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Frederico “Cisco” Archuleta — Jamming those low notes

Frederico “Cisco” Archuleta of Hazardous Materials Management plays acoustic and electric bass guitar for music genres such as country, folk and Spanish and mariachi music.
February 26, 2019
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“I’ve pretty much stuck to music I listened to while growing up in northern New Mexico—country, folk and traditional Spanish and mariachi music.”

Jamming those low notes

It’s a Friday night and couples at the Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort are ready to dance and have a good time. As the lounge’s lights dim, the country music band Perfect StrangR takes the stage.

As the stage lights begin their colorful interplay of patterns, bassist Frederico “Cisco” Archuleta of Hazardous Materials Management (NPI-7), along with drummer Timm Kailey, set the pace and the beat for the opening song, a cover of George Jones’ “I’m a One Woman Man.” Seconds into the song, couples take to the floor and begin to dance, some going traditional with a two-step while others move freestyle to the twang-laden music. Forget about using a guitar pick—Cisco uses his thumb and fingers to produce low-end notes that drive the band’s signature sound. 

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed music,” says Cisco. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the mountains with my dad, helping him with the family’s cattle. I remember on days we would work up there, he would play Spanish folk music on these old eight-track tapes. I really enjoyed those songs—I knew that one day I wanted to play them on the stage.”

During middle school, Cisco began to learn the trumpet. As he became comfortable with the instrument, Cisco began to experiment with others, such as the saxophone, drums and guitar. In high school, he formed his first band. 

“After my first band broke up, I answered an ad from a band looking for a bass player,” Cisco explains. “I had never played the electric bass, but I used my experience as a guitar player to get me through the audition.” Cisco chuckles. “I wound up playing with that band for 10 years.”


Cisco Archuleta jams some low notes on his five-string bass guitar.

Que viva el mariachi! 

While in high school, Cisco began to play an instrument known as a guitarrón (Spanish for “big guitar’). This deep-bodied acoustic six-string bass guitar is one the traditional instruments used to play mariachi music. The guitarrón’s purpose in such music is to help the group keep the rhythm and beat of a song. It was this instrument that inspired musician and entrepreneur Ernie Ball to develop the first modern acoustic bass guitar, which made its first appearance in 1972.

“My senior year in high school, I went to Europe with a mariachi band,” says Cisco. “We performed at the New Years Day Parade in London, England. We even had the honor of serenading the Queen of England.”

Cisco’s interest in mariachi music has never wavered. “I still play mariachi-styled music today. I have a four-person band—vocal, guitar, guitarrón and accordion—and we play at weddings, birthday parties, special events and funerals for people who enjoy traditional instrumentals (known as sones) and Mexican folk and country songs.”

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Cisco (far right) plays the guitarrón with his modern mariachi band.


Don’t be a StrangR

Two years ago, Cisco joined the country music band Perfect StrangR. Based in Tierra Amarilla, the band has been around for more than three decades. The band performs mostly covers of country artists such as George Strait and George Jones.

“We’re a pretty busy band, playing gigs just about every weekend, not only in New Mexico but states such as Colorado, Texas and Arizona,” notes Cisco. “The reason Perfect StrangR is popular is that we perform the music 100% like the original artists. Some bands, they bring their own signature to the music, changing it up. We prefer to play covers so they sound just like the original, so that people can dance to them and enjoy them.”

When not busy performing live, the band members have taken the time to plan a new album. “I’ve never recorded with Perfect StrangR before, but I have experience in recording with other bands, so I’m pretty comfortable with the process. It’s all exciting.” 

In addition to his work with Perfect StrangR, Cisco recently started work on a solo project. “It’s basically a personal work, one where I am recording individual songs with other musicians I have known and worked with through the years. The music is a mixture of folk, mariachi, Spanish and a little bit of country. I am going to take my time with it—that’s the best part of having a personal project.”

Cisco’s tenacious drive when it comes to composing and performing music has never waned. “It’s turned into a pretty solid side career,” Cisco says with a laugh. “I also have always been driven and inspired by the love and support from my children, girlfriend, family, friends, the many musicians I have jammed and worked with and of course the many supporters out there of the local music scene.”

Cisco (far right) plays electric bass for the band Perfect StrangR.

Frederico Archuleta works for the Hazardous Materials Management group (NPI-7).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the Employee Spotlight articles are solely those of the featured employees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Los Alamos National Laboratory.