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February 11th, 2009 JAY HORTON | Music Stories
 

Fernando Friday, Feb. 13

A Portland rock icon finds his voice and drops his label.

     
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[AMERICANA TROUBADOUR] Friday’s show isn’t, actually, a CD-release party for Fernando Viciconte’s seventh album, True Instigator. In fact, there is no CD, unless the Americana icon’s fanbase burned a disc. Instead, Viciconte will offer the self-released album as a free download from his website for the next three months.

Despite not existing in physical form, True Instigator contains ambling Nashville shoulda-been standards, grass-roots melancholia, elder power-punk anthems—songwriting less eclectic than well-traveled. More importantly, the recordings demonstrate that Viciconte’s inimitable vocals struggled past the precancerous lesions that threatened his career three years ago. In 2005, Viciconte found assistance from an OHSU specialist and attempted to continue his recording career with the excellent Enter to Exit. “Because of my limitations, the record ended up kind of mellow,” he says. “I couldn’t scream or rock out. That type of record was created because of the illness.”

Viciconte couldn’t tour on Enter to Exit—at the time he didn’t think his vocals would even last a full set. “For those two or three years, every time I tried to really sing, my voice would completely go for a minute,” he says. “I could almost feel the vocal cords snap together.” But when old collaborators showed up around Portland ready to reunite (Viciconte’s original bassist, Joe Chiusano; original guitarist Dan Eccles; even Scott McPherson, who’d drummed for Fernando ’round L.A. in the late ’80s), Viciconte began to rock once more.

“It felt great. For the first time in years, I felt like I could scream again,” he says. With recording help from Adam Selzer (Norfolk Western), Jeff Stuart Saltzman (Sleater-Kinney), Luther Russell (Richmond Fontaine) and Mike Coykendall (M. Ward), Viciconte brought together old urges and the new capacity. “I could scream, but I could do the quiet stuff as well.” Thus comes the new record.

“I love recording music. It’s the touring, selling, promoting, schlepping it around that burned me out. I’m 40 years old. That enthusiasm has dwindled. From now on, the main goal’s to write records for the sake of creating art and enjoying it. The next thing’s gonna be freaky psychedelic. We’ll record it on the 8-track, and have a good time with the boys at my house.”


SEE IT: Fernando plays a CD-release show Friday, Feb. 13, at Dante’s. 9:30 pm. $7. 21+.
 
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