Doug Sahm's 'Mendocino'

SXSW panels

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Photo by Sandy Carson

Doug Sahm's 'Mendocino'

Austin Convention Center, March 21

Although this lively panel was ostensibly about the Sir Douglas Quintet's landmark 1969 single, "Mendocino," anyone who knows anything about the late Doug Sahm could guess tangential asides would overwhelm the assigned subject matter. Moderator Bill Bentley chose the 1966 Corpus Christi dope bust that compelled Sahm's move to California as the starting point. "The judge said, 'You can't come into my court unless you cut your hair,'" recalled SDQ organist Augie Meyers, "'but before you cut your hair, my daughter is a big fan, and she wants a picture of you.'" Once in the Bay Area, Sahm appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with son Shawn to represent the tide of Texans fleeing cultural repression. He also met girls, including the "teenybopper" who inspired "Mendocino." "I had stepmothers in every corner of the world," joked Shawn. "Mendocino" became a national hit, but to 15-year-old future Chronicle Music writer Margaret Moser, the song's Chicano soul and country undertones encapsulated San Antonio's musical essence. From there, the discourse rolled from how SDQ stashed pot in microphone stands and Bob Dylan hiring Sahm to babysit son Jakob to George Lucas expressing interest in having SDQ appear in More American Graffiti, only to be rebuffed because Sahm thought it might interfere with watching baseball. Off topic or on, the panel found Sahm's storied "groove" in spades.

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