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September 2010 Archives

September 17, 2010

Texas Tornado: The Times & Music of Doug Sahm (Jan Reid with Shawn Sahm)

As a child he was a steel guitar prodigy who once sat in the lap of Hank Williams. He was there at the start of the San Francisco music scene when the Grateful Dead were called the Warlocks. He had his own group called the Sir Douglas Quintet. At first they were paraded around as one of the British Invasion groups but they weren't British - they were from San Antonio, Texas. He hung out with Bob Dylan. He was a hippie, a cosmic cowboy and occassionally a redneck. He was once named Chicano of the year by Rolling Stone (he wasn't Chicano). In the 70's he helped spark a music scene in Austin, Texas that would generate fans worldwide. His name? Doug Sahm of course. Now we have a long overdue biography which explores the incredible life of this music trailblazer. Written by veteran Texas writer Jan Reid with assistance from Doug's musically talented son Shawn, we get a view into the life of one of this state's musical treasures. Though Reid focuses on the man's immense talents as a musician, he doesn't gloss over Sahm's failings (artistically and otherwise) which leads to a fuller picture of the man. Though Sahm's songs were not as lyrical as say a Dylan, they were no less memorable. Play the songs She's About A Mover and Mendocino and I swear they'll stay in your head for hours. Reid also takes note of Sahm's influence on the lives and careers of Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez, Roky Erickson, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Toward the end of his career, Sahm started the Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornados which featured Fender, Jimenez, and Augie Meyers. Many came to know Sahm and his music due to the formation of this group but unfortunately the writing is a little skimpy on this chapter of his life. Sahm died in 1999 due to a heart attack, but thanks to Reid his memory and his music live on.

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