It was a dark school night of March when Dorin the Cougar showed me the full extent of her groupiness (in the spiritual sense, not Pamela De Barres way – which would make this post much juicier but even cougars have morals nowadays. sigh.) I had had hints of her fierce rock ‘n roll attitude in the past but had never really had the pleasure to witness it first hand.
For her birthday week-end, Dorin had driven more than 200 miles to Oklahoma City on Friday to catch a concert of Roger Clyne and the Peacemaker (RCPM for the initiated – and I will consider you initiated for the rest of this story), then had come back to Dallas on Saturday to attend The Old 97’s gig, and on Sunday night, she picked me up and drove another 40 miles to go see… RCPM play AGAIN! Thank goodness for the environment it’s not her birthday very often!
After duly plugging my ears and breathing a set of second hand smoke from The Drams (good but hellbent on destroying lung tissue), I saw Dorin head to the bar and order tequila shots in anticipation of the main event – the shots, not for her… but for front man Roger Clyne. Along the edge of the stage, tiny glasses began to appear from all directions. A tradition. A bit like buying beer for the sushi chef in a mark of appreciation. But beforehand. The atmosphere was quite friendly. People seemed to recognize each other from previous shows, and were exchanging hellos and knowing smiles. Dude, love was in the air.
Then… there was Tim. Young blond Tim with the huge sombrero. Tim who was celebrating his birthday. Tim who knew no one at the beginning of the show and was everybody’s best friend at the end (but I doubt he remembers any of this very clearly.)
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers were born out of the ashes of the Refreshments (think “Banditos” or the King of the Hill’s theme song.) The band split in 98 not through lack of talent, but unsupported by new management at Mercury records, and plagued by various personal problems of band members (think rock ‘n roll: drugs and nervous breakdowns.)
When offers from other record companies did not pile up in the mail, freshly unRefreshed Roger Clyne, a ranger’s son who majored in anthropology and psychology at Arizona State, and P.H. Naffah, the quiet drummer with the pre-med degree, packed backpacks and guitars and set out to the desert near Tucson in search of a new direction. The soul searching venture was to last the biblical 40 days… but it got hot and they ended up in a bar after 17 days (which Roger deemed plenty.) They took the resulting songs to Phoenix bars for happy hours, and fairly rapidly received an enthusiastic response from the audience. The band with the name of a Colt bringing out peace was created.
Three other musicians joined the Peacemakers through natural circumstances, almost by accident. Gin Blossoms’ clean-cut Scotty Johnson on guitar, consummate rebel guitarist “Dirty” Steve Larson from the defunct Dead Hot Workshop, and a walking music encyclopedia, bassist Danny White who brought his country sensibility to the Peacemakers. The odd quintet boarded a van (dubbed rolling germ tube by P.H.) and hit the road with Jamie Lee, the road manager.
J Boots (a hottie in his own right)
In the end, I understand better now why my buddy Dorin shows so much interest in this band. I’m converted (in a non-practicing sort of way.) More than anything, these are lovable good guys that play intelligent organic rock (I mean organic in the sense that they don’t rely on any fancy shmancy clicktracks or samplings – it’s just the four dudes with vocals, guitars, bass and drums… and J Boots being thrown on stage with a trumpet occasionally.) They do it the hard way, trying to ride a very fine line between art and being able to pay their bills, and it’s in my nature to root for the underdogs (especially quality mutts.)
After the show, they hang out a bit, talking to the fans and letting them take pictures.
Dorin and P.H.
Dorin and Roger
Roger and Dorin in 1996! They haven’t changed a bit! Hee! Hee!
After the photo op, it was time to go home, but then our good friend Tim showed up, walking what seemed to be a winding sidewalk, and crushing his sombrero on the wall for balance while his poor loyal pal tried to put some sense into him: “Tim, man, you’ll be plastered all over the net tomorrow!” Well it took a little longer than that… but to prove your friend right, here it is:
Just time to take another one of Tim with fans who were lining up to have their picture taken with the infamous birthday boy…
For the people who regularily read my blog, you’re probably wondering about my subject matter this time. Not exactly my usual stuff. I just had so much fun at their concert I felt it would be a good thing to spread the love. Their next gig in Dallas is on May 9th, 2009, at House of Blues… but a word of caution to the newbies out there, I have first dibs on front row. I would not want the love to come back and bite me in the bottom either.
I have pillaged many many sources to write this sprawling piece of more or less random facts: the brain of Dorin and her Troublemaker friends, the Canadian documentary “Long Ride Home”, The article “Tequila-Fueled Tunes” from High Country News, the interview of Roger Clyne by Keith Howardson from Americana Music Times, fan posts, and other articles I failed to bookmark because I’m imperfect. Alas.
See y’all at House of Blues!