Chico band Spark N Cinder to perform at Friday Market |

Chico band Spark N Cinder to perform at Friday Market

Twenty-eight years is a long time to remain in a band unless you’re percussionist Jerry Morano, who co-founded Spark N Cinder in Chico with one of his closest friends, drummer/songwriter Jimmy Fay.

Childhood friendships have partly held together the dance band, which plays rock, reggae, funk and Latin originals.

“Jimmy and I are two of the original members who started in 1976. We’re both from Jersey City (N.J.),” Morano said. “I’m 53. I’ve known him since I was 15 and he was 13. We’re still friends; my son and his son have a rap group in Chico.”

Spark N Cinder has opened for some headliners, including Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Sons of Champlin, Sly and Robbie and Steel Pulse.

That the group’s name has not managed to become a household name nationwide, though, is OK as far as Morano is concerned.

“Put it this way – we are Chico’s local band. It’s like me and Jimmy are from New Jersey. We had our kids here; the town of Chico has been gracious to supporting us, coming to our gigs the last 28 years,” Morano said.

Morano relishes playing almost weekly in his hometown area. His group plays at Grass Valley’s street festival Friday from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

“I have a day job,” Morano explained. “I didn’t have a job until I was 30. Music was all I did. Then I had three kids, and I was on the road all the time, three or four months at a time in sleazy motels, staying just at one level, but we were working. But I’d rather play in Chico and have a job.”

His day job is running the recycling program at the Work Training Center for the Handicapped.

All but one of the other band members also have day jobs; two are public school teachers, and another is a hospital technician. The one exception is guitarist Larry Peterson, who Morano said “is all music. He plays with George Souza.”

Souza is a popular Nevada County flamenco and jazz musician who plays weekly in Grass Valley, Truckee and the Lake Tahoe area.

“George used to be in our band. He was our trumpet player for six months in 1980 or 1981,” Morano said. “George was too big for us; he’s a bandleader. He sat in with us when we played at Cooper’s in July. He’s an old friend.”

Spark N Cinder was in Nevada City, according to Morano, 15 years ago, eight years ago and now this summer.

“We’re coming back to your area. We’re happy to be back in the foothills. Our thing is we’re a local band,” Morano reiterated. “That’s been our bread and butter.”


The Grass Valley Friday Market runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Mill and Main streets. The street festival includes a certified farmer’s market and merchandise and food vendors. Admission is free.

Call Grizzly Hill Productions at 265-9495 or the Grass Valley Downtown Association at 272-8315 for any questions about the Grass Valley Friday Market.

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