Archive for Doug Sahm

Texas Thanksgiving – Live from the Armadillo

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by 30daysout

Armadillo World HQ poster by Jim Franklin

Editor’s Note: This is a blog post that originally appeared in 2010, repeated here in case you can’t get home to the Armadillo this holiday season.

Long as I can remember, the corner of Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road in Austin, Texas,  has been a Thanksgiving Day oasis.  Today of course that’s the location of Threadgill’s World Headquarters, a down-home restaurant with killer chicken-fried steak and the best tattooed waitresses in town.  And yes, they are open on Thanksgiving Day: usually the place is packed by 11 a.m. and although no reservations are necessary you can expect to wait at least an hour before being seated.

Doug Sahm in the 1990s (Photo by Scott Newton/KRLU)

This Threadgill’s is also the living descendant of the legendary Armadillo World Headquarters, the city’s top music venue in the 1970s and the spiritual heart of the Austin music scene.  Many of the top touring acts of the era played there, as well as Lone Star legends like Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, Joe Ely, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jerry Jeff Walker, Delbert McClinton and many more.  One of the house favorites was Doug Sahm, the unofficial State Musician of Texas.

In 1972 Sahm decided to look up some of his friends and play a giant Thanksgiving show at the Armadillo.  He enlisted a who’s who of Austin musicians and added ace keyboardist Leon Russell.  Then he learned the Grateful Dead would be in town for a gig the night before; Sahm and the Dead went back a ways, so he gave them a call too.

Armadillo World HQ, back in the day (Photo by Steve Hopson)

So on November 23, 1972, Doug Sahm and his all-star band – including the Dead’s Jerry Garcia on steel guitar and Phil Lesh on bass – took the stage at the Armadillo and delivered a sonic feast of country, R&B, early rock ‘n’ roll, honky tonk, blues, bluegrass and Bob Dylan.  Somebody in the house had the foresight to roll tape from the soundboard, the recording of that show has been a sought-after souvenir for many years.

Thanks to a number of sources (mainly the excellent blog The Adios Lounge) you can download and hear the entire show here.  Think of it as a little thank-you gift to you, our loyal readers.  Being a soundboard recording from the early 1970s, the sound isn’t perfect but it’s a great way to celebrate a holiday.  The full set list is included in the download, and we’ll give you a few samples so you can decide if you want the whole meal.

Thanksgiving Jam samples

MP3: “Wild Side Of Life”

MP3: “Me and Bobby McGee”

MP3: “Swingin’ Doors”

MP3: “Roll Over Beethoven/Good Golly Miss Molly”

The Full Show (ZIP file)

MP3: Doug Sahm’s Thanksgiving Jam, 11/23/1972 entire show (269 MB)

Armadillo photo by Steve Hopson – here is his website

From “Armadillo Comix” by Jaxon

Video Du Jour: Sir Douglas Quintet

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on July 16, 2012 by 30daysout

It may seem like we run a video featuring this song once a month, but we can never get enough Sir Doug. Here, of course, is “Mendocino,” this time as performed on the classic TV show “Playboy After Dark.”

This one has a vintage of 1969 … dig those groovy dancers!

Live: Texas Tornados, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on October 7, 2011 by 30daysout

The great Flaco Jiménez

We’ve written about this act before, probably too many times, but there is no way around it: the Texas Tornados are a great live act. Anchored by guitarist/singer Shawn Sahm (son of the late, very great Doug Sahm), keyboardist Augie Meyers and the very, very great accordionist Flaco Jiménez, the Tornados bring some Texas thunder every place they play.

Thursday night under a perfect sky, and with Houston’s gleaming skyline in the background, the Tornados played a free show in Discovery Green park that drew one of the season’s biggest and most enthusiastic crowds. Of course, the ladies gravitated to Jiménez – even though he’s 72 years old, he gets his fair share of flirtatious notes and greetings from women. He got his own spotlight, with the favorite “In Heaven There Is No Beer,” the polka warhorse given some Mexican spice by Flaco’s deft accordion work.

Shawn Sahm

One lady held up a sign “Flaco for President,” and Sahm mused how great that would be … peace talks could be held at a Miller Lite brewery somewhere, he said.

Much of the band’s set was dedicated of course to the late Sir Douglas Sahm and Freddy Fender, the powerhouse personalities who founded the Tornados way back in 1989. Singer Nunie Rubio sang Fender’s classic “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and although no one can match Fender’s singular singing style, Rubio did a fine and credible job. Organ player Augie Meyers held his own with “Dinero,” “Velma from Selma” and his own crowd favorite “Hey Baby (Que Pa So).”

The set featured many of the band’s trademark tunes that fuse rock, country and Tex-Mex, including “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of?” and “Adios Mexico.” This time, though, they dipped a little deeper in the Sir Douglas Quintet catalog and pulled out gems like “Nuevo Laredo,” “Texas Tornado” and the stone classic “Mendocino.” They also played crazy accordion-laced versions of “Wooly Bully” and the Southeast Texas classic “Matilda.” And it wouldn’t be Houston if the band didn’t wrap it with “She’s About A Mover,” the Sir Doug anthem first recorded in Houston way back in 1965.

At the end of the show, after the ovations, Jiménez paused to address the crowd. First he reminded everyone to visit the CD/T-shirt table, and plugged his new solo CD … which he said was going to be his last. “It’s time to hang it up,” he said, and although he didn’t seem to rule out playing live Jiménez made it clear he is ready to slow down.

So let’s wish him well – Flaco Jiménez is a five-time Grammy Award winner who’s recorded with everyone from the Mavericks to the Rolling Stones, and he is a classic Texas performer. Hope we can see him play live a few more times before he hangs it up for good.

YouTube: “Mendocino” by the Texas Tornados (from Antone’s in Austin)

Texas Tornados official website

Augie Meyers, with bassist Speedy Sparks and Shawn Sahm.

YouTube: “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of?” (from Texas Music Scene TV)

Nice night under the skyscrapers of Houston.

Video Du Jour: Texas Tornados

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on July 9, 2011 by 30daysout

Taking a little break here, yeah it’s vacation but it’s also gonna be a wild week in New York City. Surely we’ll find something that is worth posting about next week …

In the meantime, please feel free to enjoy this version of “Mendocino,” the Sir Douglas Quintet classic covered by the beloved Texas Tornados with Augie Meyer, Flaco Jimenez and Sir Doug’s very own son Shawn Sahm. Best enjoyed under a big Texas summer moon, but any way is great.

Houston, the Action Town

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , on January 22, 2011 by 30daysout

In a few months the world (at least, that part of the world which still listens to real music) will turn its ears toward Austin, Texas, for the annual mecca of indie/alt/punk/experimental/folk/whatever acts called South by Southwest.  We love Austin and all, but that’s not why we’re here today.

No, we want to talk a bit about our hometown – Houston.  Contrary to popular impression, Houston’s actually a rockin’ place. It’s a BIG rockin’ place. Yes, Houston is one of the biggest cities in the country and we do have all of the good and bad stuff that comes with being a huge metropolis. The one thing Houston doesn’t have, apparently, is a rock and roll identity like our neighbors to the west. (By the way, for those of you who’ve never been to Texas, Austin is a much smaller place than Houston. Houston could put Austin in its jeans pocket – just sayin’.)

So let’s take a little whirlwind tour of Houston, to share with you good folks some of the great stuff we have here.

A mural in Houston's House of Blues featuring, from left: Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins and Albert Collins.

Some really cool people are identified with Houston.  Yes, ZZ Top calls Houston its hometown.  So does Beyonce.  If you’re a regular reader here, you’ve seen me talk about Lightnin’ Hopkins, born and raised in Houston and lived here.  Johnny “Guitar” Watson was born here, too. But many rockin’ people at one point or another called Houston their headquarters – Big Mama Thornton, Albert Collins, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Gatemouth Brown, Clifton Chenier, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson and many more. In fact, Houston is known as a “blues capital.” Down here we still celebrate Juneteenth with a festival; in the past it’s featured Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

It could also be a country-folk capital.  Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen are Houston natives, and great songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Lucinda Williams and Johnny Bush have held residencies in Houston.  Hell, Willie Nelson was living in Houston when he wrote three of his greatest songs: “Night Life,” “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Crazy.”

What used to be Gold Star Studio is located in Houston. The studio was the place where people like Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Sir Douglas Quintet, George Jones, the Big Bopper, Roy Head and Freddy Fender cut the big hits that made them stars. In the 1960s, the studio was the hub for Houston-based record label International Artists Record Company and served as the main studio for clients like the 13th Floor Elevators, the Red Krayola, Bubble Puppy, The Bad Seeds and the Moving Sidewalks (featuring young Billy Gibbons). Because of that, you can make a convincing argument that Houston is right up there with San Francisco as one of the birthplaces of psychedelic music. The studio name was changed to Sugar Hill Studios by producer Huey P. Meaux in the 1970s, and it’s still a happenin’ place for local bands as well as visiting superstars.

"The Beatles" by David Adickes - You got something like this in your city? Well, do ya?

We have this huge four-part statue, “The Beatles,” by local sculptor David Adickes.  Each Fab Four member is about four stories tall, and right now they reside in a storage area near downtown while they wait to be moved to a more prominent area.  We also have a House of Blues – nice music and OK restaurant.  You know that famous club in Austin, the Continental Club?  Well, we have one too.

For more than half a century, Houston has hosted one of the largest rodeo events in the world. And each year the event features country, soul, Tejano, pop and rock artists playing right after the Chuck Wagon Races.  (You ever been to a Chuck Wagon Race?  Awesome.) At the rodeo we’ve seen Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, the Texas Tornados and – way back in 1974 – Elvis Presley.  This year, we have tickets to see KISS – and they were only 18 bucks apiece.

For many years the rodeo took place in the cavernous Astrodome, home not only to the Astros baseball team and the Oilers football team but also a venue for demolition derbies (Evel Knievel jumped a bunch of cars there), basketball tournaments (UH vs. UCLA, 1968, featuring Elvin Hayes and Lew Alcindor), tennis (Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs, 1973), pro wrestling (Wrestlemania VII, 2001) and a veritable butt-load of rock and roll including the Rolling Stones, U2, Metallica & Guns n’ Roses on the same bill, the Texxas Jam, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Madonna.  We saw “The Biggest Party in History” in 1989 with the Who and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Bob Dylan’s “Night of the Hurricane” in 1976.  And in 2005 more than 25,000 refugees from New Orleans bunked in at the Dome after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their city.

Continue reading

Two Texas legends get official markers

Posted in News with tags , , , on November 17, 2010 by 30daysout

Lightnin' Hopkins and his official marker from the State of Texas

Two of Texas’ greatest musical legends have received permanent markers in their respective home towns, signs that share their legends with visitors.  Bluesman Sam “Lightnin'” Hopkins received an official Texas State Historical marker in Houston’s Third Ward, while legendary rock and roller Doug Sahm got a permanent marker atop the hill named after him in Austin.

The colorful marker now atop Doug Sahm Hill

Hopkins, who died in 1982, is only the second Texas blues great to get a marker – his mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson has one near the presumed site of his grave in Wortham, Texas.  Lightnin’ is of course the seminar guitar-playing bluesman who influenced such greats as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  His marker weighs more than 75 pounds and stands about six feet tall.  It is located on the grounds of Project Row Houses in Houston’s Third Ward (near the intersection of Dowling and Francis streets), where “The King of Dowling Street” spent most of his time.

Meanwhile, friends and family of the late Sir Douglas Sahm gathered in Butler Park to unveil a permanent marker that resides atop Doug Sahm Hill.  Shawn Sahm of the Texas Tornados and Shandon Sahm, Sir Doug’s sons, were joined by Austin artist Kerry Awn, who designed the marker, and a large crowd to pay tribute to Doug Sahm, the singer/songwriter who died in 1999.  Sahm led the Sir Douglas Quintet in the mid-1960s, then had a fruitful solo career before organizing the Lone Star supergroup Texas Tornados around 1990.

Now that some of Texas’ legendary musicians have been honored in their home state (Stevie Ray Vaughan has a statue in Austin’s Auditorium Shores park), one can only wonder how long it will take these worthy musicians to find a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

MP3: “Mr. Charlie” (Part 1) by Lightnin’ Hopkins

MP3: “Mr. Charlie” (Part 2) by Lightnin’ Hopkins

MP3: “Houston Chicks” by Doug Sahm

MP3: “Little Bit Is Better Than Nada” by the Texas Tornados

YouTube: Lightnin’ Hopkins historical marker dedication

Live: Texas Tornados, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by 30daysout

Texas Tornados blowin' through Houston's Discovery Green park

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.

Our review of new album ¡Esta Bueno!

Texas Tornados official website

YouTube: “She’s About A Mover” at Sam’s Burger Joint, San Antonio

YouTube: “Velma From Selma” at Sam’s Burger Joint, San Antonio

Video of the Week: “Mendocino,” the Texas Tornados

Posted in News with tags , , on September 13, 2010 by 30daysout

From 1992, a classic: “Mendocino,” the oldie from the Sir Douglas Quintet, performed by the Texas Tornados in Gruene Dance Hall in Gruene, Texas.  The Tornados included ex-Sir Douglas Quintet keyboardist Augie Meyers, Tejano accordion player Flaco Jimenez, the late, great Freddy Fender and the equally great (and late) Sir Douglas Sahm.

The Texas Tornados are gonna play a free show in Houston, Sept. 23 at the Discovery Green downtown park.   They then go to San Antonio to headline Lone Star beer’s “Bash at the Brewery” on Sept. 25.

Texas Tornados official website

Our Guide to the Essential Texas Party Albums

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2010 by 30daysout

More than once someone has asked, “If I wanted to throw a party at my house and I wanted that Texas sound, what should I play?”  Well if your house is in Buffalo, New York, then you can play the Goo Goo Dolls and probably half the crowd would say “Yeah, that’s Texas.”  Hopefully the other half would correctly recognize the Goo Goos are a local band from Buffalo.

And unfortunately that’s sort of the situation here in Texas.  This state has many transplants who really couldn’t identify a true Texas artist outside the obvious (Willie Nelson, Dixie Chicks).  So I’m stepping up to your service, a native Texan with a working knowledge of our state’s great artists, with a collection of albums made by our native boys and girls.  And true to Texas, you can ask someone else from around here and they’ll come up with a completely different list – and want to kick the ass of the guy who came up with this one.  So let’s party and forget where you got this list:

1. Texas Tornados Live From Austin TX – Recorded for the venerable TV show “Austin City Limits” in 1990, by the supergroup featuring Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyers and Flaco Jimenez.  A brilliant gumbo pot of blues, country, Tejano and rock and roll with memory-tugging versions of Fender’s “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” the Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About A Mover” and a rollicking “96 Tears,” this single CD spans the incredible breadth of Texas music.   It’s worth the price of admission just to hear Fender sing “Baby What You Want Me To Do.”  This CD is a party all by itself.

MP3: “Who Were You Thinking Of” (live at Austin City Limits) by the Texas Tornados

2. The “Chirping” Crickets – When four Lubbock boys cut this album way back in 1957, they had no idea how much this music would transform the world.  Songs like “Oh Boy!,” “Not Fade Away” and “That’ll Be The Day” made their writer and singer Buddy Holly a star and the latter would become a hit.  This is the birth of rock and roll as we have come to know it – written and performed by members of a rock band.  In fact, the record caught the ears of four young musicians in Liverpool, and in a few more years the world would change yet again.

MP3: “Oh Boy!” by Buddy Holly & the Crickets

3. Texas Flood – Okay, we can’t get too deep into the list without name checking the late, very great Stevie Ray Vaughan.  He was perhaps no more electrifying than on his 1983 debut.  Texas Flood was instantly a success, and one of the most popular blues albums ever recorded, but Vaughan was more than a mere blues artist.  His technique and ability on the guitar instantly put him toe-to-toe with legends like Hendrix and Clapton – and since his death in 1990 virtually nobody has even come close to Stevie Ray.

MP3: “I’m Cryin'” by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

4. Honeysuckle Rose: Music From The Original Soundtrack Yeah, it’s a soundtrack.  And yeah, it has the dreaded “On The Road Again.”   But it’s prime Willie Nelson, recorded in 1980 live as the movie was being made.  It has the hell-raising energy of Nelson’s best Texas roadhouse shows, as he and his rockin’ band charge through classics like “Whiskey River,” “Bloody Mary Morning” and the whacked-out anthem “Pick Up The Tempo.”  Guest appearances by Texas legends Hank Cochran and Kenneth Threadgill are a bonus, and I swear you won’t even notice the songs featuring better-seen-and-not-heard actresses Amy Irving and Dyan Cannon.

MP3: “Pick Up The Tempo” by Willie Nelson & Family

Continue reading

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Rick Danko

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by 30daysout

Riffling through my big sister’s stack of records I found an album that many people would consider a lost classic: Rick Danko, the 1977 solo debut album from the bass player and singer from the Band.  It was the first solo LP by a member of that beloved group, which had famously disbanded the year before with its “Last Waltz” concert in San Francisco.

And of all the solo projects by the members of the Band, only Rick Danko features each member of the group.  Other friends and guests included Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Doug Sahm, Blondie Chaplin (then of the Beach Boys), Gerry Beckley (of America) and David Paich (who would later become part of Toto).  Danko wrote most of the tracks with lyrics by actor/comedian Emmett Grogan and Louisiana singer/songwriter Bobby Charles, who was a friend of the Band.

Many people have said this is the best solo effort by any member of the Band, but I think those assessments were made before Levon Helm’s more recent success (Dirt Farmer, Electric Dirt).  Rick Danko would certainly rank up there among the best, though.

Songs like the opener “What A Town,” “New Mexico” and “Small Town Talk” – all co-written with Charles – sound most like the Band.  “What A Town” is an uptempo lope a lot like “Ophelia” and Ron Wood, who was in the Rolling Stones by this time, contributes a sweet guitar solo.  Another highlight is “New Mexico,” flavored by the accordion of Garth Hudson and the guitar of Eric Clapton.

“Tired of Waiting” sounds a lot like a Doug Sahm tune, and in fact Sir Doug himself lays down some vocal harmonies and a guitar solo on this track.  When Bobby Charles did “Small Town Talk” on his own solo album he took an almost acoustic, singer/songwriterly approach.  Danko’s version of the song lays on the horns for fuller production – and Danko himself plays lead guitar on this highlight.

Robbie Robertson takes a turn on guitar with “Java Blues” and it’s one of his better solo riffs.  By the time Levon Helm lends his singular vocal twang to harmonies on “Once Upon A Time,” you can close your eyes and hear the Band at Woodstock.  But that was the final tune on the album – although a rich experience, it seems very short to me.

Danko would of course be part of the reunion of the Band (minus Robertston) in the 1990s.  After Richard Manuel’s suicide, Danko and Helm handled most of the vocals on the three studio albums under the Band imprint.  Danko also cut a few folk-oriented albums with singer/songwriter Eric Andersen and Norwegian roots artist Jonas Fjeld and one of them, Danko/ Fjeld/ Andersen from 1991, won a Grammy Award.  Danko would tour with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and cut a few more solo albums before his death in 1999.

MP3: “What A Town”

MP3: “Java Blues”

MP3: “Once Upon A Time”

The Band official website (with extensive info on all the members’ solo projects)