September 29, 1990


venue: Theater of Living Arts
place: Philadelphia, PA
country: USA

Doug Sahm - guitar, piano, vocals
Augie Meyers - organ, piano, accordion, guitar, vocals
Freddy Fender - guitar, vocals
Flaco Jimenez - accordion, vocals
Louis Ortega - lead guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
Speedy Sparks - bass
Ernie Durawa - drums
Oscar Tellez - bajo sexto


The Texas Tornados At Tla

By Tom Moon, Inquirer Popular-Music Critic
Posted: October 01, 1990=098765321l;'


Doug Sahm stepped up to sing "Adios Mexico" Saturday at the Theater of Living Arts with the bravado of an arena rocker.

Wearing shades and a 10-gallon hat, black vest and jeans, Sahm sounded forlorn, vulnerable and at times defiant, his sandpapery voice perfectly suited to the quick-goodbye theme. With a subtle sneer, he supported his words by playing writhing guitar lines that refused to stay within the limits of the polite country-rock two-beat.

"Adios Mexico" proved that Saturday's sold-out performance of the Texas Tornados - Sahm, keyboardist Augie Meyers (a longtime Sahm bandmate), accordion virtuoso Flaco Jimenez, crooner Freddie Fender plus an excellent four-piece rhythm section - was more than a mere celebration of age-old styles.

Stuck between shimmering Mexican polkas and weepy '50s ballads was a fiercely rocking and richly detailed perspective on the Texas roots music that has been Sahm's inspiration for more than 20 years.

On "Adios Mexico," "(Hey Baby) Que Paso" and others, traditional instruments (such as button accordion) and traditional forms (polka, norteno) were combined with boogie, blues and rockabilly to create a persuasive, gut- level, earthy concoction that demanded participation. This was art music tailor-made for a cold beer and an open dance floor.

Buoyed by Sahm's light arrangements, the band interpreted a Jimmy Reed blues, Tex-Mex favorites (the blazing "Mendocino," a hit for Sahm's Sir Douglas Quintet in 1970) and country songs ("The Streets of Bakersfield") with genuine spunk, and a healthy irreverence.

The set was less convincing when the Tornados turned to Fender's ballads. Including both "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and "'Till the Next Teardrop Falls" in a two-hour set was indulgent and repetitive.

Austin guitarist Lee Roy Parnell who opened the show, returned to the stage on a blues jam late in the show. His terse country rock set was musically solid and inspired.