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The Song and Dance of Saving Lives

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During our interview Pablo Peregrina talked with an ease in grammar, leaving out words but maintaining continuous eye contact, and it’s understood that his words, while conveying all the pertinent information, aren’t really important.  His words don’t carry the gravity of his meaning.

Pablo is spirited, vibrant and talented.  He’s also the type of person to tell you what he thinks whether you want to hear it or not. That's a typical artist for you.

Pablo is anything but your typical artist, though.  A troubadour by trade, Pablo also volunteers at a number of Tucson faith-based charities that strive to limit the suffering for migrants crossing the desert from Mexico.

It’s his vitality when he’s talking excitedly about his new CD, or the way his eyes droop at the corners when he’s remembering a lost child, that conveys what volunteer work means to Pablo.

“I been with Humane Borders now for 4 and a half years”, Pablo said.  Humane Borders is one of a long list of human rights groups Pablo has been active with.
Derechos Humanos, No Mas Muertes, Salt of the Earth,” he said as he rattled off a few.  “They all had something to give, but just not as welcoming, you know?”

He gestured toward me an open hand as though to illustrate the importance of my understanding.
“They were radical,” Pablo said.

Courtesy of Pablo Peregrina

But once Peregrina saw a display by Humane Borders at an anniversary event they held. The baby strollers and shoes collected from the desert spurred him into action.

Besides being an avid humanitarian, the Sonoran-born Peregrina holds courtesy in high regard.  He’s overcome a lot to be who he is today, as an activist AND musician.
“I was a leftie,” Peregrina said, “I had to play upside down when I was 9 till about 14.”

While striving to maintain a relationship of mutual respect with fans and fellow musicians, Peregrina has had some misunderstandings along the way, and inadvertently lost friends and band mates alike

“My bassist,” Pablo said, “His father was from Massachusetts and used to joke,  I finally said ‘no more’.  I told him ‘I don’t want your dad at our performances anymore’."

Pablo also had a conga player whose brother was DEA and murdered by 'trafficos' and had come to resent ALL migrants, legal, illeagal, good and bad.

"He has learned to forgive," Pablo said.

Pablo finds it much easier to accomplish his musical career and convey his eye-opening messages solo.

“I’m a stray dog, I don’t got no pack,”  Pablo puts it plainly, “I live in the moment.”

Since then, he’s written “Shoe Song,”  inspired by the small footprints he had seen on one trip to Arivaca.  “No Color in Your Eyes” was Pablo’s commentary on racism he found to be occurring between U.S. Border and Customs and innocent but illegal migrants.

“I’m just searching to sing and express,” he said.

Peregrina also mentioned that his music might lead down a road of self-discovery.  When asked about his background, he replied, “I don’t know who I am.  'Yaqui, Azteca?'  The kid’s used to call me “negra”, ‘cause of my skin, so I started calling myself “Paul."

But Pablo has learned a lot since the days when he could let discrimination roll off his back.

“Now, I’m proud as hell of who I am.  My family makes jokes sometimes about the things that go on in the desert, and I check ‘em.  Nothing too serious though.”

He stood up after finishing a margarita and slapped me on the back heartily with a warm embrace.

“It’s a message now,” he said.

Written by Charles Golestani

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