Mendocino, California

Mendocino by Sir Douglas Quintet

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Teeny Bopper, my teenage lover
I caught your waves last night
It sent my mind to wonderin' Read full Lyrics
The rock band, if "rock" is the right word, Sir Douglas Quintet could have been sued for using a false name. They were not British but American, and at times used up to eight players in their recordings, making their quintet tag three short of reality. They began playing in Texas in the 1960s and later moved to San Francisco.

Their manager at the time chose the name, Sir Douglas Quintet, because everyone - well, almost every American band was impressed by the Beatles. And having a British sounding name allowed you to catch a little of the Merseyside vibe.

One of their claims to fame is the unusual use they made of different musical styles in what was essentially a rock band. Older and exotic styles of music are heard in their songs. They used Cajun musical styles, 12 bar blues, a country and western form of the European polka, and doo-wop and soul musical sounds.

A quaint house on Main Street in Mendocino, California
Photo: Larry Gevert, Dreamstime

This was to be expected, because Texas was one place where musical variety thrived. Tex-Mex or Texas-Mexican food and music are a perfect example of the blending of various styles and ingredients. The Sir Douglas Quintet was a Tex-Mex kind of band.

When they moved to San Francisco in the 1970s they adopted jazz influences and added saxophone and trumpet to their traditional rock line-up for recording sessions.

The Quintet split in the early '70s with its members going on to various activities, including playing in a wedding band and writing soundtracks for movies.

The album Mendocino is a great introduction to the sounds of the band, all of which is largely influenced by Doug Sahm, who grew up playing all the styles found on the album. He was Texas born and bred and not only knew a whole heap of musical styles, he could play them on a whole heap of instruments. It is claimed Sahm could play dozens of musical instruments. In Texas, and elsewhere, he is highly regarded as a driving force in the Tejano or Tex-Mex style of music.

Mendocino County is part of California, north of San Francisco. It has spectacular Pacific Ocean scenery and more than a few marijuana plants. In fact, the county has what can only be described as a liberal attitude to cannabis.

The history of the county involves some unsavoury treatment of the original inhabitants, with various Native American tribes being removed or destroyed in and around Mendocino County.

There is military history, as well, with the former military outpost settlement at Fort Bragg being popular with tourists. Doubly so is the fact that you can travel there by restored steam locomotive on the so-called Super Skunk Train which runs in summer and autumn on weekends. The weather in this part of California is mild all year round.

A bit like the album Mendocino, the county has many hidden nuggets to enjoy over and over again.

Cenarth Fox
October 14, 2013
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