Three women sit at a table, poking diamond-shaped beads on canvas. It’s sort of like Paint by Numbers but an even more minute process that can take a full day’s work — or longer — to finish an art project. Their artwork varies from Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to the crest from Hogwarts, the U.K.’s school of wizardry from the Harry Potter series.
One of the artists, Donna Chamberlain, tells me that although they haven’t yet sold any art just yet, they’re hoping that with the holiday season near, they’ll sell some soon.
Vendors at Picc-A-Dilly Flea Market sell a variety of items — from laundry detergent probably purchased through the art of extreme couponing to random gems like retro video games or rare action figures.
It’s also a place where you can buy jazz CDs and you can meet climate refugees from Paradise, California, seeking a sense of normalcy after moving to Oregon following the 2018 Camp Fire.
Gerald Jensen, 75, knows his jazz pretty well. Stationed in New York while in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, Jensen says he was able to experience some of jazz’s greatest musicians at nightclubs. He says he remembers seeing Buddy Rich work on his medley of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.
“I got to see Gene Krupa and that was a milestone because it was right before he passed away,” he adds.
Jensen’s $2 CDs may be out of vogue for most people who live in the streaming age, but a physical copy does last forever and doesn’t exist at the whim of a licensing deal with services like Spotify or Amazon. And with a lived experience in jazz, Jensen walks people through his CD selection, able to offer educated suggestions.
He says he asks people if they like a specific musical instrument and what sort of jazz genre they like — is it Big Band, small group, bebop — and then suggests CDs based on their interests.
The CD may never return to its former status as master of the music industry. But over the past decade, vinyl records have nearly become mainstream again. Several vendors at the flea market have thorough collections filled with new releases and vintage copies of vinyl.
At one of the record vendors, I stumble across a 1993 release by drag icon RuPaul. As I look over the record, someone walks by me and asks if I’m going to buy it — at $12, of course I bought it.
This gem came out of a collection curated by Alex and Peggy D’Angelo.
Alex has had a long history in selling records. From Wisconsin, he owned Deaf Ear Records in La Crosse for 25 years. He moved to California, where he made furniture, turning a hobby into a profession. But in 2012, he decided to sell music again and ran Spin Again Records in Chico with Peggy, his wife.
That all changed after the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history, destroyed their storage building that housed tens of thousands of vinyl records and music memorabilia.
Alex tells me that they still have their Chico record store and Peggy still drives down there to pick up records.
But they’re still in recovery, Alex adds.
Peggy says they’re not selling records for the money; it’s for the sense of normalcy.
And Alex agrees.
“Selling these records and meeting these people is something that’s familiar in our lives,” he says. “For me, this is like a taste of my old life, how it was.”
Picc-A-Dilly Flea Market’s remaining 2019 dates are Dec. 1 and 15. The market is held at the Lane County Fairgrounds.