Flashback: Fernando’s First Full-Band Album Helped Save Him From the Wretch He Used To Be

"It took me a couple of years to mend my broken heart and probably a little longer to stop snorting lines off public bathroom toilets."

FROM LEFT: Marilee Hord, Dan Eccles, Joe Chuisano, Clayton Jones and Fernando Viciconte. IMAGE: Courtesy of Fernando Viciconte.

Fernando Viciconte is getting the band back together. Specifically, the band that helped the roots-inspired singer-songwriter record his breakthrough album, 1997's Widows. To mark the record's 20th anniversary, and its vinyl reissue, Viciconte is going to play it in full with the musicians who helped him make it for the first time in 19 years. Here, he explains how the album helped him start to get his life together after a turbulent few years. 

"This is a promo shot of the original Widows-era band circa 1997. We did not end up using this picture when the record was released, maybe because Dan Eccles did not get the memo that we were supposed to look menacing.

"I moved to Portland from Los Angeles in 1994, trying to outrun a nasty cocaine addiction and a failed marriage. It took me a couple of years to mend my broken heart and probably a little longer to stop snorting lines off public bathroom toilets. But I'd finally found a place that felt like home.

"In 1996, I formed my first Portland band, and with their help and support I recorded my first full-band record, Widows. We recorded over the course of three days in my friend Johnny Beluzzi's basement in Northeast Portland, and the goal was to record a rough-around-the-edges and honest country-influenced record in the vein of John Prine's Pink Cadillac.

"I remember being sick as a dog during these sessions, and that we were all perpetually stoned during the entire three days, but it ended up being one of the easiest records I have ever worked on. This was my first full-band record as a solo artist, and it was pivotal in establishing me in Portland and I credit this record for creating the majority of the fan base that we still enjoy to this very day."

SEE IT: Fernando plays Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave., with the Old Joe Clarks and Little Sue, on Friday, Nov. 10. 9 pm. $12. 21+. Get tickets here.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.