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Published February 05 2013

Fargo native Reina del Cid, making an impact on Twin Cities music scene, comes home to play this weekend

"Expiration Date" music video

If you go

What: Reina del Cid and the Cidizens

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: JT Cigarro, 4554 7th Ave. S., Fargo

Info: Cover is $5; for more information call (701) 277-0711

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MINNEAPOLIS – In a simple, matter-of-fact way, Reina del Cid calls herself a “big nerd.”

In fact, the Fargo native, who returns home with her band Reina del Cid and the Cidizens this weekend, named her guitar after El Cid – an 11th-century knight featured in Spanish literature.

After that, it was easy for her to come up with her own stage name: Reina, which means queen in Spanish.

“If my guitar is El Cid, who was a knight, then I would probably be the queen,” said del Cid, who might be better known in Fargo by her real name, Rachelle Cordova.

More than that, though, del Cid’s interest in litera-ture and poetry also direct-ly influences the sound of her music.

“I read a lot of poetry, and that sort of prose leads into the lyrics, and gives it that sort of orientation,” says the 2006 Fargo South graduate.

The Minneapolis-based Reina del Cid and the Cidi-zens have been playing together for more than a year. Del Cid wrote all 10 songs on the four-person band’s first album in 2012, “blueprints, plans.”

The Twin Cities music scene is taking notice. The Cidizens recently got a coveted Monday night residency at the Amster-dam Bar and Hall in St. Paul, which could last for the entire year.

And in a sign of their growing profile, del Cid and the band were recently featured in stories by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and City Pages. “Blue-prints, plans” was also voted by listeners of 89.3 The Current as one of the Top 20 Local Releases of 2012.

“Eventually the goal is to just do music and quit the day job,” says del Cid, who also works as an editorial assistant at the University of Minnesota Press. “We’re getting to a point where that’s now in the foreseea-ble future.”

A shy kid

Playing music for other people is now a large part of del Cid’s life, but back when she was a student at Fargo South that wasn’t the case.

She was a quiet kid back then, focused more on her academics, softball and theater than music, she says. When she did play or sing, she’d do so in the private confines of her own home.

“I was always a really shy kid in high school, and kind of kept to myself a lot,” she says. “I did a lot of music alone, by myself. Just me and the guitar.”

Laura Christensen, an English teacher at Fargo’s Davies High School who taught del Cid at Fargo South, says she remembers her as someone who didn’t like to be in the spotlight.

“She wasn’t super com-fortable being the center of attention,” Christensen says. “She’s very modest and humble. She would never, ever say, ‘Hey, look at me.’ ”

Christensen was aware that del Cid wrote poetry, but she says she kept her interest in music more or less to herself.

“I didn’t hear her music until she was out of high school,” Christensen says.

While studying English at the University of Minne-sota, del Cid started getting more comfortable playing music publicly, and even started posting videos to YouTube.

Then about a year after graduating from college in 2010, del Cid felt the urge to start playing with other musicians. Through some college connections, she was able to surround her-self with all the fittings of a folk rock band.

“I just jammed with peo-ple and figured out what I wanted,” she says.

Academics pay off

Though the Cidizens has plenty of musical talent, it was arguably because of del Cid’s focus on her studies that the band was able to get to where it is today.

Specifically, during her senior year at Fargo South del Cid was awarded a national grant from the Jackie Robinson Founda-tion to attend college. When she graduated from the U of M, she did so with the highest GPA of any Jackie Robinson scholar.

That meant she received another award – a $10,000 cash prize that she could use however she wanted.

“I was pretty fortunate that way,” del Cid says. “I was pretty engrossed in my studies in high school, so it paid off.”

She used much of that scholarship money to fund the recording of “blueprint, plans,” which she says is “selling well – better than I could have imagined.”

The Cidizens already have plans and material for a second album. Del Cid says she expects they’ll likely release it sometime this year.

In the band’s songs, Christensen says she can still hear the former stu-dent she knew so well at Fargo South.

“You can tell she’s smart,” Christensen says. “Her lyrics are clever and they’re funny. There are a few things I recognize from years and years ago.”

For del Cid, going into her first hometown con-cert, it isn’t how much she has in common with her past self that’s significant, but how much it’s differ-ent.

“If I were to go back and meet my high school self and bring her to my show, I think she’d be absolutely shocked,” del Cid says. “I never imagined when I left for college that I’d be com-ing back with a full band and an album.”

“It’s a big change,” she added. “I don’t know how it happened, but I’m glad it did.”