Live: Texas Tornados, Houston
No warnings were necessary as the Texas Tornados tore through Houston Thursday night, spawning dance-floor twisters with a raucous Tex-Mex blend of rock and roll. The Tornados are anchored by Lone Star music legends Augie Meyers (Vox organ) and Flaco Jiménez (accordion), who were among the original members of this band, and guitarist/singer Shawn Sahm, son of the late, great Doug Sahm.
This was a free show in the Bayou City’s beautiful Discovery Green park, and the Tornados attracted a sizable crowd that seemed ready to wash away the work week. The Tornados obliged with spicy rockers like “Adios Mexico,” Tejano ballads like “Volver” and stomping country rock like “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of?”
Sir Douglas Sahm was the architect of this type of music, and much of the evening was a celebration of his vision. The Sir Douglas Quintet classic “Anybody Goin’ To San Antone” and Meyers’ “Velma From Selma” are rabble-rousing stompers when the Tornados take a whirl through them. Singer Nunie Rubio and guitarist Louie Ortega performed beautifully on their tributes to the fallen Freddy Fender (also a Texas Tornados original member), “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and “Before The Next Teardrop Falls.”
Naturally the 71-year-old Jiménez got the lion’s share of the spotlight, because he is a walking Hall of Fame. Jiménez, who has played with everyone from Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones, teamed up with Rubio for the beautiful “Volver” and later, the goofy “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” And when handwritten notes passed up to the stage weren’t song requests, they were phone numbers or come-ons for Jiménez from various ladies in the audience. One note said “Will you meet me at the Motel 6?” and Jiménez asked, “What number?” Rubio was quick to jump in with “69,” to which Jiménez replied, “My favorite number.”
Meyers took the show into its homestretch with his lively “Hey Baby Que-Pa-So?” and the band wound it up with the rocker “Wooly Bully.” But there was one remaining piece of business, and the Tornados took care of it during the encore: a truly epic version of the Sir Douglas Quintet classic “She’s About A Mover.” Meyers explained, “This song was recorded in 1965 right here in Houston,” and the rockin’ groove and Sahm’s amazing “freaky guitar” fretwork left the crowd happy and satisfied. Friday morning’s trip to work was a shock to my system, because the Texas Tornados jukebox put me in a weekend frame of mind one day early.
When these guys come to your town, do yourself a favor and catch ’em. And if they are not coming to your town, at least pick up the great CD Live From Austin TX, with the original lineup playing the “Austin City Limits” TV show. It’s one of the finest Texas party albums ever made.
YouTube: “She’s About A Mover” at Sam’s Burger Joint, San Antonio
YouTube: “Velma From Selma” at Sam’s Burger Joint, San Antonio