As I was showering today, listening to the radio and thinking randomly about grocery shopping and soap and how fun it is to say the word “inequity,” the song “She’s About A Mover” by the Sir Douglas Quintet came on. Ahhh. Fantastic.

This was another of those songs that I instantly loved – how could you not! The combination of the Vox organ, the relentless CHUNK CHUNK CHUNK of the off-beat rhythm, and of course the GIANT voice of leader Doug Sahm. I didn’t know what the hell the lyrics meant, but I figured that whomever “she” was and whatever a “mover” was, it was all pretty neat-o.

The Sir Douglas Quintet, with the pseudo-Brit name and bowl haircuts and fancied-up fab gear outfits made a brief go at trying to pass themselves off as an English band, as this was pretty much the only way anyone got on the radio in 1965. But since some of the band was quite obviously of Mexican lineage and they all had heavy Texas accents, the ruse was short-lived. They didn’t need it anyway, really. Their sound was unique and cool, and was my entry point into the Tex-Mex sound: ? and The Mysterians (Texas via Michigan) with “96 Tears,” the 13th Floor Elevators and the awesome “You’re Gonna Miss Me (complete with electric jug), The Moving Sidewalks with “99th Floor” (an early line-up of ZZ Top), and then to my beloved Joe “King” Carrasco, my ding-dong daddy pal of 28 years now from Dumas, Texas:

Doug Sahm left Texas for awhile in the ‘60s after a run-in with the less-than-liberal Texas marijuana laws. Mixing his Texan roots with the hippy-mellow vibe of San Francisco, he and the Sir Doug’s came up with the brilliant album, “Mendocino.” I don’t think there’s really anyone who would argue that Sahm’s voice had as much soul and depth as anyone on the planet, and it is especially true on “At The Crossroads.”

Leaving you, girl, heading down the road
You left me many burdens, such a heavy load
And it sure does wig me out
When I think about what went down

Crossroad of my life passed her
When her face couldn't begin to recognize
Roll on through my mind
Till I took the time to concentrate on you

You can teach me lots of lessons
You can bring me lot of gold
But you just can't live in Texas
If you don't have lot of soul

Leaving you now for the very last time
Leaving you now, really blown your mind
And where you're living now
You are finding how the other half lives

You can teach me lots of lessons
You can bring me lot of gold
But you just can't live in Texas
If you don't have lot of soul

Leaving you now for the very last time
You really did it this time when it blown your mind
Someday a change will come
And you'll be beside me one more time, one more time
And you will be beside me one more time
You will be by me just one more time.

At The Crossroads - Sir Douglas Quintet

At the end of the summer of 1991, I was eight months pregnant with my first child. Ungainly, huge, and waddlesome, I decided that I wanted us to make the drive from Denver to Pueblo, Colorado to see Joe “King” Carrasco play at the State Fair. It was over 100 degrees that day, but weren’t nothin’ gonna stop almost-mama from seeing her rock ‘ roll. When you know your life is going to change and the change is big and coming up really soon, it makes things take on a bit of a different meaning. I had to go.

I watched their set from a chair at the side of the stage, so happy to be there, and they were happy to see me, too. I was given lots of bottled water, and shooed to the deliciously-air-conditioned band trailer every so often to keep cool. After the band was finished, we hung out and talked, picking up from wherever we left off. As the sun finally lowered, some of us decided we wanted to head over to the main stage where Doug Sahm and his new band, The Texas Tornadoes, were set to play. This was really exciting for me, as I had never seen him play before.

The fairgrounds were huge and it was quite a walk, but I was game, all well-hydrated and rested. As our fairly sweaty rock n’ roll troupe made it over there, we had to cross a very large and very bumpy dirt field which I think had hosted the rodeo earlier in the day. Joe and bassist Chuggy without hesitation both took an elbow and helped me across, even though I really was fine and didn’t ask. Texas manners. There was something so kind and decent and touching and funny about that small thing that I have never forgotten it. Two rock and roll dudes helping a giant pregnant woman across a plowed-up field sprinkled with dung, ha.

As it turned out, our timing was off and we arrived just as the Texas Tornadoes finished their set. We were all really disappointed. After a bit, Joe left, and when he came back, he was with Doug Sahm, who was wearing a huge white Stetson hat and looked like a star. I shook his hand, lost for words, and he smiled and tipped his hat to me. I glanced over to my right and saw the legendary Freddy Fender grinning at me.

“How you doing, Mama?”

“Fine, thank you!” All I could do was just smile and smile.

Aw, man. So cool.

Doug Sahm passed away in his sleep in 1999, and Freddy Fender died in 2006. Joe “King” lives in Mexico now, and still plays his music and makes people happy. I had my kid and two more, and still marvel over the things music has brought into my life.

Thank you, Doug.