Tom Pacheco in the Press:

PACHECO DRAWS FROM REBEL SPRING

DAVID DAWSON

Beat Magazine, Australia, PACHECO DRAWS FROM REBEL SPRING
"Everything's wrong; the winds don't seem so free / there's an unease in the
new century." ­ Rebel Spring, Tom Pacheco


World-weary Woodstock troubadour Tom Pacheco wrote and sang for four decades about famous and infamous characters changing world history. But his own life was decimated when he lost three friends in the World Trade Centre, his mother and then octogenarian father Tony on January 6.

Now, with the release of Pacheco's 14th album, Rebel Spring (Frog's Claw) he's finding solace in song.

"It's been a horrific two years but I'm back on my feet, fit and ready to fight," Pacheco, 58, told High In The Saddle. "I wish I could live in a world where I would never have to write a dark song again. But I'd have to be an ostrich, burying my head in the sand to avoid a nightmarish tornado.

Til the last breath I breathe in the real world I expect to be out there in the barricades fighting and hoping for a rebel spring to bring a resurrection of ideals and dignity of true yearning for freedom deeper than the symbols meant to represent it and a kindness and wisdom of spirit to serve as a beacon to a world tortured by cruelty and deception."

Pacheco, a master storyteller, is the voice of a generation fighting globalisation, greed, pollution, war and sharp spokes of rampant prejudice. He has banished vibrant vignettes about quirky characters living outside the law to a holding pen on this bleak epistle on society's road to ruin. Instead he predicts an artistic uprising against the forces of evil in his title track entrée as he weaves a tapestry littered with victims of false promises. But his heroes are not insurgent militia armed to the teeth with bombs and guns.

"As troubadours sing with flutes and buglers / you can read revolution here today / in the DNA of the notes they play."

Pacheco picks through the fabric of a society being torn apart by personalising the plight of displaced workers in Cheaper In China and Six Bucks An Hour, cannon fodder in God And Flag And Country and protest at fear driven political manipulation in Not In My Name. He details the struggles of Woody Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger, armed with songs of change, in Woody And Jack.

"His weathered old guitar the only weapon he could use / the songs he wrote so easily they came five at a time/ the golden well he drew from, a now a dust storm in his mind / twelve times he was arrested, in a span of just six weeks / for drunkenness and vagrancy / no one knew of his disease." And his fears of a global crisis when the water supply is privatised is lampooned in The Last Drop ­ "exploding populations turned the wetlands into malls / as people drove their Hummers without any shame at all."

He tempers the plight of nursing home prisoners with poignant passion in the punch line of Uncle Joe ­ "I pray when I'm that age / and turning the last page / I'm not trapped in a cage / I drop dead on a stage." Pacheco uses Grandma's Blue Blanket to trace a family thread from Custer's Battle Of The Little Big Horn to his rebirth at Woodstock.

But there is a healthy dose of humour in Frieda's Secret Garden where he reverts to farce to deliver his message on alternate uses of hemp. A wood chopping octogenarian uses the herb superb to ease the pain in her shoulders, legs and back from chopping wood. And she feeds homegrown brownies to a terrorist-chasing FBI agent who "ate them until he was well fed / he started dancing the Macarena / and quoting from the Grateful Dead."

The listener becomes aware of superb production by Jim Weider, a member of The Band who also cut Pacheco songs. Weider plays guitars, dobro and mandolin and harmonises on a disc that features Meg Johnson on harmony, bassist Steve Rust, Bruce Milner's keyboards and Pacheco on guitar and harmonica.

DAVID DAWSON enjoys repeats of Nu Country TV four times weekly on C31 and dreams of a level radio playing field for unsung heroes such as Pacheco. Further info: www.nucountry.com.au. Dawson is reached saddle@alphalink.com.au

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