About Texas Tornados
Playing together again for the first time since the ‘90s and feeling what Shawn calls “the Tornado vibe,” the group enlisted Shawn to take over and “drive the bus” for their first album in over a decade. His goal for the record was “to keep it a straight up Tex-Mex rock and roll record.” When they first began recording, Shawn was very pleased but not surprised to hear them “sounding like they are playing at the top of their game.” He states, “When you hear this record, you hear why they are the legends they are.”
Shawn Sahm has been around the music since he was 13 and was the perfect person to entrust with preserving the Tornado’s legacy. He fine-tuned each track according to the group’s feedback giving each detail serious attention. Throughout the process, he insisted to all of them, “It is not done until you are happy.” For the release of the album, Ray Benson’s label, Bismeaux Records in Austin, was an obvious choice. Shawn comments, “Everyone knew they had a great record and they felt it would be important to go with someone who understood the legacy of the Texas Tornados. I knew Ray was the right guy. They have been friends for a long time. If anyone understood the legacy of the band, it was Ray.”
“Having known the original Texas Tornadoes, I was delighted when Shawn brought me the tracks of the NEW Texas Tornadoes CD,” said Ray Benson. “Besides the wonderful Freddy Fender songs recorded shortly before his passing, Augie, Flaco and Shawn have recorded an album true to the Tornados sound and vision. I am honored to present their CD on Bismeaux Records for old fans and I am sure a host of new ones, too.”
In addition to the featured members, the recordings include Tornado original musicians Louie Ortega, Speedy Sparks and Ernie Durawa. Flaco Jiménez states, “The groove is back.”
The Texas Tornados origin can be traced back to the ‘60s when Doug and Augie formed a lifelong friendship over a baseball card collection. They performed together with the Sir Douglas Quintet whose albums went gold and platinum throughout their career both in the States and abroad. Their first hit, “She’s About a Mover,” came out in the late ‘60s and opened many doors for them, eventually earning Texas Monthly’s recognition decades later as number one on their 2004 list “The 100 Best Texas Songs.” The band worked with artists like Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Chuck Berry and Frank Zappa on various projects, and also worked with the Grateful Dead’s Dan Healy on tracks that showed them world-wide success with hits like their third album’s title track “Mendocino” which also topped the charts. Young Shawn Sahm started playing music with his dad at age 13, and in the early ‘80s, he went on to tour and record for the Sir Douglas Quintet for their 1981 “Border Wave” album release. In the ‘90s, the band worked with Q Prime founder Cliff Burnstein (Metallica) to release a CD for Elektra Records, and they continued to tour domestically and internationally.
Individually, Doug and Augie sought out numerous musical collaborations and projects – one of which led Doug to work independently on the “Doug Sahm and Band” record that Jerry Wexler produced in the early ‘70s. It included collaborations with industry greats such as Bob Dylan, Dr. John and Augie himself, and ultimately led Doug to bring button accordion master Flaco Jiménez to New York for the very first time. In the mid-1970s, Doug was responsible for Freddy Fender’s comeback bringing him out of retirement and back into the studio.
In 1989, the paths of the Tornados converged. Originally billed as the Tex-Mex Revue, Doug reunited with Augie and brought in Flaco Jiménez and Freddy Fender to play for a full house at Slim’s (a San Francisco rock and blues club owned by Boz Scaggs). Each member has reflected upon this show as the beginning of the Texas Tornados since the energy they felt on stage was “undeniable.” Flaco and Freddy were mutually as accomplished individually as Doug and Augie. Flaco, known for his five-time GRAMMY® winning talent on the Conjunto accordion, is an international icon for the Conjunto genre taking lead from his father, Santiago Jiménez Sr., who has been called the “father” of Conjunto music. He has worked with numerous artists including the Rolling Stones, Dwight Yoakam, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, Bob Dylan and Dr. John.
Equally as established in the industry, Tex-Mex sensation Freddy Fender is known for his solo hits “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” which contributed to his becoming recognized as one of the only Hispanic stars in country music. In the ‘90s, Augie shared the stage with fellow legends the Allman Brothers, Tom Waits, John Hammond and Bob Dylan with whom he also recorded the tracks “Time Out of Mind” and “Love and Theft.” Finally, among many other accolades, Doug Sahm went on to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine twice in his long career.
Together as the Texas Tornados, they won a GRAMMY® award for best Mexican American performance for “Soy De San Luis” from their self-titled debut album, which they recorded in English and Spanish versions. It spawned other well-known classics as “Who Were You Thinkin’ Of,” “(Hey Baby) Que Paso” and “She Never Spoke to Me in Spanish.” Their popularity earned them invitations to perform at President Clinton’s inaugural ball, the David Letterman Show, the Montreaux Jazz Festival, and they performed multiple times at Farm Aid and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Tornados disbanded in 1999 after Doug Sahm’s passing, but as Shawn puts it, “the Sahm family makes music – that is what we do.” To honor his best friend and father and continue “crossing the barriers in musical culture,” Shawn prompted the reunion of the Texas Tornados which ultimately resulted in the forthcoming release of “Esta Bueno.” Shawn was able to convince Fender to write one of what turned out to be one of the last songs he ever wrote before lung cancer claimed his life in 2006. These vocal performances will be featured on five previously unreleased tracks to be included on “Esta Bueno.”