For a musician, Roger Clyne has had a good life. His band, the Refreshments, put out two brilliant rock albums in the ’90s that mixed the dirt and dust of their native Arizona, along with the strong Mexican culture. They caught some radio airplay with “Banditos,” (“I got the pistol, so I get the pesos/ Yeah, that seems fair”) and also wrote the twangy instrumental theme to the longtime Fox show, King of the Hill.
Clyne disbanded the Refreshments just when they were on the brink of superstardom. Not wanting his career dictated by the whims of some fat cat at a major label, Clyne instead founded Emma Java Recordings, retained many of the band members of the Refreshments, and began playing under the moniker Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. They have been doing so for the last 12 years, much to the delight of their small but ravenous fan base.
While the Peacemakers continue to convey much of the boyhood bravado that the Refreshments gleefully embodied, over the years, as Clyne and the boys have, dare I say, matured, issues such as mortality have crept into their repertoire. Clyne, who has always had a gigantic appreciation of life, is not afraid to boldly sing about it. Half of the band’s website is dedicated to helping the earth, helping other people, and helping yourself. Yet Clyne manages to not fall into the Michael Stipe “I know better than you so listen to me” approach.
Instead, Clyne’s music is about celebrating life. This is no more evident than at any Peacemakers show. Rednecks, hippies, and jocks all sing arm in arm and share from the same bottle of tequila that Clyne passes around. They sing along to every lyric as they bask in the party atmosphere; like a younger, much smaller, but slightly cooler crowd of Jimmy Buffet parrotheads. People share sweat and tequila. They dance with each other. They sway with each other, arm in arm. Maybe it’s because Clyne and company as much time singing about trips to Mexico and drinking as they do about the big stuff. Maybe it’s because Clyne’s genuine love of life and music is so contagious. Maybe his long, flowing black hair hypnotizes people. Maybe it’s that people still crave good old-fashioned, hard-driving rock music. Oh hell, maybe it’s just the tequila. Whatever the case, after two hours of boot stomping, beer swilling, rock ‘n’ roll, people leave drenched, exhausted, and loving life. If there is a better way to spend two hours, I do not know it.
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play Smith’s Olde Bar on October 16.