The release in 1998 of Tom Pacheco's first totally solo album, the 2xCD set 'Bare Bones & Barbed Wire', marked a renaissance for the American singer/songwriter following a period of five years when his albums were only released in Scandinavia. 1998 saw two separate European tours by Pacheco (Britain twice, Italy and Norway, with more countries to follow soon), and 1999 will find him consolidating this European following in support of a second 2xCD set, 'The Lost American Songwriter (Bare Bones II)', on which he worked with producer/multi-instrumentalist Jim Weider (of The Band).
Born in 1946 in Massachusetts, Tom is the oldest of nine children raised by Tony Pacheco, a jazz musician and artist. Tom's chosen medium of musical expression, like his father's, became the guitar: "I had my first lesson from my father at the age of ten, but he never pushed music at me". After graduation from Dean Junior College, the 17 year old Tom took off for New York, specifically Greenwich Village. By day, he attended Hofstra University, by night, he was a regular performer at venues such as The Night Owl, the Cafés Wha and Au Go Go and The Bitter End.
In 1965 he formed a "psychedelic folk/rock" band, The Ragamuffins, who released two obscure singles on the Seville label. In 1969, Euphoria, his next group, made an album for the MGM subsidiary, Heritage: "Four folk singers, two guys and two girls. Sharon Alexander was in that band". Pacheco and Alexander, who had met at university, went on to work as a duo. Spotted while performing at The Gaslight, they were subsequently signed by CBS label chief, Clive Davis. "We were real broke, maybe had $5 between us. We took a subway to the CBS offices, did seven of my songs, and walked away with a record contract. We had $3 left". 'Pacheco & Alexander', released in 1971, was the duo's only LP, and they subsequently broke up. Three years later, Jefferson Starship included Tom's 'All Fly Away' on their gold 'Dragon Fly' album].
Pacheco first met legendary producer George 'Shadow' Morton in 1966, while busking. After he signed to RCA Victor during 1975, Jacob Solman, Tom's manager, suggested that Pacheco and Morton should work together. They cemented an enduring personal and professional relationship on a three day train ride across America. Cut in Los Angeles and respectively entitled 'Swallowed Up In The Great American Heartland' and 'The Outsider', the LPs surfaced at either end of 1976, and are classics. But few at the time agreed: "I did some gigs, and then became so frustrated by the music business that I decided to leave it. I settled in Mount Trumper, ten miles outside Woodstock, eventually assembled a band, and we played roadhouses for years. Songwriters didn't have a prayer of getting signed between '77 and '81".
During the first half of the Eighties, Tom moved to Austin, Texas, returned briefly to New York and then resettled in Woodstock, before being tempted to try his luck in Nashville during 1986/87: "They told me they wanted positive uptempo songs. Nothing else". Unsettled, Pacheco's next move was radical, taking him across the Atlantic to Dublin, where he signed with a local independent label, Round Tower. Between 1989 and 1997, Tom Pacheco released seven albums including a duo recording, the last three of which have not been released in the UK - yet.
Around two dozen of the songs featured on 'BB&BW' previously appeared (performed with other musicians) on 'Eagle In The Rain' , 'Sunflowers & Scarecrows' , 'Tales From The Red Lake' , 'Big Storm Comin'' [1993, which was cut in Oslo, Norway, with Steinar Albrigtsen] and finally 'Luck Of Angels' . Using only guitar and voice, these new renditions bring a "stripped down" perspective to the work of one of America's greatest [folk] songwriters. Subsequent to 'Luck Of Angels', Polygram (Norway) also released 'Bluefields' in 1995, and 'Woodstock Winter' (1997, on which he was assisted by various members of The Band, including Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Jim Weider - this album also became Pacheco's first US release for 20 years).
Ecstatic critical reaction and a series of outstanding gigs promoting 'Bare Bones & Barbed Wire' led to Road Goes On Forever Records inviting Pacheco to make another double album in a similar vein, and 'The Lost American Songwriter' emerged in the spring of 1999, with another European tour to follow.
|Tom Pacheco - Album Discography|
|1971||Pacheco & Alexander||CBS|
|1976||Swallowed Up In The Great American Heartland||RCA|
|1989||Eagle In The Rain||Round Tower|
|1991||Sunflowers & Scarecrows||Round Tower|
|1992||Tales From The Red Lake||Round Tower|
|1993||Big Storm Comin' (with Steinar Albrigtsen)||Round Tower|
|1994||Luck Of Angels||Polygram Norway|
|1998||Bare Bones & Barbed Wire||Road Goes On Forever|
|1999||The Lost American Songwriter (Bare Bones II)||Road Goes On Forever|