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Artists You Should Know: Patrick Contreras

I’ve revived the Artists You Should Know series, moving it to print in Friday’s 7 magazine and bring some of the spill over here to The Beehive.

The goal is to let people know about local artists who are making news. Hopefully it gets people out to enjoy the great local musicians Fresno has.

This week, I talked to Patrick Contreras, who is no stranger to Beehive readers. But he’s headlining at Warnors Theatre on Thursday. That’s a huge gig for a local artist. I talked to him about that and more for the interview in today’s paper, but here’s our entire Q & A, followed by videos of Patrick in action and links to his music.

Question: So, the Warnors Theatre — you’re the only local artist in recent memory to headline. That must be huge.
Answer: Yeah, honestly I’m a little nervous. I have some big shoes to fill, and I hope to represent the local music scene well.

Your Arte Americas show was a huge success. What do you have planned to top that?
Yes, Arte Americas was a landmark for me, locally. Warnors Theatre is similar, but I’m bringing a lot of experienced players in. Some of the members of my band have worked and toured with Tony Bennett, Ricky Martin, Luis Miguel and The Temptations.

What is the American Gypsy concept all about?
American Gypsy was a nickname given to me by a music journalist. It means I blend many styles of music together from around the world and turn it into something distinctly American.

I know you have a big list of guests joining you, but pick two that you’re especially excited about?
Well, I’m really looking forward to working with Rob “The Voice” from the Super Lucky Catz. Rob has the character, personality and voice of a star and I think this will be a highlight of the night. I’m also looking forward to working with Richard Cecinbaugh, the Warnors Theatre organist. To hear the organ roar inside the Warnors Theatre will be something special.

This concert is tied into the Fresno Cultural Arts Conference. That must be another big honor for you too. How did that come about?
Cynthia Cooper, President of FCASH (Fresno Coalition for Art, Science, and History) invited me to play after seeing me perform at Arte Americas. Before she could finish saying “Warnors Theatre” I was in. Being able to contribute to FCASH’s vision of a better downtown is just an overwhelming honor for me.

There’s so much stuff going on Oct. 4, between the fair, ArtHop and many other things — why should people skip the rest and come see you?

Well, we will get started right as ArtHop usually wraps up, so I don’t think there will be much of a conflict. As for the fair, which I love, singers like Chris Daughtry come around every two months. Local rock violinist headlining Warnors Theatre happens how often? Plus I’ll put my Fresno musicians up against Daughtry anywhere anytime.

One of the most impressive things about what you do is the way jump from genre to genre, how do you manage it all?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. I hear music in my head, and it just seems to pour out regardless of style. I haven’t really stopped to think about the process that happens.

With all the styles you blend, what’s your approach to making it all come together as a recording?
It’s tough. There’s not a real model to copy, because the ideas are original. And the instrumentation is “different” to say the least. A violin and a clarinet against a conga, drum and electric guitar. I feel bad for the sound engineer. When I write music I’m not looking to play one jazz song, one Asian song, one Cuban song. I work to bring many rhythms and melodies from around the world together into one definable sound.

How did you first get interested in the violin?
My dad kicked my butt.

What musicians inspire you?

Dead Musicians: Astor Piazzolla, Rachmaninov, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters. Musicians Still Alive: Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Mark O’ Connor, Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo

Do you feel like the violin is a marketable instrument in the current music landscape?
Yes, playing Violin puts me in a very marketable spot. Its fresh and original compared to what’s on the current market. The violin is traditional enough for an older crowd, rockin’ enough for the baby boomers, and modern enough for the young crowd. My audience is always full of people of all ages, and it’s been that way in every city I play.

What do you think the future holds for you?
I hope I can land a big record deal and a major tour. That will give me the power to do what I really want. Open an arts academy in Downtown Fresno to give kids in lower-economic situations a chance to study theater, music and art at the highest level.

Why is that important to you?
I grew up in a rough neighborhood where a lot of my friends ended up in bad places. Playing music saved my life, and so did my family. I also want to thank the music teachers for putting up with me and my crazy antics.

If you could change one thing about the Fresno local scene what would it be?
I think what’s happening right now is exciting. Many new bands are forming, and on any given weekend a lot of music is going on. Fresno needs a good mid-sized venue in town. A 400-600 person sized music club bringing in out of town acts such as The Roots or Andrew Bird, as well as local favorites. We don’t have to be missing all those great acts that aren’t mainstream enough for Save Mart Center.

Tell people about one other local artist you think they should know.
Eva Scow, a great local jazz virtuoso mandolinist. My favorite local musician, she will amaze any who goes to see her.

Any last words?
I’m honored more than words can describe to play at the Warnors Theater. It’s a dream come true for me and I’m gonna try to put on the best performance of my life.

SIGHTS & SOUNDS
Here are some videos of Patrick in action:

Here’s his commerical for the concert:
Patrick Contreras – Warnors Theater Thursday Oct. 4 at 7pm
You can listen to Contreras’ music on his MySpace page or in this week’s Beehive podcast.

Responses to "Artists You Should Know: Patrick Contreras"

Salina says:

His extreme drive and passion is truly amazing and breathtaking. It takes a strong commitment and character to be breaking boundaries and perspectives of people. Expressing and appreciating music shouldn’t be narrow. Patrick Contreras has the image and the skill to make a mark for generations.

ANDREW says:

Patrick Contreras is one of the most original and innovative musicians ever to come out of Fresno, and a huge inspiration to all of us still grinding our axe’s away trying to reach his level. Thanks to Mike Osegueda for writing this article.

Steve Alva says:

Patrick was near maestro level at the Tower Theater on November 10, 2007. The only reason he wasn’t full maestro level was due to his youth, but he’ll be there soon, no doubt. He needs to open a Gypsy/Flamenco establishment in the Tower District adjoining perhaps an authentic Spanish or Mediterranean Restaurant and Bar that will be the talk of the Central Valley for years to come. Yes, he’s that great and I only hope he stays in Fresno.