The Origami Lounge (708 Cherry St.) November 5th.  The doors will open at 8PM with music starting at 9PM.  Tickets are $20 at the door or $18 in advance (advance tickets are available at Bustolini’s, 800 Broadway, or online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/203088).  Get your tickets now – you do not want to miss out on this sure to be stellar performance.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Square Enix

Video Game

The first Deus Ex revolutionized so much in the video games sphere that almost every shooter/rpg since can attribute much it’s role-playing and storytelling elements directly to the Eidos Interactive game.  Human Revolution marks the third volume in the series and includes more of the great story intrigue, backstabbing, conspiracy theory extravaganza that has become synonymous with the Deus Ex trademark.  Set 25 years before the first Deus Ex, you play as Adam Jensen, a recently augmented security guard, who, due to a violent “terrorist” attack, has become one of the earliest humans to experience first-hand the body modifying augmentations that have become so common place in the setting by the time the earlier titles in the series had taken place.  The game deals with all sorts of ethical dilemmas in its complicated plot that the title almost transcends what is commonly thought of as a video game.  It’s deep, moving, philosophically groundbreaking and most importantly, it’s amazingly fun.

Fall Television

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Fall Seasons

Television

Pretty Damn Awesome

It’s one of the best times of year again.  It’s that time when many of our favorite and best T.V. shows start their newest seasons.  Everything from half-hour comedies to hour-long HBO dramas are beginning their most recent intervals, and none have disappointed yet.  First up on our fall television premiers was everyone’s favorite biker drama Sons of Anarchy, which aired its first episode on September 6th.  Jax, Clay and the gang all got released back to Charming only to meet a new sheriff – something that is sure to cause a lot of changes in one of T.V.’s most exciting shows’ fourth season.  Next up was It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (September 15th), where we got to see a new side to Mac and the potential for new, and most certainly hilarious, situations regarding the characters 50 pound weight gain.  Then we had Modern Family, which kicked off its third season on September 21st with a spectacular set of back to back episodes featuring a dude ranch and a hint on who may soon be the show’s newest family member.   The following day saw the biggest set of new launches as NBC’s flagship comedy Thursdays had its excellent kick off.  Community returns with a new season at Greendale and some development regarding Pierce Hawthorns villainous streak that potentiated throughout most of last season.  The Office’s hour-long premier introduced Dunder Miflin’s replacement for Micheal, Robert California (portrayed by the excellent James Spader).  So many shows have begun their newest seasons that I have run out of room, so be sure to check your TV Guide to catch all your favorites.

Electro Sunset II – Report

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Electro Sunset II

Wild Oak Music Group

Just two weekends ago Wild Oak had its second Electro Sunset show – a night of electronic music of all genres, dancing and excellent atmosphere at the 1078 Gallery on Broadway.  The first show, occurring last March, was such a hit that their just had to be a second.  It was Wild Oak Records’, Chico States own music record company, first show of the year and it certainly was an excellent kick off to what will surely be another stellar year for the music group full of budding musicians, music producers and event organizers.

Electro Sunset II really showed the amount of effort that gets put into these shows by the Chico State students involved.  It was a complete success, one with great energy and excitement that was potentiated by the excellent people involved.  All the individuals in charge, of which I think were only students (at least all the people I saw in Wild Oak staff shirts were of student age; a testament to the quality of effort these students all put forth to get a show of this size and success off the ground) were having as much fun as the attendees.  Wild Oak staffers and electronic music lovers alike all took to the dance floor throughout the night with no reservation.

The show had three separate DJ sets – each as good as the last. Up first was local DJ 8zero5, and though the gallery was a little empty at the time, 8zero5’s set was enough to get everyone there on the dance floor.  In DJ 8zero5’s short existence (so far – he was the newest DJ at the event) he has become known for an impeccable use of sampling throughout his sets.  If Electro Sunset II was any indication, DJ 8zero5’s existence won’t stay short long and is far from over.

Up next was SteelFx who took the stage for a stellar set of dub and hip hop.  SteelFx was the only set of the night that had more than one DJ.  SteelFx is a duo comprised of local DJ’s Steele and Fox.  This duo has been performing throughout the Chico and other nearby cities’ music scenes since 2009.  They have even travelled as far as the Bay Area to perform, receiving rave reviews everywhere they go.  Saturday was no exception.  By this time of the event the venue was beginning to get pretty packed and SteelFx had no trouble getting the crowd moving.

Headlining the night was DJ No Request, a staple of the Chico electronic music scene for some time now.  Many recognized him from his performances with local electronic music group Team No Sleep and as one half of the duo Phunk Phenomenon.  His unique brand of funky house created a perfect set for the Electro Sunset atmosphere.  As with all the night’s other performers, No Request filled the floor and channeled excellent positive energy throughout.

By the end of the night, the second Electro Sunset had lived up to the standard set by its first edition six months ago.  Electro Sunset II was the perfect introduction to a new season and promising year for Wild Oak Records and their upcoming events and productions.

Battle Beard Productions’ Back to School Show

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

It’s hard to miss the influx of residents that occurs every second week of August here in Chico.  Streets go from being practically empty to where it takes 20 minutes just to drive from my apartment to the Synthesis office.  Suddenly Chico becomes littered (both figuratively and literally) with beer cans and lost college students trying to find excitement in an unfamiliar town.  Well, if you are one of those students (or aren’t; it makes no matter), mark your calendars and make your way to the 1078 Gallery this Saturday, September 3rd for an all-ages funk show/dance party Back to School Show coordinated by (Battle Beard Productions) and featuring bands comprised of your own students and peers.  It’s a healthy alternative to those increasingly lame house parties and a great way to get your foot in the door of Chico’s stellar local music scene.  Besides, there will be food and drinks (for the 21 and over crowd), so by attending you won’t be missing out on any precious opportunities to get wasted.

A student, member of Battle Beard Productions and local musician the multitalented Josh Hegg gave Synthesis the low down on this not-to-be-missed event.

What artists will be performing?

Well, Jeff Pershing Band, Swamp Zen – both of which are local staples of jam/funkdom.  Then The Dynamics and SpeakEasy, comprised entirely of students.  We chose to have both local and student musicians to represent a sort of synergy of the two different groups coming together for the greater good of art.

What highlights are going to make this event a must-attend?
Barbeque (with vegetarian substitutes) and booze.  It’s not a sit-there-and-watch-this-band type of show.  I want people to let their hair down.  It’s going to be a high energy show with high energy people.  It’ll be a celebration of all things Chico.  Expect dancing and a convergence of the community and students.  We want this to be a hybrid of local musical talent with the party atmosphere.

Battle Beard Productions is a new group here in Chico.  What are you guys all about and what does the future hold for the crew?

Well, we are comprised mostly of Clouds on Strings members.  Matt Franklin, Mike Boone and I, after the success of our Prog Out With Your Hog Out show last spring, got super inspired and wanted to put on more shows.  It was a new way for us to get more involved in the music scene here.  We have a big metal show coming up down in Sacramento.  The “Hella Metal” show featuring metal acts from all over the North State.  Plus… we all have beards.

This funky Back to School show will be happening Saturday, September 3rd at local music venue the 1078 Gallery.  It’s got the usual Chico music show arrangement – doors open at 8 and the cover charge is a measly 5 dollars.  As an opportunity for students and locals to get involved in Chico’s incredible music scene, there really isn’t anything better.  Plus, there ARE drinks.

Queensryche

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Ever since it’s creation in the early 1981, Queensryche has been one of the strongest and most popular metal bands in existence.  Their album sales have shattered records, they constantly tour year after year and they have released more tracks than almost any of their contemporaries.  Now, 20 years later, Queensryche is still as insane and powerful as ever.  Their newest tour, in support of their latest album Dedicated to Chaos, still crowd’s theaters and sells out in a way that most bands never will.  This Saturday, September 10th, at our own Senator Theater, Queensryche will make a stop in Chico on their latest tour to smash skulls and melt faces in the most epic of fashions.

The band has assured us that though this tour is largely focused on promoting their newest album, they are “dedicated to melding the new with the old” to appease fans of all generations.  That means you will get to rock out to classics like “Silent Lucidity” and “If I Were King” while experiencing the band’s latest tracks for your first time in concert (or maybe your first time, period).  While many consider their newest album a departure from their classics, including the band themselves, as Queensryche guitarist Micheal Wilton pointed out that “It’s definitely more alternative,” their will be still be plenty of everything for everyone. You can certainly expect the best from this group of veteran heavy metal kings.

Queensryche has always been known for putting on stellar shows.  From the beginning, one of their biggest draws was their live performance.  They seem to attract metal fans from every corner of every place they perform too, and exist as one of the great classic mainstays in the genre.  Their Dedicated to Chaos tour has been no exception – each concert has been extremely well received by fans and critics alike, full of metal staples like fog machines, light shows and a general air of over-the-top loudness.

As the tour progresses, the band will continue to work on new content.  Wilton’s side project Wratchet Head is continuing at full speed, and if you found the newest Queensryche departure wasn’t up top your tastes, then you can surely expect the next Wratchet Head release to fill that empty classic metal hole.  According to Wilton, he and his band mates in Wratchet Head “have about eight to ten completed songs right now,” so you can expect that release soon.  At the same time, Queensryche is already hard at work on their follow-up record to Dedicated to Chaos, having been writing new material ever since Dedicated to Chaos’ release.

Queensryche’s Saturday, September 10th concert at the Senator is gearing up to be a must-see for local metal heads.  So mark your calendars and find yourself a ticket (which are available online at Ticketweb, reachable through Queensryche’s website, for $27.50).  With Queensryche’s excellent reputation and undeniable popularity, those tickets could sell out before the concert date, so make sure to get yours soon.

Northern California Blues Festival

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Northern California’s premier blues music festival is right around the corner.  Located in Auburn, CA, the Northern Caliornia Blues Festival is showcases both popular and up and coming blues artists over the 5th and 6th of August.  This family-friendly festival is about to start its biggest year yet, with more musicians to perform and an additional day of festivities.  Producer of the Northern California Blues Festival Jason Haxton was kind enough to talk to with the Synthesis on why this year’s festival is gearing up to be the most exciting yet.

This is the 11th Northern California Blues Festival.  Do you guys have anything special planned that’s different from years previous?

We’ve added the Friday night show to the all day Saturday event, which we are very excited about. Friday night will feature all of the vendors and excitement of Saturday.

What are some of your biggest names on the bill this year?  What and who should we be excited about (and why)?

We have Janis Joplin’s original band, Big Brother & The Holding Company on Friday night.  I was browsing them on YouTube the other day and found myself utterly amazed by the energy this band puts out… and after all of these years, too! The female vocal parts are expertly sung and the band can not only take you back, but take you on one heckuva journey, too.  Saturday features the return of Dennis Jones for his 2nd straight NorCal Blues Fest appearance.  Dennis and his trio are high-energy and Hendrix-esque, a whole lot of fun to experience.  Following Dennis is Carolyn Wonderland.  The festival world is buzzing about Carolyn.  I describe her as Janis Joplin meets Bonnie Raitt, though Carolyn certainly has a style all her own.  Carolyn’s performance may just well be the most talked about by festival goers after the festival.  I think Auburn is going to fall in love with her.  Headlining the Saturday show is the amazing Kenny Neal.  Kenny is living in CA now, but originally from Louisiana.  Kenny is bringing his Louisana band for this performance, which will be a special treat for all of us.  Even those who have seen Kenny Neal perform in the region are unlikely to have seen the kind of show he is bringing to the festival!  We are going to be in Swamp Blues heaven as he wraps up this year’s festival.

What should first-time goers expect from this festival?

A family friendly experience, for sure. 11 different food vendors.  Plenty of arts and crafts and other non-food vendors.  Real margaritas.  Craft beer from Auburn Alehouse.  Free kids zone on Saturday. Meet and greet sessions with the bands for VIP ticket holders. And also a great natural amphitheater where you can enjoy the best Blues around.

The Northern California Blues Festival will be happening in Auburn on Friday, August 5th and Saturday the 6th. Tickets for the weekend are 55$ in advance or 60$ at the gate (12 and under tickets are 12$/15$ and VIP tickets are 150$/180$). For more information on the festival and tickets, visit the festival’s website at norcalbluesfest.com.

Skylake Ranch

October 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Pomegranates have long been called a superfood; it’s packed full of vitamins and antioxidants that perform wonders by promoting health through lowering the risk of heart disease to cancer and even the common cold.  Skylake Ranch here in Chico has been on a mission for nearly three years to bring this superfood to farmers markets and residents all throughout California through their creation of unique and delicious products.  These products range from the obvious freshly harvested pomegranates (when in season), to juices and jellies and all the way to marinade, grill sauces and grenadine.

Thanks to their creative products, business for Skylake Ranch has really been taking off.  While many businesses are having trouble staying afloat, Skylake Ranch has only seen expansion since their beginnings.  Their pomegranates and products are sold at farmers markets all throughout California, from local cities and towns including almost every Chico farmers market to Oroville, Marysville, Yuba City and more to more remote locations like the northern coastline, Bay Area and as far south as Los Angeles.

For anyone who may not be able to catch one of Skylake Ranch’s many farmers’ market booths, the business also has a healthy online component (skylakeranch.net).  Every product they sell at markets is available on the website – and depending on which market you frequent, there may be products on the website that were not even available at their booth.  But perhaps the best way to purchase these pomegranate wares are out at Skylake Ranch itself; during pomegranate season they open the ranch to visitors who can enjoy the natural setting and purchase fresh pomegranates and pomegranate goods from the orchard they grow at.  Keep your eye open for Skylake Ranch on your next visit to a market – this homegrown business is not one to be missed.

True Blood Season 4

July 2, 2011 - Leave a Response

True Blood

Season 4

HBO

Everyone’s favorite vampire romp is back.  This summer True Blood enters its fourth season, leaving everyone wondering how creator Alan Ball and the rest are going to top their spectacular third season.  It’s hard to imagine a villain more sinister than the Machiavellian Russel Edgington (played by Dennis O’Hare).  But then the wonderful Fiona Shaw got added to the cast (you may best know her as Harry’s awful Aunt Petunia) as the leader of the newest coven of witches in Bon Temps.  She specializes in necromancy – control of the undead – which could spell trouble for our favorite undead heroes.  One can only hope Shaw will fill the shoes left by O’Hare.  This season viewers will be sure to learn more about Sookie Stackhouse’s fae origins along with those werepanthers from up the road.  If you have HBO, tune in on Sundays to catch TV’s sexiest vampire escapade.

Released (fourth season air date):  6/26/11

Steam Summer Camp Sale

June 30, 2011 - Leave a Response

Steam Summer Camp Sale

Steam

For those who may have not heard of Steam, it is an online store (created and run by Half Life and Portal developers Valve) where gamers can purchase and download PC games.  It’s the biggest of its kind, almost outselling traditional stores like GameStop and Best Buy thanks to its ease of use and plethora of discounts.  Twice a year Steam holds a massive sale for almost every item in their catalogue (once in winter, once in summer).  Time has come again for the summer sale (this years is called Steam Summer Camp Sale) and by the time you read this it will be well into its seasonal clearance.  But don’t worry, it’s far from over.  If you are a PC gamer you likely already have Steam downloaded, so jump on and see what game has its price slashed today.  Now is the time to grab those expensive games you haven’t had the money for.

Dates:  6/30/2011 to 7/10/2011

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