Arizona singer-songwriter Roger Clyne and his band, the Peacemakers, were looking for a unique way to celebrate their latest album, “Unida Cantina.” So on April 16 the group held the Sombrero Solution, a concert during which it attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the most people wearing sombreros in one place at the same time.
And thanks to more than 1,600 attendees, it wound up smashing the existing record.
“It was silly and strange — but fun,” says Clyne, 43, though he adds that he wanted the stunt to also show his home state in a better light than it’s been portrayed in recent illegal alien issues and the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others during January in Tucson.
“Arizona has been portrayed ... as this place of divisiveness, if not bigotry and xenophobia, in our politics,” explains Clyne, who formed the Peacemakers in 1998 after his time in the band the Refreshments. “It’s really not like that here, and I wanted to see if I could affect some sort of solution.
“So we brought people together under the sombrero, the sort of symbol of the Southwest. You can personalize a sombrero, either proud and traditional or silly. So we had a ton of fun, and I think we made a statement, too.”
Clyne says he also finds himself standing up for Arizona while on the road, where his combination of rock and populist politics tends to open some minds.
“I understand how people might think we’re from an intolerant place, but it’s not like that,” Clyne says. “It’s easy to report that kind of stuff, but our Southwest has been a cultural confluence where many people come together for decades and decades.
“Yes, there’s been conflict — definitely lots of conflict between the Spaniards and Native Americans and white people. But it’s created the amazing cultural confluence that’s not like anywhere else in the world, and people here are proud and kind. I think that deserves some attention, too.”
Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers perform Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Eagle Theater, 15 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 day of show. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.
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