‘Augie Meyers 69-year-old San Antonio keyboardist used his Vox organ to bridge the gap between sixties psychedelia and Tex-Mex and gave the Sir Douglas Quintet its signature sound. In 1990 he and his Quintet bandmate Doug Sahm joined Freddy Fender and Flaco Jiménez to launch the Texas Tornados.’
There are few figures in country music as influential and perhaps as underappreciated in modern culture as Doug Sahm, who changed the climate of the genre when he fused psychedelic San Francisco rock and gritty soul into his breed of Texas music with his band, Sir Douglas Quintet. Now, as part of their forthcoming Live From Austin, TXseries, New West has unearthed archival footage of the band, culled from appearances in 1975 and 1981, with a performance of “Mendocino” premiering on Rolling Stone Country.
Reunited with members of the original Sir Douglas Quintet lineup, the video is from a January 1981 Austin City Limits session, and has the band showing how well they melded so many corners of the musical spectrum, both sonically and aesthetically: Sahm, in John Lennon shades and Tom Petty hair, nodding to the rock & roll spirit he hoped to infuse into his music, alongside Augie Meyers chugging on his signature Vox organ.
“Mendocino” was one of the band’s best-known songs, climbing the charts stateside upon its release in 1968 but seeing even more success abroad – and whose influence can still be found in artists like Margo Price, who recently recruited some mariachi players for a performance of “Pay Gap” that conjured up Sahm’s Chicano spirit, or in the psychedelic riffs of Aaron Lee Tasjan. Here, Sahm ends this version of “Mendocino” with a little windmill action on his guitar, the song still resonating as one of the finest, grooviest numbers to come out of San Antonio.
Sahm, a childhood prodigy, died in 1999, and these Live From Austin, TX recordings are a rare contribution to his, and Sir Douglas Quinet’s, catalog. “We thought our band had a lotta soul,” Sahm told Rolling Stone back in 1971, speaking to Chet Flippo about Sir Douglas Quintet.
Live From Austin, TX will be released April 13th via New West, remastered and available on vinyl for the first time.