Bob Dylan once called Augie Meyers a “master of syncopation and timing,” but what’s important is not what Dylan said about South Texas’ living legend — it’s what he did with him in the studio.
After an erratic ’80s career, Dylan came back with a vengeance with Time Out of Mind (1997, which won three Grammys including Album of the Year) and Love and Theft (2001, Newsweek’s second best album of the decade). Meyer’s presence was key for the success of both albums. “Augie’s playing in Dylan’s latest CD really makes the record,” Doug Sahm told the Current in 1998. “He has always been the rock.”
Dylan always knew Meyers pretty well, since the Sir Douglas Quintet days. The band, led by Doug Sahm, was the first American band to “invade” the British music scene. The Quintet was obviously influenced by the British Invasion, but it also had its own identity, of which conjunto/Tex-Mex was an important part, along with the unmistakable sound of what Dylan calls Meyers’ “magic Vox organ.”
Meyers would achieve that organic-sounding all-inclusiveness again with the Texas Tornados, which brought him back together with Doug Sahm as well as two other legends: Freddy Fender and Flaco Jiménez.
And then there are Meyers’ songs: he can rock, he can squeeze, and he can sing with the best of them. But, as a solo artist, he has been basically telling jokes good enough to continue a busy schedule of touring and recording at age 71, fresh from a kidney transplant in 2010 and after.
“I feel great, man,” he said over the phone. “After [a California visit with the Tornados] let’s talk about my new project.”
The project? A comedy album.
“You mean, musical comedy or … ” “No, no,” he interrupted. “Stand up! We want to tape it and film it, and make CDs and DVDs.”
He had hoped to do the show in August at San Antone Café & Concerts. But the closing of that venue on May 24 put Meyers’ plans on hold. Yet he hasn’t lost hope.
“Maybe I can still open it for one night,” Meyers said. “I always loved the acoustics and magic of that place.” [Our respectful request to whoever would have the power to open the place for Meyers: do it!]
In the meantime, here’s my favorite Augie Meyers joke, told a few years ago during a concert at the International Accordion Festival at La Villita.
Attention, attention,” he told the audience, deadly serious. “We found $60 tied by a rubber band.” Some in the crowd were checking their pockets, and everyone listened to him very attentively. “If you think it belongs to you, come see us backstage after the show and we’ll give you the rubber band.”