Tom Pacheco in the Press:

FolkWax Review of Bloodlines

by Arthur Wood

In early 2005, Tom Pacheco's beloved father and lifelong guitar teacher, Tony, passed away. Later that year one of his younger brothers, Paul, bassist in Pacheco's early musical career band The Raggamuffins, survived a long, almost terminal battle with illness. Soon after completing the sessions for this recording Pacheco was rushed into the hospital with a ruptured appendix. A time-served road warrior, poet, and protester of the old school, within weeks of the operation Tom Pacheco undertook his annual U.K. concert tour. 

If you've gathered from the foregoing that the theme pursued on Bloodlines is family, then you'd be totally on the money. The album was co-produced by Vern Miller (Pacheco's brother-in-law, one-time bassist, and alumni of Barry Tashian's 1960s band The Remains) and brother Paul (who plays lead guitar on this album). Also contributing, respectively, harmony vocal and keyboards are Pacheco's Texas-based sister Patty (for whom he wrote "Swan With A Broken Wing") and her husband Tony Sanders. Tom Pacheco is of the finest human beings and it's been my privilege to meet and get to know him. It's no big surprise that friends as well family have been warmly embraced in this project. On harmony vocals there's Roland Moussa, the editor of the Woodstock Times with whom Pacheco co-wrote "The Indian Prayer"; Brian Hollander, picks some Dobro; while Paul's girlfriend Marian Tortorella plays dulcimer. Oh yes, as if further confirmation was required that creativity courses through the Pacheco clan's veins, there's a Sue Pacheco Miller painting on the CD case inner tray. 

True friendship isn't affected by time and distance. To me each new Tom Pacheco album is akin to receiving a welcome letter, the contents of which reflect on the latest news both local and international. During the decade 1987-1997, Tom Pacheco lived in Dublin, Ireland. Another decade has almost elapsed since his return to Woodstock in upstate New York and "What Happened To The America I Used To Know?," the opening cut on Bloodlines, is pretty much self-explanatory. Incorporating reference to "the grassy knoll," the world's increasingly apparent environmental woes, the gradual disappearance of "mom-and-pop America," and the "homeland" theft of personal liberty, it amounts to a cautionary discourse on America circa 2006. Track Two, "I Love The Stars Too Much (To Ever Be Afraid of The Night)," is a personal declaration to live one's life with vigour and valour. 

The Moroccan-born narrator in the eerie, surely-this-happens-in-some-other-universe "My Name Is Hamir" is mysteriously snatched one night, bundled into a white airplane, hobbled by chains, and now wears an orange boiler suit in a place they call Guantanamo. I doubt it's coincidental that "When You're Back On Your Ranch In Texas" immediately follows. Disillusioned by the rise and rise of his nations manipulative military industrial complex, towards the close of Bloodlines, "We Are The People" amounts to a call for change - "One day we'll rise up everywhere/And take back what is ours." 

Turning to personal issues Pacheco delivers the bluesy love song "I Guess I'm Lucky," while "Every cloud crumbles, tyrants all tumble/The thunder rumbles and then it's gone/I had forgot this, soaked in a sadness/That paralysed me for so long" launches "Part Of It All," a lyrically optimistic and melodic number that Pacheco must have wrote for his brother Paul. The latter song stands as a sequel to the earlier "Hang On Little Brother" and the closing "Treasure all of my friends, lift them up when they fall/Make them feel once again, that they're part of it all" is the killer couplet in this new creation. Recalling the information I imparted at the outset, "Dad's Gone Now" is a truly heartfelt farewell: "No more birthday cards, Christmas cards or Father's Day cards to post." "I Am With You Still," which follows with "In melodies and precious memories/I am with you still" could be interpreted as a reply to "Dad's Gone Now." 

The refrain of "Bloodlines" runs to "I've been with you a long, long time/You make this old nickel shine/You keep my horizons all in line/Our histories are so entwined/It's almost like we both share the same bloodlines." While this is undoubtedly a song written for Pacheco's beloved Annie, her contribution is "Good Vibes" according to the CD liner, an appealing universal aspect has also been woven into this lyric. Recalling the 1960s in "The Trees" Pacheco employs personification and at the outset enquires "Where are the young trees now?" and adds "Who'll fight the battles that need to be fought/Pass on the lessons that need to be taught" and concludes "Who will carry on if there's no one around/As the trees of the sixties begin to fall down." Melodically, the self-explanatory album closer "Believe In Yourself" is another Blues-based number. 

Arthur Wood is a founding editor of FolkWax 



Tom Pacheco 
Tom Pacheco 
One of America's Great Songwriting Treasures

Tom Pacheco was born on November 4, 1946, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the eldest of Jazz musician Tony Pacheco's nine children. At the age of ten, Tony began tutoring Tom on classical and Jazz guitars. In his early teens Tom listened to the music of Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, but a couple of years later fell under the spell of the music of Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie. On weekends he'd head to Club 47 in Boston to watch his songwriting heroes perform. In his late teens Pacheco studied at Dean Junior College in Franklin, Massachusetts, before moving on to Hofstra University on Long Island, New York. While attending Hofstra, Tom lived in Greenwich Village and in time began performing at The Night Owl Café, The Cafe Wha, The Au Go Go, and The Bitter End. 

Tom formed the Ragamuffins during the mid-sixties and the band recorded two singles for the Seville label. The quintet consisted of Tom's brother Paul (bass), his cousin Larry Vera (drums), plus Sharon Alexander (vocals) - whom Tom had first met at Dean, and Kenny Pine (guitar). John Hall, who later found fame with Orleans, was a band member for a time. Pacheco's next band, Euphoria, released a self-titled album in 1969. The line-up consisted of, Roger and Wendy Beckett, plus Tom and Sharon. Ostensibly an acoustic Folk quartet the label later added string to the tracks, much to Tom's disgust. When Euphoria broke up, Sharon and Tom worked as a duo and recorded the John Hall-produced Pacheco & Alexander [1971] for CBS. The album failed commercially and the pair drifted apart. 

Jefferson Starship included Tom's "All Fly Away," on Dragonfly [1974]. Tom's manager Jacob Solman suggested that George "Shadow" Morton should produce Tom's debut solo album. Morton had produced Solman acts, Richie Havens and Janis Ian. Swallowed Up In The Great American Heartland [1976] on the RCA label was followed by The Outsider [1976], also produced by Morton. In recent years, Pacheco & Alexander and Swallowed Up In The Great American Heartland have been reissued in Japan on CD. 

Disillusioned by the music business Tom moved to Mount Tremper, near Woodstock New York, following the release of his second RCA album. Putting a band together, Tom played New York state roadhouses for a number of years. Invited to Austin, Texas, in January 1982 by a musician pal, Mandy Mercier, Tom lived there for the next two years. Tom performed in local clubs with his band, The Hellhounds. Enticed north once more, to New York, by the prospect of a recording deal with CBS, it eventually fell through and Tom moved back to Woodstock where he formed another version of The Hellhounds and started hitting the Route 29 roadhouses once again. The spring of 1986 saw Tom move to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked as a songwriter for the ensuing sixteen months, following which he decided upon a radical move. On September 23, 1987, Tom Pacheco arrived in Dublin, Eire. 

In Dublin Pacheco was spotted by Clive Hudson, the former head of Warner Brothers Records in Europe, who was in the process of setting up a label of his own. Tom's Round Tower debut, Eagle In The Rain [1989], produced by Arty McGlynn, was followed by two more solo albums for Round Tower. In support of those albums Pacheco toured the U.K. and Europe on a regular basis and in Scandinavia formed a friendship with Steinar Albrigtsen, a Norwegian singer. Albrigtsen's albums, from Bound To Wander [1992] onward, regularly featured Tom's songs. In 1993, Round Tower issued the duo album Big Storm Comin'. By the late eighties, the Tom had penned or co-written for Steinar, three #1 Norwegian singles, two that reached #2 and one #3. 

Sonet, a subsidiary of Polygram issued Tom's Luck Of Angels [1994], which was recorded in Nashville. Bluefields [1995] was recorded in Oslo, and produced by Steinar Albrigtsen and Sverre Erik Henriksen. Early the following year, Tom found himself back in Woodstock recording Woodstock Winter [1996] for Mercury at Levon Helm's Studio with producer Jim Weider. The Band backed Tom. Some eighteen months later Pacheco became a Woodstock resident again. Prior to departing Dublin, late one night Tom entered Dublin's Sun Studios and recorded the 2-CD part retrospective collection, Bare Bones & Barbed Wire [1997], released by the UK label Road Goes On Forever. 

The Band album Jubilation, [1998] featured two contributions by Pacheco. Tom's Bare Bones II - The Lost American Songwriter [1999], produced by Weider, was another 2-CD partial retrospective. Nobodies [2000] became the second Tom and Steinar duo album. Tom's latest solo album, There Was A Time, featuring all new material, was issued by Appleseed in the late summer of 2002. Tom's songs consistently focus upon historic events and environmental issues. Early 2004 saw the appearance of two new recordings by Pacheco. The Long Walk, an electric band album, was cut with four Scandinavian musicians and featured nine Tom Pacheco compositions. A fifteen-song collection of (in the main) previously unrecorded songs, and the third episode in Pacheco's acoustic Bare Bones series, was titled Year Of The Big Wind appeared almost concurrently. In early 2005 Tom's father and first guitar teacher Tony passed away. In late April 2005 Pacheco released his latest recording of original material, Rebel Spring, on his own label, Frog's Claw and towards the end of that year Volume IV in the Bare Bones series of recordings 13 Stones was released. 

Produced by Paul Pacheco and Vern Miller (Tom Pacheco's bass playing brother in law, formerly of Barry & The Remains), Bloodlines, a twelve-song collection with strong family links, appeared on Frogs Claw during late 2006 in time for Tom Pacheco's annual U.K. tour. Last Stand, a 1986 live recording featuring Pacheco and The Hellhounds recorded at Uncle Willy's in Kingston, New York, appeared earlier that year. 

Solo and duo only: Turn Away From The Storm [1965]; Pacheco & Alexander with Sharon Alexander reissued on CD in 2001 [1971]; Swallowed In The Great American Heartland reissued on CD in 2000 [1976]; The Outsider reissued on CD in 2005 [1976]; Eagle In The Rain [1989]; Sunflowers & Scarecrows [1991]; Tales >From The Red Lake [1992]; Big Storm Comin' with Steinar Albrigtsen [1993]; Luck of Angels [1994]; Bluefields [1995]; Woodstock Winter [1996]; Bare Bones & Barbed Wire [1997];Bare Bones II - The Lost American Songwriter [1999]; The Lost American Songwriter [1999]; Nobodies with Steinar Albrigtsen [2000]; There Was A Time [2002]; Bare Bones III - Year Of The Big Wind [2004]; Rebel Spring [2005]; Bare Bones IV: 13 Stones [2005]; Last Stand historic live recording with The Hellhounds [2006]; Bloodlines [2006] 
With Euphoria: Euphoria reissued on CD in Korea during 2004 [1969]:
With The Long Walk: The Long Walk [2004]. 

Arthur Wood 

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