Archive for Freddy Fender

A Lone Star Christmas

Posted in Christmas with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2011 by 30daysout

Instead of reinventing the wheel this Christmas, let’s recycle a past post or two. Today, the holidays in the Lone Star State!

Christmas in Texas is pretty much like Christmas in any other place – except most of the time it’s hot, everybody’s playin’ football, people are barbecuing and drinking beer, there’s a lot of country music and blues and rock, and the stuffing has jalapenos in it.  Okay, it’s like no place else.

MP3: “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” by the Texas Tornados

MP3: “Merry Christmas From The Family” (live) by Robert Earl Keen

MP3: “Christmas Everyday” by Rosie Flores

MP3: “When It’s Christmas Time In Texas” by George Strait

MP3: “The Christmas Song” by Steve Fromholz

MP3: “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy” by Rev. Horton Heat

MP3: Stevie Ray Vaughan Holiday Greeting No. 1

MP3: “Rockin’ Winter Wonderland” by the Fabulous Thunderbirds

MP3: “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” by Rusty Wier

MP3: “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Lou Ann Barton

MP3: “Merry Christmas” by Lightnin’ Hopkins

MP3: “Frosty The Snowman” by Flaco Jimenez & Freddy Fender

MP3: “Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson

MP3: “Nothing But A Child” by Steve Earle & Allison Moorer

MP3: “Snow In Austin” by Ellis Paul

MP3: “Sweet Little Baby Boy” by Angela Strehli

MP3: “Winterlude” by Joe Ely

MP3: “Please Come Home For Christmas” by Marcia Ball

MP3: “She’ll Be My Everything For Christmas” by Los Lonely Boys

MP3: Stevie Ray Vaughan Holiday Greeting No. 2 (1989)



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.

Huey P. Meaux, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by 30daysout

Huey P. Meaux

Huey P. Meaux, the legendary and controversial Southeast Texas music producer who discovered the Sir Douglas Quintet, Freddy Fender, “Jivin’ Gene” Bourgeois and Barbara Lynn, died Saturday at the age of 82.

Meaux had been in federal prison since 1996, when a police raid of his Sugar Hill studios in Houston uncovered evidence that Meaux participated in child pornography, sex with underage females and drug possession. He skipped bail and ran to Mexico, but he finally gave up and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Meaux was released because of failing health and he lived in Winnie, where he died on Saturday.

Meaux, known as the “Crazy Cajun,” was a barber by trade and a radio DJ in Port Arthur, Texas, in the late 1950s. He would do a radio show on KPAC on Saturday afternoons, playing Cajun music for the transplanted coonasses who came to Texas to work at the oil refineries. One day Meaux got a visit from one of those refinery workers.

As Meaux told it, “He walked in with blue jeans and bare feet and these big thick glasses like Clark Kent. He wanted me to record his rock and roll band … I told him I didn’t know what the hell I was doing but if he was OK with that, then let’s get down to it.”

Huey Meaux's letterhead

The guy was Gene Bourgeois, soon to be known as “Jivin’ Gene.” In the old KPAC studio those days they had a Magnecord mono reel-to-reel, and Huey hung a ribbon mike from a boom. The drums, he put way back to keep them from overpowering everything and he put Bourgeois in the toilet to get the proper echo on his voice.

“Yeah, I really did sing in the shitter,” Bourgeois told me once. “But it was because I was so shy, I didn’t want anyone looking at me when I sang.” Anyway, the song was “Going Out With The Tide,” and after Huey sent it to Jin Records owner Floyd Soileau it became a regional hit. Jivin’ Gene’s next tune was produced by Meaux in Crowley (at J.D. Miller’s studio): “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” which is not the Neil Sedaka hit.

This song got more radio airplay, and eventually it was leased to Mercury Records, which put it out nationally. “Breakin’ Up” went to No. 69 on the pop charts in 1959, and Huey Meaux was on his way.

In 1962 Meaux produced a Beaumont singer, Barbara Lynn, and the song “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” which rose to No. 8 in the Billboard charts. Meaux also signed Big Sambo, whose “The Rains Came” was a modest hit and Sunny and the Sunliners, who got a nice chart ride with “Talk To Me.”

In 1965, Meaux heard a bunch of kids from San Antonio who played a weird mix of rock and roll and Mexican music; he noticed first that it was a lot like Cajun music and then that it kinda had the same beat that stuff like the Beatles and the other British Invasion groups were doing. So he told the boys, “Grow some hair and let’s go cut some of this shit,” and the Sir Douglas Quintet cut their very first hit, “She’s About A Mover,” in Houston. Meaux produced their hits until the band got freaky and moved to San Francisco in the late 1960s.

Huey Meaux, with unidentified artist (or secretary) sitting on his lap in the 1980s.

Meaux also revived the career of Freddy Fender, who was an ex-con with a mechanic’s job when he cut “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” in 1975. Also cut in Houston, the song was first released on Meaux’s Crazy Cajun label before being leased to Dot, and then it went all the way to No. 1 on the pop charts. “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” the followup, was also a Top 10 hit.

After Fender, Huey Meaux was content to cut regional artists in Texas and Louisiana. In 1984, Cajun/zydeco artist Rockin’ Sidney created “My Toot Toot” which got some airplay in the region and Meaux stepped in to get it signed to Epic Records, on which it rode into the country Top 40. It was the first zydeco record to get airplay on major rock, pop and country radio stations of the day.

Meaux always was loyal to his artists, and he never failed to offer a colorful story or two about working with them. His conviction and imprisonment was, like Phil Spector’s, a sad and pathetic end to a legendary music career.

MP3: “Going Out With The Tide” by Jivin’ Gene

MP3: “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Jivin’ Gene

MP3: “The Rains Came” by Big Sambo

MP3: “She’s About A Mover” by the Sir Douglas Quintet

Joe Nick Patoski article in Texas Monthly about Huey Meaux

YouTube: Huey Meaux on KPFT-FM, Houston, in 1974

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

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Review: “¡Esta Bueno!,” Texas Tornados

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by 30daysout

Springtime in Texas is tornado season, but you better get ready: we are now in Texas Tornado season.   Yes, the legendary Texas Tornados are back, with a new album and mucho appearances around the Lone Star state (including at SXSW).   ¡Esta Bueno! is the new album, featuring original Texas Tornados Augie Meyer and Flaco Jiménez and Shawn Sahm, son of the late great Doug Sahm.

The original Texas Tornados were, of course, the Tex-Mex supergroup formed in 1989 by legendary musician Doug Sahm, singer Freddy Fender, keyboardist Augie Meyer and the great norteño accordionist Flaco Jiménez.  Sahm died in 1999 and Fender passed in 2006, so when the two great voices of the Tornados left the planet, nobody thought a reunion was possible.

Nobody, except for Sahm’s son Shawn, who looks and sounds an awful lot like his dad.  He always says, “the Sahm family makes music – that is what we do,” and to honor the fallen Tornados Shawn Sahm instigated the reunion of the surviving Tornados for this new record.  And what a great album it is – ¡Esta Bueno! is not only a great party album, it’s a moving tribute to the late Sahm and Fender.

“Who’s To Blame, Señorita,” the joyous rocker that kicks off the album, not only manages to recreate the Texas Tornados sound, but also reminds us that the roots of that great sound were planted in the Sir Douglas Quintet.  Written by Shawn and his dad, the song demonstrates happily that the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.  “If I Could Only” resurrects Freddy Fender – literally – he sings on one of the last songs he ever wrote.  Fender reappears on “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like I Like,” and “Ahora Yo Voy,” as well as the countrified “Another Shot of Ambition.”

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