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Archive for Sunday, April 1, 1990

TEXAS STAR DOUG SAHM STICKS TO LOYAL AUDIENCE

April 1, 1990

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The songs on Doug Sahm's "Jukebox Music" are simple, traditional rhythm and blues and late '50s pop rock.

And, in a sense, Sahm embodies a bit of the past himself. For about 20 years, the Texas musician has produced all kinds of music, mostly based on what he heard growing up, and he still sticks with those sounds, pleasing his longtime fans.

"We've got a pretty loyal following built up," said Sahm, the singer and guitarist who starts his new tour Wednesday at the Jazzhaus. "The younger people, they may go see Motley Crue, but we've got an older crowd of loyal fans."

Sahm, 47, began his career in his native San Antonio in 1960. But before that, he was listening to and learning from the popular musicians of his day.

"IN MY early days I played country, and I listened to Hank Williams," he said. "Then Elvis came and I started playing that kind of music."

One of the advantages of growing up in Texas, Sahm said, was the musical variety available in clubs. In San Antonio, you could hear just about everything.

"To survive in Texas, you've got to play in every tradition," he said. "We've got Chicano, rock 'n' roll, blues. If you want to make it you have to play it all."

In the mid-'60s, about the time of the British rock invasion, Sahm hit the big time with The Sir Douglas Quintet. Producer Huey P. Meaux gave the band the English-sounding name to cash in on the popularity of British groups. The group had its biggest hit in 1969, called "Mendocino."

ALONG THE way, Sahm produced solo work that was heavily influenced by his friend Bob Dylan as well as jazz and the rest of the music from Sahm's Texas background. He released two albums in the early 1970s, called "The Return of Doug Saldana" and "Doug Sahm and Band," the latter including work by Dylan, Dr. John, Fathead Newman, Augie Meyers and Flaco Jimenez.

Since the '70s, Sahm has toured the world, playing live for the audience that grew up with his music.

"We've played Japan, Europe, everywhere," he said. "We've had a following in Europe for a long time."

In 1988, Sahm put together a band to play his brand of "Jukebox Music," the music that eventually went on the album. He's also working on a compilation album of Sir Douglas Quintet, which he re-formed for the current tour, and recording a new album for the Warner Brothers label, made up of more commercially appealing music.

"EVERY RECORD'S different," he said. "For the Warner's album, we're playing a lot of Tex-Mex country music. The difference is with a big label you're working with a producer and you may not have as much freedom as you do with a smaller label. Then again, with a smaller label you don't have all the resources you need to do what you want to do."

In addition to music, sports seems to be one of Sahm's great passions. He said he grew up a Yankees fan in Texas, but now his sympathies lie with the Royals and the Oakland A's. And, just recently, he discovered basketball.

"I just became a Spurs fan because of this season," he said. "That David Robinson is just fantastic."

Sahm said he doesn't see any great themes coming out of his music; he just plays the kind of music that he likes.

"A lot of my music is rock 'n' roll, a lot is rhythm and blues," he said. "People just have to draw their own conclusions."

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