Thursday, February 19, 2009


My introduction to the music of Doug Sahm came from Doug Sahm and Band. Living at Floyd's Hotel in early 1973, I was starved for any new music from Bob Dylan. It had been a long time since New Morning was released in 1970. When I read about Bob's appearance on this album by Doug Sahm, I was a buyer.

Although I didn't know it at the time, Sir Doug already had a long and colorful history as a Texas musician. Born in San Antonio in 1942, Sahm was a child prodigy, who played on the radio at 5 years old. He even shared the stage with Hank Williams Sr in 1952.

In the 1965, Sahm and his friend Augie Meyers formed the Sir Douglas Quintet, which had a top twenty hit with She's About a Mover. Even though some of the players in the band were Mexican and they had a decidedly Tex-Mex sound, Sahm's record company remade them as a British invasion band to capitalize on the hot trend of the day. Whatever the story, Doug and this band had a unique sound and made some great music. They even patented the cheap Mexican organ sound heard on She's About a Mover and other Sahm songs.

Doug Sahm and the Band was recorded in 1972 at Muscle Shoals studio under the direction of legendary producer Jerry Wexler (see my post from August 17). Wexler brought together Doug, Bob Dylan, David Bromberg, Dr. John, and Flaco Jimenez for the session. Although not a commercial success at the time, the record has been mentioned as one of Wexler's favorites in several articles. Listening to it today, I can see why.

The record kicks off with Doug's take on Is Anybody Goin to San Antone, which was a number 1 hit for Charlie Pride. With the fiddle playing the roll of a percussion instrument, Doug and the band turn this into an appealing romp. It has a loose, modern country sound and and you can tell the musicians are having a great time. Listen for the steel guitar taking on the fiddle parts later in the song.

 Later on the disk, you get Bob Dylan stepping up for vocals on his original composition Wallflower. Bob's pipes sound a little rusty from hanging around in Woodstock, but it still was a treat to hear him sing some new material. 

On the rest of the album, Sahm shows his versitilty by covering some great country songs as well as some blues standards. He does a good job on Willie Nelson's Me and Paul and on the western standard Faded Love. The band also works up some energy on great blues tunes like Dealer's Blues, Blues Stay Away from Me and Papa Ain't Salty.

I was lucky to see Sahm live at Ferdie's, a beer joint north of San Antonio, in May of 1986. It was a wedding celebration for a good friend who was a fan and long time friend of Doug's. The party (what I remember of it) was rocking and the music was great. I got to talk to Doug and Augie during one of the breaks. I asked Doug about Bob Dylan. He said: "He's a weird cat." Right after the break, the band launched into a blistering version of Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues. My night was made.

If you don't have this classic album on your playlist, you need to add it. Available on iTunes and from Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. One the great musicians to come out of Texas. Having seen him a few times up here in the northeast, always had fun at his shows. Never knew who he was going to invite to play with him on any given night.