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Chico: Chico State, Mose Allison and Almonds

Chico … Chico … Chico … we fell in love with Chico. If it wasn’t so darn hot in the summer, we would probably move here. We love its laid back charm and distinctive college vibe. Cal State University is located adjacent to the downtown area. The campus grounds are lush, green and encompass an arboretum and Big Chico Creek. We meandered along pathways admiring the stately buildings, gardens, public art, towering trees, and views of the creek. We were surprised to see a designated Free Speech area ... reminding us of Berkeley in the 60s. By the huge number of bike racks at the front entrance, it is apparent that bicycling is the preferred form of transportation.

The downtown is lively and vital and along with the University defines the character of the city. The streets are lined with restored 19th century buildings that house an array of bookstores, cafes, restaurants, antique stores, art galleries, and museums … including the national Yo-Yo museum.

Murals and public art are on most downtown street corners. We especially enjoyed visiting the historic Collier hardware store, the Chico Museum housed in the old Carnegie Library, the 1914 Post Office and Bustolini’s … an Italian deli house in an old brick building that was once a brewery with a house of ill repute upstairs.

After learning that the Mose Allison concert at the Sierra Nevada Brewery was sold out, we decided not to be deterred. On the night of the concert we went to the brewery and, along with several other desperate souls, held up signs proclaiming "Will work for tickets." People laughed but kept a firm grip on their tickets as they entered.

Luckily, after taking a head count, management took mercy on us and let us in. As we entered, two guys, who we learned were professors at Chico State, offered to share their table with us. We were just 20 yards from the stage and had a great view of Mose as he played his Kurzweil PC88. He performed mostly original material and was backed up by two remarkable musicians playing bass and drums. Boy did we get our moneys worth! The first set was almost two hours long and then when we thought he was done for the evening, he announced they would take a short break and come back for a second set. For a guy who is 75 or so you couldn't tell. He displayed a lot of energy and hadn't lost a step with his keyboard virtuosity. Too bad we forgot to bring our camera!

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