Interview with Fernando Calderon
Monday, Sept. 18, 2000
Rose Murray interviewing for Ray Price Fan Club
For this interview, I caught up with Ray’s bass player Fernando (Ferdy) Calderon between Ray Price shows at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California (Sept. 18, 2000) Fortunately, I happened to have my tape recorder along when Ferdy joined us at our table. He’s a man who smiles and laughs a lot and seems to enjoy life with great good humor. We also had a camera with us and discovered that Ferdy is quite photogenic—as you can see from the photos accompanying this article.
(Update note: This interview took place a month before the sad passing of Ferdy’s brother Blondie Calderon. So much has changed with the band and in Ferdy’s life. Ferdy now plays drums for Ray and has taken over many of his brother’s duties on the road.)
Fan Club: Ferdy, were you musically inclined and talented from an early age?
Ferdy: Yes, I’ve played drums from the time I was 9 years old until I was 14, and then on and off after that. I also learned to play the bass. That's what I play in Ray’s band.
Fan club: From what we’ve heard, you come from a very musical family. Is there any family member or teacher you credit with your musical training.
Ferdy: You bet, my brother Blondie, who is Ray’s pianist, singer, musical director, road manager, and comedy sidekick. He’s the musical genius in our family. Blondie taught us all to play instruments. We were five brothers; two were older than Blondie, two younger. I was the youngest. Blondie taught all of us to play an instrument. He taught my oldest brother how to play saxophone; he taught another how how to play the vibraphone and piano and drums, and he taught me to how to play the drums and the bass. I credit Blondie with a lot of my success.
Fan club: When and how did you become a Cherokee Cowboy? Is there an interesting story involved that you’d like to share?
Ferdy: I’ve been with Ray going on 13 years already. I don’t know what it was, I must have broke a mirror. Bad luck! (laughs) I used to sit in with a lot of other bands, but my brother Blondie is the one who got me to tour with Ray. He couldn’t find any bass player. He said, “Why don’t you go on the road with us.” I said, “But I’ve got my business.” He said, “Well, you know, you could do it on and off.” I said, “Why not, let’s try it.” He taught me the show, he said it’s basically…the show’s just a couple of songs…and, yeah, then he started showing me how to play a couple of more and a couple of more…and pretty soon, I knew a bunch of Ray Price songs. So I started doing it, and I started liking it, and so, when I’m home, I do my automotive business, and then I’m on the road.
Fan club: Are you also a singer, composer, songwriter, etc.?
Ferdy: No, I can’t even sing. (Laughs) No, I’ve never written any songs. No, I’m the bass player, and bass players don’t write too many songs. And I’m also a drummer, and not too many songs are written by drummers or bass players.
Fan club: What other roles do you play in the musical, managerial or business side of the band?
Ferdy: Oh, I help sell product for Ray, and that’s about it. We inventory it on the bus--the product--and sell it for Ray--that is, we help him sell it.
Fan club: Have you performed with other groups or singers in the past that you’d like to mention?
Ferdy: The other band I play with is Blondie’s band at home. We play a lot of salsa music and jazz and some country. We play at Blondie’s restaurant at home in Del Rio, Texas, when we’re not on the road with Ray.
Fan club: What do you like best about the music business?
Ferdy: Traveling is what I like about the music business.
Fan club: Yes, you’re a Sagittarius. They like to travel.
Ferdy: Right, you bet. I’m a Sagittarius. (Laughs)
Fan club: Any awards or honors that you’ve won that we should know about?
Ferdy: I won a jalopeno-eating contest once. (Laughs) No, I don’t have any top honors or anything like that.
Fan club: On tour, do you have a favorite city, venue, or area of the country that you like most to visit.
Ferdy: Well when we go overseas, like in Japan, that was a trip and a half. We had some fun. We did a ten-day tour over there. We got to ride on the bullet train. That was pretty interesting. We went to a lot of places. We were out there like tourists.
Fan club: Did you say you’ve gone to Germany?
Ferdy: No, Ray’s been to Germany. I haven’t been to Germany with him yet. Canada. I’ve been to Canada. I liked that.
Fan club: Do you have any amusing stories about incidents or events on tour that you’d like to share?
Ferdy: Oh, I’ve got a lot of those. (With laughter in voice.) We’d have to sit down and write a book on ‘em.
Fan club: You run into a lot of bad weather when you go touring around in the wintertime, don’t you?
Ferdy: Yes, especially in the snow. Ray doesn’t like to travel up north during the winter because of the bus. They have to put snow chains on the bus. All that kind of stuff. And it’s just horrible.
Fan club: What’s the worst weather you’ve ever run into?
Ferdy: Oh, the freezing rain and snow and it’s hard to keep the bus on the road. It’ll slide all over the place, especially going downhill. So, that’s kind of scary.
Fan club: We understand you have a sideline business called Ferdy’s Automotive. Would you like to mention something about it?
Ferdy: Okay, my automotive business, I’ve got an office in Del Rio, Texas, my home, and what I do is I buy and resell automotive products, and I sell them across the border. I’ve got a bunch of customers, and I sell big trucks, a lot of used equipment, tractors and stuff, into Mexico, and that’s what I do in my automotive business.
Fan club: Are you married or single?
Fan club: Any children or other family members who figure prominently in your life?
Ferdy: I have three children. Two boys and a girl.
Fan club: Are any of your children musically inclined?
Ferdy: Well, my oldest is a drummer. His name is Fernando, Jr. He’s got his own band in Dallas. And they just put out a demo CD. They’re trying to get something done with it. They’re working on it. It’s a semi-rock band, but he’s playing drums. He loves to do it. My daughter started playing the cello in school, but didn’t like it. So she quit. And my youngest is trying to get me to get him a drum set. But my oldest took it to Dallas and left it over there. We bought him a brand-new set, but he kept the old one there. So we’re trying to get it from him and give it to my youngest. He’s sixteen years old. Trying to get him on the drums too.
Fan club: Any favorite sport, hobby, recreation, or objects you like to collect?
Ferdy: I like to play golf. And I also like bowling. But mostly golf. And fishing. That’s what I like to do. When I have a chance to. Me and Ray get together when we’re playing casinos–if we have a little time, we go out and play golf. Ray and I playing golf together—forget it. (Laughs heartily)
Fan club: Who usually wins?
Ferdy: (With humor in his voice) Well, I let him beat me or else he’ll fire me or something. (Laughs heartily) Yeah. Ray's really a good golfer. He hits the ball far and straight. We have some fun, especially when we have some spare time. We used to carry the golf clubs on the old bus, but it got too crowded, and we started leaving them at home. Nobody else liked to go and play golf. All they could do is sit in the motel room and we’d go play golf. We’d have the good fun.
Fan club: How do you like the new bus?
Ferdy: It’s a beautiful bus. We got a couple of TVs back there that we put on movies and stuff. So we have a lot of fun on it. It’s parked outside right now.
Fan club: Are the lights on now? So we can get a picture of it?
Ferdy: Yes, you can get a picture of it. As a matter of fact, I’ve got some good pictures of it that I took when we first got it. I’ve got some good pictures—the panoramic pictures—it’s the whole bus. The pictures are about that long. (Stretches arms wide) I’ll send you one. The card you gave me has the address and stuff?
Fan club:No, but I can write it on it for you.
Ferdy: You got the recorder going, don’t you? Shall I sing a song or something? (Laughs). And I’ll put some more pictures that I’ve got so you can maybe put ‘em on the web.
Fan club: Thanks, Ferdy. We look forward to receiving them.