There Was a Time
Veteran singer-songwriter Tom Pacheco wears his world on his sleeve. In a career spanning more than 35 years, over a dozen albums and 2500 original songs, Pacheco has addressed social and political issues, depicted a gallery of real and imagined characters from the past, present and future, and created a living treasury of unforgettable images. On 'There Was a Time,' Tom's twelfth solo album and first American release in six years, he adds still more memorable people, places and events to his songbook, but it's a darker world that he describes. Despite an avowed dislike of nostalgia, the death of his mother, serious illness of his father, and loss of three friends in the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11 plunged Pacheco into a period of uncertainty and reflection about the passing of time - many of the songs on 'There Was a Time' take stock of what's vanished from Tom's and our world and what needs to be recalled and reclaimed. The songs on this CD express anger, irony and regret at corporate greed ('What About Us'), the betrayal or failure of the American Dream ('There Was a Time,' 'Indian Prayer,' 'What We Left Behind,' 'Saint Christopher and the Cornfield'), and personal loss ('Provincetown,' 'If I Could Come Back'). But, as Tom writes in the liner notes, 'there are still glimmerings of hope and spiritual resurrection' in these and other songs. He honors the brave and inspirational chance-takers among us - 'Butterfly' is a tribute to Julia 'Butterfly' Hill, who took up residence in a California redwood tree to save the surrounding forest from a lumber company; 'Heroes' thanks our professional guardians and their unpaid everyday counterparts called to greatness by emergencies such as 9/11, and the CD ends with the exhortation and challenge, 'You Will Never Be Afraid Again.' Pacheco's stoic, understated baritone and guitar playing are embedded in a warm musical backdrop provided by noted producer/bassist Scott Petito, guitarist Jim Weider and Rick Bell (both latter-day members of The Band), renowned fiddler Jay Ungar, Norwegian country music star and longtime Pacheco collaborator Steinar Albrigtsen on guitar, and special guest Pete Seeger on banjo. This is a folk album in the best sense, transcending time even while describing the topical and painting mental pictures that will not fade. Bio: He's been recording since 1965. Some of his 2500+ original songs have been covered by Jefferson Starship, Richie Havens, The Band, and Rick Danko. He's written a series of Number 1 hits for Norwegian country star Steinar Albrigtsen. He was dubbed 'one of America's greatest songwriting treasures' by the Folkwax e-zine, and England's fRoots (Folk Roots) magazine raved, 'If anyone deserves to be mentioned in the same hushed tones of reverence as John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Tom Russell, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle, it is he.' But in a lengthy recent feature article about him, Dirty Linen magazine all too aptly described Tom Pacheco as 'The Lost American Songwriter.' In great part, Tom's refusal to play kowtow to record label politics and to tailor his music to industry fads has led to his status as 'The Outsider' (ironically, the title of his 1976 RCA album, which was so hamstrung by the label's censorship that he left the music business for more than a year). Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1946, Pacheco was learning to play guitar by the time he was ten. Before he was 20, Tom had released the first of his twelve solo records and had moved to Greenwich Village, where he performed as a solo act before forming The Ragamuffins, a folk-rock group that cut two singles and frequently opened for Jimmy James (later Jimi Hendrix) in Village clubs. When The Ragamuffins broke up, Tom and fellow bandmember Sharon Alexander formed Euphoria, an acoustic quartet whose recordings were mutilated by record company overdubs - Tom's first of many encounters with the industry's corporate priorities. After cutting a duo album for Columbia, Tom and Sharon separated, and Tom resumed his solo career, taught guitar and occasionally toured upstate New York and New England. In 1974, the Jefferson Starship recorded Tom's 'All Fly Away' for their Dragonfly album. That same year, Richie Havens recorded 'Indian Prayer,' cowritten by Tom and Comanche performer Roland Moussaa, for his 'Mixed Bag II' album. Halfway through the '70s, Pacheco signed a recording contract with RCA, which released two of his albums in 1976. Concerned with the controversial nature of some of Tom's material, RCA omitted various songs from the spiritually inclined 'The Outsider,' and Tom temporarily retired to Woodstock in disgust. Tom spent the next decade leading the Tom Pacheco Band (a.k.a. The Hellhounds) through a blur of roadhouses from New York State to Texas and back. Tired of the touring grind, Tom moved to Nashville in 1986 to become a non-performing songwriter but was predictably appalled at the assembly-line nature of the town's song factories. Within a year, Tom followed a friend's invitation to visit him in Dublin, and a six-week visit became a decade-long stay in Ireland. Signed to a trustworthy label and supportive management, Tom used Ireland as his home and touring base for forays around the U.K., Germany, Holland, and Norway (and the occasional return to the US for performances and some recording sessions). On one Norwegian tour, Tom encountered the country's reigning country music star, Steinar Albrigtsen, and their association would lead to six Pacheco-penned Top 5 Norwegian singles for Albrigtsen and a periodic partnership that has yielded two duo albums to date. In 1994, Pacheco signed with Scandinavia's Sonet label, and a re-recorded version of one of his older songs became his own Top 5 hit in Norway. He returned to Woodstock in late 1996 to record the 'Woodstock Winter' album with The Band's post-Robbie Robertson lineup and guest John Sebastian as backing musicians; the record was Tom's first US release in 21 years and, true to form, was soon squelched by industry politics. After another 16 months back in Ireland, Tom relocated to Woodstock, continuing to write songs and release albums on foreign labels. In 2002, Pacheco found a home with the Appleseed label and recorded 'There Was a Time.'