Back in the early '90s, the Texas Tornados made a television appearance on the music show hosted by Valley legend Johnny Canales.
The diminutive, bespectacled Canales (the Ed Sullivan of South Texas TV) was visibly pleased to be in the company of Tex-Mex royalty, but one band member clearly impressed him the most. It wasn't Flaco Jimenez, one of the great masters of conjunto accordion; it wasn't Freddy Fender, the man who put Chicano rock 'n' roll and bilingual country on the map; and it wasn't Doug Sahm, the walking encyclopedia of American roots music. No, Canales instantly directed his microphone at Augie Meyers. He felt compelled to pick the brain of the towering man who had recorded and co-written the cantina classic "Hey Baby, Qué Paso?"
If, as Public Enemy's Chuck D once stated, the Beastie Boys were "Jackie Robinson in reverse," you could argue that the Polish-German Meyers was Ritchie Valens in reverse, connecting with Latinos without ever pretending to be something he wasn't. Part of the charm of Meyers' solo standouts such as "Dinero," "Velma From Selma," and "La Rhonda" is that for all the authentic barrio grit of his accordion playing, his Spanish is unmistakably Anglicized. He understands that he's a white guy playing brown music, a cultural contradiction which Meyers himself mocked by dubbing his record label White Boy.
On Valentine's Day, Meyers and special guest Spot Barnett will team up for a night based around the title of Meyers' 2003 album, Blame It On Love. It adds up to a can't-miss chance to hear two of this city's greatest musical forces on the same stage. •