Down Home In Durham With The Special Consensus


On Tuesday, January 14th, a big time Grammy nominated band came to play for free in the North-state. Where was this great opportunity you missed?

Durham. Yep. Durham, which is probably why you missed it.

The Special Consensus, a ripping fast paced bluegrass band tore up the Mid Valley Baptist Church. Wait… Baptist Church? In Durham? The pieces are making a bit more sense now aren’t they. They packed the house pew to pew, and they had to set up extra seating in the hallway. In such a small community, it isn’t surprising an event like this had such a big draw. Which brings me to wonder… How did a band of this caliber end up in Durham?

It was the workings of the California Bluegrass Association who book shows around the area. The Special Consensus played for free, with CBA passing around a collection plate. All proceeds went directly to the band. No one else took any of the money. Not the Church. Not the CBA. Just the band. As a musician who is undyingly grateful to get pizza when he plays at Monstro’s, that was pretty cool. The fans got to give whatever they felt was right. And there were a lot of $20 bills. These guys have radio play, are probably signed, and were in the same room as a Grammy, so I’m guessing they’re not as strapped for cash as your typical bar act. But the gesture is nice. When was the last time you saw a plate get passed around in a church for anyone but God? (Or were in a church for that matter…)

Speaking of the church, it was actually a really nice venue. The high ceiling gave great acoustics, and no one tried to shove God down my throat. Typically I get one of two reactions around adamant church going folk: Either the “how have you not burst into flames you vile sinner?!?” look, or the “Hey! You kinda look like Jesus!” look. But at Mid Valley Baptist Church, all I got were warm smiles. Except from one guy who caught me eyeing his lady friend. Even as out of place as me and my friends looked and felt, everyone was really receptive to us. The pastor was stoked people from Chico came at all.

By this point you may be wondering when I’m going to start talking about how awesome The Special Consensus were, or where my descriptions of their epic fast paced twangy songs are. I picked up a copy of their latest album, so you’ll have to wait for the review for all that jazz. The real point to take with you from this article is:


There are cool shows that happen in the small towns in the area. I’ve seen shows in Orland, Paradise, Red Bluff, in Tehama County, and now Durham that were all worth the measly drive to get there. Sure, there usually isn’t a whole lot going on in these towns, but that makes something happening a lot bigger of a deal. If more people got rid of the “podunk place” mentality, and were open enough to actually make an effort to check it out, they’d probably find it fun. Plus, if there was a bigger draw from Chico to these events, it’d be better incentive for more things to happen in these towns.

So get out and explore! Give it a try, you might like it.

Tommy Diestel can't remember life without music and writing. He began writing for the Synthesis at the ripe age of 19, and aspires to be a life-long writer.