North Valley Productions (NVP) was created sometime mid-January 1997 when Steve Schuman, while helping his community radio friend try to land an interview with Bruce Cockburn, accidentally got routed to Arlo Guthrie’s home number. Yes, this is completely true! While seeking the publicist for Bruce Cockburn, Steve was provided the incorrect phone number by Bruce’s booking agent which turned out to be Arlo’s home phone number. After apologizing to Sarah Lee (Arlo’s daughter) for this very strange and funny meeting over the phone, Steve called Bruce’s agent again and received the correct number. Within the next month or two, Steve noticed an ad in the San Francisco (SF) Chronicle Pink Section mentioning a concert with Arlo at the Fillmore Auditorium. While perusing the ad, Steve noticed that an opening act was not mentioned and then the proverbial light went on. “I wonder if I still have Arlo’s home number?” Well if you have ever seen Steve’s desk, it was a true miracle! The phone number was still there buried under months of piles. Steve called the number again and Sarah Lee picked up the phone and certainly remembered the unusual circumstances of how they originally met. He explained to Sarah Lee that he was helping a friend by doing some bookings. Steve suggested that she and her dad might like to listen to his friend Alice’s latest CD, and possibly she could open up the show in San Francisco. The CD was sent overnight, and Sarah Lee called back a few days later to say she loved the CD and to express her appreciation. She excitedly told Steve how she would share the CD with her father and would mention the opening idea. Sarah Lee spoke with her father. but for some reason having Alice open was not possible. However, when Steve inquired about other potential opening opportunities for Alice, Sarah Lee expressed that her dad was looking for more routing opportunities on the West Coast. When Steve suggested the possibility of having Arlo perform in Chico California, Sarah Lee mentioned that she had never heard of it and was very certain that her dad had never performed there. Steve asked Sarah Lee to suggest some potential dates for February 1997 and told her he would get back to her in a timely manner. Steve then proceeded to call University Public Events (UPE) located on the Chico State Campus and booked an appointment for the following day to chat with Pat Kopp who was program director at the time. During the meeting, Steve proposed the idea of a concert with Arlo in February and Pat asked “1998 or 1999”? Steve said. “No! 1997, next month”. Steve fondly remembers Pat’s laugh and him explaining how the UPE does their bookings 1 or 2 years in advance, and there couldn’t possibly be any room on the calendar. Steve shared with Pat about Arlo’s open calendar tour dates, and Pat double checked his booking calendar. Lo and behold, a very small window of dates opened around February 19th, and Pat approved a co-promotion with North Valley Produce (Steve’s organic produce business) and University Public Events.
On February 18th, 1997, Arlo was given the Key to the City by then Mayor David Guzzetti in what is now known at the Sierra Nevada Taproom & Restaurant. The following day, Arlo and Steve’s friend, Alice Di Micele, performed to a near sold out show at Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium. This highly successful show was put together in less than 30 days.
North Valley Productions is now 16 years old. Our efforts have supported our community by partnering with local non profits to help raise funds for community organizations as well as for local progressive candidates. Recognized by Mayor Scott GruendI in 2005 for Achievement in the Arts, North Valley Productions continues to provide the finest in live music in the North State. Amongst the artists we have worked with are Dwight Yoakam, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Richie Havens, String Cheese Incident, Richard Thompson, Bruce Cockburn, Janis Ian, David Lindley, Greg Brown, Gary Allan, Galactic, Eric Bibb, Gillian Welch, Holly Near, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Hot Tuna, Ani DiFranco, Dark Star Ochestra, Tuck & Patti, Utah Phillips, Waillin’ Jenny’s, and Nickel Creek.
We look forward to bringing you and the North State Community outstanding performances in the years to come.