DEREK CHANEY • BE HOPEFUL IN BAKERSFIELD
This local musician has lived in many different places, but Bakersfield is his favorite. Read why Derek loves to call Bakersfield home and how he balances work life, family + music.
Derek Chaney • local musician, Lonely Avenue
My name is Derek Chaney. I’ve lived in Bakersfield for almost 20 years, but those years haven’t been consecutive. I was born in Texarkana, a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. I’ve also lived in San Diego, a place called Cherry Valley between San Bernardino and Palm Springs, Concord in the East Bay area and Eureka, way up in the Northwest corner of the state.
Ultimately, I decided to make Bakersfield my home because of the people here. If you add up the three times I’ve lived in Bakersfield, it’s the longest I’ve been anywhere. I wanted to be in the place where I had some semblance of roots. I still had a lot of good friends from high school who were thriving in Bakersfield, and they welcomed me back. It felt like a homecoming.
I work for Braun Electric Company as a media specialist during the day, and I’m also a member of the local band Lonely Avenue. Our music is in the ballpark of Americana. Apple Music would probably call us “Singer/Songwriter.”
I come from a musical family. I started playing in church at around 13. One of the guys I was playing with in the church bands was Jon Ranger. Jon and I remained best friends, and, when I came back to town in 2009, he asked me to join his unnamed music project with Ryan Fergon, another friend from high school. That project became Lonely Avenue.
Three or four times a year, we host Garden Party Concerts in the spacious backyard of some friends of ours. They are totally free, and anyone who wants to come is welcome. People bring blankets, chairs, food and drinks and hang out while we play music for a couple of hours. It has a very communal vibe. It’s my favorite thing we do right now.
One of the things I love about Bakersfield is the diversity of cultures. I love that I get to experience the world alongside so many different worldviews all in one place.
I also love that the cost of living, combined with the healthy economy, means that it’s possible to achieve a work-life balance here that isn’t as attainable in more expensive areas. I have a job that’s connected to the oil and gas industry, and I have enough margin in my life that I can pursue my passions at night and on the weekends. I never feel like I’m spread too thin.
The thing that inspires me most about living in Bakersfield is that there are so many people here who really believe that they can engineer the reality that they want for themselves and their community. People have a growth mindset. They believe that their capabilities, their skills, their personality and their intellect can all be enhanced by focused and concentrated effort. That’s this town to me.