Catalog & order information: Cravedog CDR 027
3138 SE Belmont #3
Portland, OR 97214
Fernando Viciconte is a hard-edged
rocker and a soft-hearted balladeer; he's a gritty performer and
a brilliant lyricist; this vato is a little bit country--or
better said, pampa, born in Argentina--and a little bit East LA--or
rather Pacoima, the SoCal town where he came of age. Fernando retooled
his social consciousness in UCLA's Poli Sci department before he
left to hone his rock & roll chops in the Los Angeles music
scene, where he flirted with fame before fleeing to Portland and
a job parking cars.
Fernando's live shows ricochet from Richie
Valens to Nashville to grunge to nueva canción, weaving recklessly
and masterfully across musical, linguistic, and cultural boundaries.
His 1998 album Pacoima serves up 10 Spanish-language
originals, an instrumental title track oozing mariachi vigor, and
a spirited rave-up of Valens' "Ooh, My Head"
The package features the muralistic artwork
of Los Angeles painter Omar Ramírez, and lyrics translated into
English. Be warned that Fernando's frank and worldly words could
make certain patrons squirm: a line like "Nunca más creo
in Cristo" will strike some as sacrilege, and the faint
of heart might just want to affix the barcode sticker over the print
on the CD that reads "Por resultados más buenos fume marihuana".
Pacoima will grab young ears
and reward serious listening. It's a rich work by a gifted, down-to-earth
artist who seems to be actively avoiding the big time--despite offers
from major labels, Fernando stuck with tiny Cravedog for his fourth
disk, Old Man Motel, which met with national critical
raves. Recently, at an important industry showcase in Portland,
his band spent the first quarter hour of its set in an extended
jam, wondering when Fernando would ever show up; he'd lain down
for a nap and after he woke up late his girlfriend had to speed
him, Oregon-style, through one red light after another so he could
sing at least a few songs for the suits.
Reviewed by Bruce Jensen
Find out more about Fernando, and listen to clips from Pacoima.