Doug Sahm is one of those unheralded musicians whose public recognition is generally based on a few old pop hits, but whose range of talent mixed Beatle-esque tunefulness with Tex-Mex sensibility. He was a child when he played with Hank Williams, Sr. and did the rhythm and blues circuit in the 1950’s. As the Sir Douglas Quintet, he joined the British Invasion to chart with “She’s About a Mover,” with a band that was more south of the border than Liverpool and later, struck again with the hit “Mendocino.”
You’ve probably heard these songs at some point in your life, but Sahm was more of a musician’s musician- he died relatively young, and his contributions to mixing genres from pop and Tejano to blues and what we now refer to as “roots rock” went largely unrecognized.
This film, Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove, may change that. It is premiering in that commercial riot known as ‘SXSW’ which gives Austin international media attention for two weeks each year. But when Sahm was blending his special mix of Texas sounds with pop, psych and rock and roll, Austin was a far different place.
The film is a labor of love from Joe Nick Patoski, whose fluency in the history of Texas music as a writer is comparable to the musicianship of his subject. If you mixed Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and a taste of the Beatles with the spice of Tex-Mex, you might just begin to get a sense of how important Doug Sahm was, and remains, to the music we listen to today. Hopefully, this film will give Sahm some of the broader recognition he so richly deserves. According to one of the folks who worked on the film, Joe Bailey, Jr., the Austin film community today is as vibrant, collaborative and fiercely independent as the music scene probably was in Sahm’s day. If Doug Sahm were around, he’d be proud.