Peter Dalton Ronstadt, or as he is better known around these parts, Petie Ronstadt, has been a staple of the Tucson music scene for years and there’s no wondering why. With his deft Americana stylings offering themselves well to a slew of original music as well as covers totally turned on their heads, he (and the Ronstadt Generations band that he fronts) is doing a fine job of keeping old-time Tucson music alive without being stale.
Tucsound’s Jonathan Frahm was happy to sit down with Petie earlier this month over local Savaya Coffee for the first of what will become many in our ’20 Favorites’ series. This fun feature works just as it says it does on the tin – we ask an artist about 20 of their favorite things in rapid succession, and they spill the deets!
Without further ado, let’s dive into Petie Ronstadt’s head and see what we can find about some of his favorite things…
1. Favorite fruit?
I don’t know if this is a favorite, but I’m gonna go with papaya with lime squeezed on it, and a little bit of salt. Or avocados.
2. Favorite vegetable?
Tomatoes. Tomatoes with mayonnaise.
3. Favorite dessert?
4. Favorite article of clothing in your closet?
Guayaberas. More specifically, a maroon guayabera that I have.
5. Favorite pair of pants?
For the lack of not knowing of any others, Levis.
6. Favorite color?
Blue, but like a complex blue, like something darker. Something that’s got some depth in it, with purple overtones. Like a dark periwinkle. Somewhere between periwinkle and navy. Something that speaks to your soul.
7. Favorite holiday?
Does Saturday count? I’m sticking with Saturday.
8. Favorite album?
If we’re gonna go all-time I’m gonna go on record and say Tom Petty’s ‘Wildflowers’ from 1994, produced by Rick Rubin. That is a constant go-to. That or Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’. If we’re gonna go modern- like recent records in the last five or ten years -I would give it to Abigail Washburn’s ‘City of Refuge’.
9. Favorite guilty pleasure song or album?
It shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure, but since it exists in the pop world I’m gonna say it’s a guilty pleasure. Adele. Right now I’m nerding out on ’25’. This is too much depth for rapid fire, but what I found remarkable with her ’21’ and ’19’ records was that she made a pop record using all organic instruments. Like if you listen to those records, it’s real drums, it’s hand-clapping, it’s acoustic guitars, it’s upright bass, it’s all of these organic, acoustic instruments making a pop record and I think that’s really cool. With ’25’, the aural landscape that they create- especially with “Hello” -I listen to that song and I get lost in her voice and the way the drums start off with no high end on ’em and by the end of the song they’ve got that whole range. The way they put that song together speaks to me as a recording engineer and a wannabe producer myself, it mystifies me, that aural atmosphere.
10. Favorite book?
People’s History of the United States of America. It just happens to be a book I occasionally just decide to go read again. I think it’s a very interesting telling of our American history, not in the perspective as we are traditionally taught as in we are the good guys in every situation. By telling the story of our country from the point of view of people who are being oppressed at any given point in history, whether that be African-Americans, women, or the LGBT community, it’s a way of understanding our history from the point of view where it’s not always perfect and we could strive to make it better. I credit my junior year AP American History teacher for making us read that book. That’s where I first got into it and I’ve been getting back into it over the years ever since.
11. Favorite season?
Well, since we only have two here… I’m gonna go with the non-existent seasons in Tucson since they really do exist and they’re just really short-lived. Spring and fall for different reasons. I like spring because of the wildflowers and the colors. People think of the desert and they think brown, but I think we have the most diverse tapestry of colors when you drive up the valley in spring.
12. Favorite animal?
The ruffed white lemur is Annabelle, my daughter’s, favorite at the zoo right now. A dog is mine – more specifically, Australian heelers. I love Aussie heelers, I think they’re fantastic. If I were ever to get a dog again, that’s what it’s gonna be, but I love my cats too, you know. They’re wonderful! Dino and Meekah, if you read this, you’re my favorites.
13. Favorite movie?
I’m gonna get a little controversial because I know the right answer is ‘Empire Strikes Back’, but I find that ‘Return of the Jedi’ was my favorite ‘Star Wars’ movie growing up. Even though I know ‘Empire Strikes Back’ is the better movie, I still have an affinity for ‘Return of the Jedi’, Ewoks and all.
14. Favorite city in the United States?
Aside from Tucson? Tucson is my favorite, but San Francisco is definitely a city I never could afford but I always enjoy.
15. Favorite subject in school?
Math. I was a big fan of trigonometry and a big fan of calculus. I love English and history now because I write lyrics, but in school I did not like it so much. Why, I don’t know? But math! Math was my thing.
16. Favorite city outside of the United States?
I’m fascinated by Conwy, North Wales because it’s a Roman walled city and it’s still a walled city. The castle’s still in-tact and it’s remarkable to be in places that have been in existence since before our country was a country, you know? It’s living in history.
17. Another favorite city outside of the United States is..
I also really like Dublin, mainly because the people are just so kind. I remember standing on the streets of Dublin with my dad. We had our guitars, we had suitcases and we were waiting for a bus and someone came all the way down from their apartment to let us know that we had the wrong bus to get to the airport. We were actually trying to get to the ferry and he said we were fine in that case and he explained all of the stops that we wanted. People took time out of their way to make sure we were headed the right direction and made sure we got where we needed to be. Oftentimes in other cities, I feel like people feel like they don’t have the time to do that, or don’t want to do that. It made me feel good about humanity knowing there’s still people in that world knowing that they would take time out of their day for us.
18. Favorite pastime?
I would say recording but that’s part of what I do in my career so it’s not really a pastime. My wife and I love exploring Tucson and seeing the things that our city has to offer, as well as the surrounding area. I feel like I hear from too many people that there’s nothing to do in Tucson, and it doesn’t take a lot to see what there really is to do in this town. We make it a point to find new places and things to do here all the time to prove that that isn’t true, that there are things to do here. So I’d say that classifies as a pastime – finding new parks to hang out at, new restaurants to visit, new coffee shops to see. There’s a lot to do in Tucson. It’s a cool place.
19. Favorite brain food?
I don’t know if this is great brain food, but I have two foods that are fallbacks for me and one of them in Tucson is burritos because you can always get a good burrito. Whether it be a breakfast burrito or a carne asada burrito or whatever, it’s always good here. My favorite countrywide, or worldwide, because you can generally get them everywhere is the hamburger. I don’t know why, but when I was a vegetarian I missed the hamburger more than I missed steak. I have a hamburger a week, so there’s that. Nice burger cooked medium with mayonnaise and ketchup, with cheddar and maybe grilled onions if you’re feeling groovy.
20. Greatest inspirations?
My grandfather, my father, and his three siblings are all inspirational for their own unique reasons, but they’ve all contributed to what I do today, so Susie, Peter, Linda, Michael, and Gilbert Ronstadt are my topmost inspirations in life.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm