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Feeling The Music
The energetic style of Fernando Tarango
By Jim Mount
Fort Wayne Reader
When you see Fernando Tarango performing on stage with the Wickersham Brothers, it's easy to get wrapped up in the energy he puts into the act.
The vibrancy and passion spills out with songs like “Indiana,” “Far From Perfect,” “Mon Cherie,” “To Get What I Want,” and closing out with a song now being featured nationally, “Just Sing.” When you meet Tarango personally, you're blown away by the ready and wide smile and that same buzzing energy that's barely contained but transferred effectively enough when he begins playing. There just seems to be something about making and playing music bouncing around inside his head that he wants to share and set loose. Tarango, the front man for the Wickersham brothers, is a busy guy these days. Just recently married, Tarango was just recently featured in Old Spice commercial with the Wickersham Brothers song “Just Sing.”
Tarango is originally from San Elizario, Texas where he lived in an adobe house that his father built. Music, however, has always been a part of his upbringing; “My mom was a music teacher,” Tarango says, “and my parents met in a band. I have four sisters who would tape songs on the radio, write down the lyrics to songs and learn them for car trips.” Tarango cites a huge influence on his songwriting as his dads Golden Oldies compilation albums as well as music playing on Oldies 101.7. “I didn't go out much in high school,” Tarango says, “except for extracurricular like the musicals and show choir. I would spend a lot of time exploring my dads record and tape collections and anything that was Motown usually got me going.”
Tarango has done some extensive traveling and has had a lot of education in music; “I joined a choir when I was six years old and when I was eight I was recruited to attend the American Boychoir School in Princeton, NJ for the fifth and eighth grade where I'd began singing professionally at the age of ten.” Tarango says. Later Tarango's family would move to Indiana where he attended a boarding school and from here he would tour ten different countries performing in what he says were some of the best churches and concert halls and performing with some of the best musicians.
Tarango was touring on the road for over a year before he became enrolled at Bishop Luers High School. He then went on to study Vocal Performance at the University of Michigan where he taught himself to play guitar and began writing songs. “I've always had songs running through my head growing up and I often wrote down little poems and word games,” Tarango says, “My college roommate and best friend was getting into songwriting and guitar playing and I remember I wrote some lyrics and put it on his desk with a note saying something like ‘I wrote some lyrics, use 'em if you like 'em.’ That night he had the chords and melody written and to this day it's one of my favorite songs.” Tarango remembers this time in his life vividly and gratefully with a lot of appreciation for those who've planted the seeds and shown him the way to a successful career; “I've been blest to have such amazing music teachers.”
Things really started taking off for Tarango when he met and joined the Wickersham Brothers. The Wickersham Brothers, for Tarango, is a tight knit group of friends and experienced musicians who also feature guest musicians in their shows;
“My bandmates are some amazing players and great guys,” Tarango says. “Cale Reese is the founding bassist of the band. He's also a member of the Blue Bird Revival, a professional touring Gospel Bluegrass ensemble. Brad Crossland is our drummer and Logan Weber is our Sax player. Both play quite frequently with John Durnell and What She Said. Jason Markzon, Principal Percussionist for the Philharmonic and founder of the Fort Wayne Fringe Festival, is also in the band. The band likes to feature local musicians in their shows such as Alex Klepach, also playing for the Philharmonic as the Principal Pianist. “As we continue,” Tarango says, “we hope to feature more and more soloists.”
Meeting band mate Cale Reese during a YouTube taping at C2G was where Tarango initially took off with the Wickersham Brothers;
“I was in a band at the time, but Cale and I met up and figured it would be fun to make music together and we haven't stopped,” Tarango says. “Our first show as the Wickersham Brothers was in October of 2012 on Meet the Music with Julia Meek where we actually wrote and performed the theme song.” Cale came up with the name the Wickersham Brothers from Dr. Seusses Horten Hears A Who.
Tarango got a tremendous boost from his meeting with a local media production company RezFX; “I first met the members of the commercial production company RezFx when one of the producers, Troy Koch, was looking for musicians,” Tarango says, “I met Matt McRorry and Kiowa Ackley (members of RezFX) soon after and it was pretty evident that they were extremely talented and driven. I wanted to be a part of what they did so I told them I was their intern and forced myself onto their sets with my ability to look like I'm being useful.”
The work and collaboration with RezFX would prove to be a big payoff — the company was looking for talent for a line of Proctor and Gamble commercials that would lead to Tarango being cast as an on-camera talent for Old Spice. RezFX submitted the video of the Wickersham Brothers first performance as a six piece band at the Pint and Slice. “The company liked what they saw and heard and the next thing you know I'm an on-camera talent for Old Spice.” (Tarango is also the bartender in the Southern Comfort commercials ‘Lingo Cops’.)
With a successful career starting to hit a full stride, Tarango shared his drive and explains what music does for him and by extension what he hopes it does for people who come to see the Wickersham Brothers play: “I hope that I can create music that gives the audience a sense of belonging the way music does for me. I've never really been alone in life because music has always been running in my head or out of the speakers. It's a dream come true to be able to perform a song I wrote and see people singing along. Those moments are filled with gratitude and it's nice to look out and see my fellow band mates who have helped me create a vision I always knew was possible.”
The Wickersham Brothers will be releasing a new single and EP (5 song CD) release November 9th at the Wunderkammer, 3402 Fairfield. To order copies or to see more commercials, upcoming shows or music from Fernando Tarango visit his website at www.fernandotarango.com