The Mavericks prove true originals at DC show

Iconic country group is touring into next year

The Mavericks have always been true to their name. They have successfully innovated in country music for 33 years. The reasons why were on display Sunday night (Nov 13th) at Lincoln theater in DC.

The first thing one notices when The Mavericks take the stage is a backing band comprised of rather unconventional instruments. Lining the back are two trumpet players, a saxophonist, and an accordionist. There was a set of bongos set up for intermittent use.

These instruments on display lay bare the DNA of The Mavericks’ CMA, ACM, and Grammy-winning sound. They are traditional-sounding country with a backbone of Latin music and lightly peppered with pop influences.

This winning combination is largely the brain child of Raul Malo. An American with Cuban heritage, he has been hailed as an important figure in the mainstreaming of the Latin sound. In merging it with country music, he and his band have created an addictively approachable sound. Malo’s famous vibrato and crisply taught vocals remain virtually unchanged from the 90’s.

Malo and band mates including original drummer Paul Deaks, keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden — who joined the year the group won their first CMA — and guitarist Eddie Perez were all present at Lincoln.

McFadden toggled deftly between his organ and a traditional keyboard while jamming with a smile. Perez’s persona was that of a Tex-Mex Mick Mars; stoic with every ounce of energy directed at his fast-flying fingers. Deals provided the best to the varying styles with precision.

Midway through the show, Malo, dressed in a black sequin-trimmed jacket and scarf, passed out tequila shots. They were provided by a friendly audience member. The band toasted the crowd as they downed the drinks. This was in line with the laidback, fun atmosphere that was set at the top of the show, when the band walked out to a recording of The Can-Can and an accompanying light show.

The Mavericks catalogue itself is a demonstration of how close Latin and American music are related. The horns on “Back in Your Arms Again” support a rock-solid country melody. While “There Goes My Heart” feels like something you would hear in a Cuban dance club. Then immediately after, the Mavericks offered “Pretend,” with as traditional a country sound as you would ever want to hear.

Malo handled these vocals stunningly, tapping into his roots during an expanded Latin music section. Yet a few songs later, his country twang was back. And the seven musicians behind him were able to keep up without sounding out of place in the varying styles. This might mean that The Mavericks are the most versatile band working in country music.

It was six songs in before Malo stopped to address the crowd, assuring the audience that “we survived” the recent midterm elections, and that we were still able to gather in the gorgeous Lincoln Theatre to listen to music. This proved that — Mavericks they are — this group that has found success by blending genres is a musical representation of America’s melting pot.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.