Arizona rockers Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers have a couple of pretty solid reasons to celebrate this weekend:
- It’s Cinco de Mayo, and while Mexico may not hold it in such high party esteem, we here in Arizona act like it’s a national (drinking) holiday.
- It’s been 20 years since frontman Clyne and bandmate Paul “P.H.” Naffah rechristened their popular major-label Tempe band The Refreshments and headed out on a new indie path as Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers.
And on Saturday, May 4, the eve of Cinco de Mayo, Clyne and the band return to one of their early Tucson haunts The Rock to bring it all together.
“We go way back with the Rock. Matter of fact, we go way back to The Refreshments days,” Tucson native Clyne, 51, said earlier this week. “I remember it was a big deal to finally get a gig there and it was before any record label interest or any real popularity. It was a marquee place to play and I remember being really excited to get the gig and I am equally excited again.”
For the last couple of Cinco de Mayos, Clyne and company have played the parking lot of Maloney’s on North Fourth Avenue. But now that the club is facing the wrecking ball to make way for apartments, Maloney’s moved the party to The Rock, in the shadow of the University of Arizona, where the band has some pretty devoted fans.
And those fans will be excited to know that Clyne and Co. have dusted off their first two Peacemakers’ albums — “Honky Tonk Union” and “Real to Reel” — and remastered them into a double-vinyl 20th anniversary project.
Clyne said the band made the records right after leaving the major label world of big studios. He described himself and his bandmates as rookies tiptoeing into an arena — recording and producing — where they had limited exposure.
Clyne said he listens to those records now and he can hear the songwriting and production glitches and miscues, but he also hears a purity of spirit as much as sound.
On reflection 20 years later, “I was astonished at the risks I took as a songwriter back then and the mistakes I made,” he said. “I was really glad I took both. I wouldn’t change anything. There are mistakes in there that I made then that I wouldn’t make again, and there are risks I was taking as a writer that were kind of scary at the time, but I’m glad they became part of the body of work.”
Clyne and the Peacemakers have never fully put “Honky Tonk Union” or “Real to Reel” on the shelf in their live shows. They have always drawn from the full breadth of the band’s work, from the three albums they recorded in the 1990s as The Refreshments to the 11 albums they’ve released as the Peacemakers.
“We never walked away from any of those songs. We have played our entire catalogue going back to (The Refreshments’) ‘Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy’ album,” Clyne said. “Ever since we have been touring, I have not abandoned any of that music. I’m proud of most of our body of work and we mix it all up and throw it all in there all of the time.”
In between the memories and Mexican Moonshine — Cline’s brand of tequila — Cline said he gets a chance to reconnect with the city of his birth and the place where he wishes he could spend more time.
“I love playing Tucson; it’s kind of special,” he said. “Tucson still has so much soul and history. And people there really appreciate and exude that. It doesn’t have the commercial ferocity of Phoenix and I really kind of resonate more with the vibe of the Old Pueblo.”