Roger Clyne and the Refreshments Return to the Stage at Circus Mexicus
The Refreshments are back. The fizzy, fuzzy, big, and buzzy '90s band behind the hit "Banditos" is scheduled to reunite for one show only — but not in their home state or even their home country. The good news is that the gig is only as far away as Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, as part of Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers' Circus Mexicus festival.
Clyne began Circus Mexicus in Rocky Point about 14 years ago, and in the years since, it's grown from a single night of music into a four-day extravaganza of bands, soccer, jam sessions, charitable events, and private-label tequila. It's fitting that the Refreshments' reunion is the festival highlight, since Clyne says all he really wanted to do when the Refreshments were a hit-making band was play music on the beach.
"I just wanted to do a gig down there," he explains by phone from his tour bus, somewhere in the Midwest. "I've been going down there since I was a kid, and a lot of the adventures and characters I feature in my songs have roots there. But [the Refreshments'] management and booking couldn't see any wisdom in it. It wasn't until the band went independent and the Peacemakers formed that we had the autonomy to do it."
That said, the focus this year has centered on the Refreshments' first gig in 15 years. The band, which also included drummer Paul "PH" Naffah, bassist Arthur Eugene "Buddy" Edwards, and guitarist Brian Blush, dissolved under the weight of internal struggles, many revolving around Blush's difficulties with the "typical trappings of rock 'n' roll," as he puts it.
"There were drugs, there were women, there was gambling. A lot of that stuff fell into my lap," Blush says from Nashville, where he now resides. "I was young and believed in the Keith Richards school of thought that if your band has a record, you party like a rock star. I took that to the nth degree and it became a cog in my life. I was young and stupid and regret those decisions. It was a difficult time toward the end, and it took me some time to pull out of it, but I did."
For a while, it looked like a reunion could never happen. Too much bad blood was spilled.
"It was definitely not an amicable split when everything went down," Blush says. "I was a difficult guy to deal with at the time, for sure."
Then Blush and Clyne met up in a Midwest club (Clyne thinks it was Michigan, Blush says Indiana) and resolved their differences.
"A friend of mine, unbeknownst to me, asked if I wanted to go hang out at some bar," Blush recalls. "So we pull up and [the Peacemakers] are playing. He sort of set this up for me to make peace with Roger."
"He just kind of surprised us in some little town," Clyne recalls. "It was just good to bury the hatchet. He got up on stage and played a couple of tunes and it really felt good. We kept in touch and PH and I were talking about getting together one more time and having a good get-together instead of a bad band scene."
Edwards declined to join the reunion, citing a desire to remain focused on writing books. Peacemaker Nick Scropos fills that hole with Buddy's blessing, Clyne says.
Fans had best get their passports in order.
"At this point in time, I'm considering this a one-off. I don't have any long-term plans," Clyne says. "I want to go away from this feeling good and have a sense of accomplishment together. My plan is just to do the show and that's it."
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