The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
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MIKE NEWMAN looks ahead to a real treat for folk-lovers.
FOR those not familiar with US folk singer-songwriter Tom Pacheco, a quote from NetRhythms in 2005 sums up his work well.
"While Mr Springsteen draws on the inspiration of Guthrie, Seeger etc, Pacheco is the real thing, cut from the same cloth as those guys, with the same dust on his boots and the same song in his heart."
Tom Pacheco has been a regular and welcome visitor to these shores during a career spanning more than four decades and Monday sees his latest tour kick off in Dunkeld in Perthshire.
He is a performer of commitment and integrity and has never been one to keep his political or environmental concerns to himself. His song Back On My Ranch In Texas was written while being held in prison for 48 hours for protesting against the war in Iraq.
Tom Pacheco comes from a family of musicians. His late father Tony was a notable jazz guitarist who toured Europe before the war and played with the legendary Django Reinhardt. It was Tony Pacheco who encouraged his 10-year-old son to take up guitar.
Music has often been a family affair for Tom Pacheco. His band The Raggamuffins featured his brother Paul and they supported the young Jimi Hendrix in Greenwich Village.
Paul Pacheco went on to play bass for John Lee Hooker after The Raggamuffins broke up. His brother-in-law played with The Remains, who were one of the supporting acts for The Beatles during their first US tour.
In the mid 1980s, Tom Pacheco was offered a potentially lucrative contract in Nashville, but the demands of the music industry were not for him, so he turned this down and left for a six-week tour of Ireland. The tour was to last 10 years.
This year has seen the release of this prolific musician's latest album Railways, Rainbows And Talkin' Blues, recorded with brother Paul.
This followed the 2007 release of a double CD Best Of Tom Pacheco Volume One, which features 31 songs from throughout his career.
Of particular interest to readers of this paper will be the song Che, which is a sympathetic look at the life of the great revolutionary.
As this tour coincides with a welcome change at the White House, I felt obliged to ask Tom Pacheco what his thoughts were on the new US president-elect.
"There is something very lucky about Obama and that luck will be infectious throughout the whole country and world. One man cannot change everything, but one person can be inspirational and make us all work harder and think better of ourselves in the world. In the end, it is the people that have to change things," he says.
Touring throughout November takes him from Scotland down to Manchester, Ulverston and Leicester to finish up at the Green Note in London.
Tom Pacheco's albums are not readily available in Britain but can be ordered through his website. Of particular note would be his 2005 release Rebel Spring. On this album, he displays his love for his country while voicing frustrations at its inequalities and contradictions.
Finally for a taster, political flavour of the moment Barack Obama is saluted in Pacheco's song The Man From Illinois.