Bird & Wag World Tour Comes To Cafe Coda

A guitar signed by Les Paul hangs on the wall of Peter Berkow’s house in north Chico. If Les Paul’s name means nothing to you, then your musical education is sorely lacking. Mr. Berkow, on the other hand, is soaked in music: playing it, singing it, married to it (quite literally, since his wife plays and sings alongside him), producing concerts of it for PBS, and performing it whenever his other activities allow him the time. He recorded songs back in the ‘70s that attracted a west-coast underground radio following, and with his band, Bird and Wag, he’s about to launch a “world tour” that comes to Chico’s Café Coda on Sunday, October 6. Bird and Wag will be joined that night by special guest Joe Craven.

“I’ve seen Joe Craven play with some of the greatest musicians around,” Berkow told me last week. “He’s amazing no matter who he’s playing with, from David Grisman to Tommy Emmanuel to Roy Rogers. He brings out the best in other musicians. Bird and Wag is really good, but with Joe along, it’s a notch better.”

Berkow and his band bring a sense of fun to whatever they play, with infectious humor infusing every song. An evening spent with these people is like being with close friends, only funnier.

“My songs all have a sense of humor,” Peter said. “ And Joe has that same sense of humor. It’s a joy to have him as a friend, and to join him onstage.”

Berkow wrote a song called “Burger Love” and a few other tunes that got beaucoup airplay in the late ‘70s. He wrote all the songs the group will be doing next Sunday. “Some people in Chico remember that ‘Burger Love’ song,” he said. “I’m going to sing it for the first time in 30 years.”

Of his wife, Tricia, Berkow said: “I’d known her several years before I fell in love. She was singing ‘Ave Maria’ at a wedding, and hearing her sing moved a friendship toward a romance. She has a beautiful voice. I’d been playing music since I was in my 20s. I sang, but Tricia really helped me find my voice. People like Tricia and Joe keep me growing.”

Peter is a friend of mine, and I like his wife even more, but I’m speaking objectively when I say you’ll have a good time at this concert. Hell, even if you decided you didn’t like Peter, there’s no one on the planet who ain’t gonna like Joe Craven. That’s humanly impossible.

Homegrown talent is often taken for granted. People will drive two hours to hear a mediocre popular act, but they’ll pass on the opportunity to hear a local band play better stuff just minutes away. If you want to break the boundaries of such homegrown reverse-provincialism, you should show up at 265 Humboldt Ave. this coming Sunday night. Tickets are $15, and the show starts at 7:30pm.

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