Flying Cat Music is proud to present Woodstock’s own folk legend, Tom Pacheco, in concert in Phoenicia on Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31, at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street. The shows begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. with the door opening at 7:00. Admission is $15 or $13 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453. Reservations are highly recommended.
It’s a wonder that someone called a “quintessentially American songwriter” by Dirty Linen Magazine and “One of America’s greatest songwriting treasures” by FolkWax remains as much of a stealth figure to the majority of American folk fans as Tom Pacheco is today, nearly fifty years and two dozen albums into his remarkable international career. There are few songwriters alive who get accolades like these: “Tom Pacheco deserves to be mentioned in the same tones of reverence as John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle…Tom Pacheco is one of the most impressive singer/songwriters of our times.” That comes from Hugh Gregory of Folk Roots. And Maverick Magazine, one of the UK’s leading music publications, says, “In many ways [Tom’s] is a voice crying in the wilderness, just as Guthrie’s was back in the time of the great depression, and Seeger’s was in the fifties – and Dylan’s was, when he gave voice to those unable to express their own fears and frustrations in the early sixties.”
Then there is this from accousticmusic.com, “Pacheco can very well stand in a line of great folksingers, ranging from Woody Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan. There is nothing that makes him less relevant or important than them, except the demands of capitalist culture.” Tom Pacheco’s less than compliant relationship with America’s capitalist culture is no secret to those familiar with his songs. There is no topic Tom dares not speak of. It’s a trait that has long made controversy-adverse mainstream music executives nervous. Early in his career both they and Tom, himself, came to realize that his was a fiercely maverick talent.
In 1971 Tom and his then musical partner Sharon Alexander were approached by an A&R man from CBS while performing at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village. An audition with then label head Clive Davis resulted in a record deal and an album, produced by John Hall, which featured twelve of Tom’s songs. Come 1976, Tom Pacheco was signed as a solo artist by another major label, RCA Records which recorded two of Tom’s albums in Los Angeles, both produced by the legendary George “Shadow” Morton. In between, Pacheco compositions were recorded by stars as diverse as Richie Havens (“Indian Prayer” on Mixed Bag II) and The Jefferson Starship (“All Fly Away” on Dragonfly). After time spent both in Woodstock, New York, and Austin, Texas, at the center of vibrant emerging songwriter scenes, 1986 found Tom Pacheco pursuing his craft in Nashville, and this time it was a major music publishing firm that sought to bottle his talent. Tom recalled that time in an interview.
“I was offered a songwriting job on salary by Mel Tillis Music, which I could have used at the time. But when I saw the kind of song they wanted me to write, I just couldn’t imagine ending up like that.” Instead Tom ended up in Dublin, Ireland, when a short trip there in 1987 got extended by ten years. It was in Europe that Tom Pacheco finally won the fame that continues to elude him in America. In one year alone Tom racked up five top ten hits in Norway. He still tours throughout Europe extensively.
Aside from Americana music fans in Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Woodstock, Tom’s biggest supporters are musicians in America who are far better known than he is. Pete Seeger had Pacheco come up on stage to help celebrate his ninetieth birthday at Madison Square Garden. Rick Danko of the Band collaborated closely with Tom during the years they spent together in Woodstock, and Bob Dylan has long been a friend.
Lucinda Williams, who Tom later became closer to while living in Austin, first became a friend when Pacheco heard her singing on a Greenwich Village street and invited her to join him for a set he was about to play. She recalled the moment fondly in a New York Magazine interview while discussing some otherwise unrewarding time spend in New York City very early in her career, “There was one highlight, though. I was in Folk City. Tom Pacheco was playing that night, and I got up and did a couple of songs with him. Dylan had come in to hear Tom, because he knew him from the whole Woodstock scene.”
Tom Pacheco’s music continues to resonate with influential musicians too young to have been part of the late sixties music scene, including Mary Gauthier whose own albums have made top ten for the year lists in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Billboard Magazine. Mary says this about Tom Pacheco and his work in comments written for his soon to be released next album, Boomtown. “Tom Pacheco’s songs take me home to a place I’ve not been but long to see. His magic is in the beauty of the longing–He sings my longing like no one ever has. Articulates as only a poet can – The Longing. I adore this record and I adore Tom Pacheco.”
Those are sentiments widely shared throughout greater Woodstock. Be sure to RSVP early, seating for these shows is strictly limited