By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Mavericks, the coolest band out of '90s Nashville, is back from what lead singer Raul Malo had called "permanent hiatus." Their first reunion show is tonight at the Southgate House.
The Mavericks (from left): Robert Reynolds, Raul Malo, Paul Deakin.|
In the early '90s, when Garth was King of Country, the upstart band from Miami snuck onto the charts. Powered by Malo's soaring Roy Orbison-esque vocals, the Mavericks combined rock 'n' roll attitude with '60s pop, Latin ballads, honky tonk country and anything else they felt like.
They left the Nashville herd behind, racking up such hits as "What a Crying Shame," "I Should Have Been True," "There Goes My Heart," "Here Comes the Rain," "All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down" and "Dance the Night Away." The last, from 1998's Trampoline, the final pre-hiatus studio CD, failed to hit the charts here, but was a huge hit in Europe. The band headlined 10,000-seat arenas there, a feat it never pulled off back home.
By 1999, after a 10-year run in which they sold 4 million records and won a Grammy, two Country Music Association Awards and three Academy of Country Music Awards, the Mavericks were worn out. Malo had a Latin solo album he wanted to make, but the band's label wanted What A Crying Shame II.
That was all Malo needed.
"I knew that I wanted to do other things as well (as the Mavericks). I wanted to sing in Spanish. I wanted do (pop) standards. I wanted to have that creative freedom and it wasn't happening. All anyone wanted to talk about was a Mavericks record," he says.
IF YOU GO
Who: The Mavericks and Mark McGuinn
When: 8:30 p.m. today
Where: Southgate House, 22 E. Third St., Newport; (859) 431-2201
Tickets: $25; call 779-9462
"So I felt, 'If nobody's going to allow me to do this, then I'm out of here.' Slowly but surely I just died it down. I felt like I had no choice, really."
After 10 years of the Mavericks, everyone else in the band felt the same way.
"There was no bad blood per se, just guys that really, really needed to take a break from sitting on top of one another," says bassist Robert Reynolds.
In 2000, the Mavericks - Malo, Reynolds, guitarist Nick Kane, drummer Paul Deakin and keyboardist Jimmie Dale McFadden - split, and the solo albums started.
Kane, who, along with McFadden, is not part of the reunion, released Songs in the Key Of E. Reynolds went back to guitar and got more notice with Catch All, by the all-star Swag, which included ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer and Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson.
The best was Malo's Latin album, Today, a varied collection fusing Malo's love of American pop and Latin styles.
None made the charts, although Malo got lots of local airplay on WNKU-FM. And when he began writing again after Today, the material had a familiar sound.
"I started writing songs again, and by the end of it I had a batch of about 10 or 11 songs and it sounded like a Mavericks records. And I thought, if it sounds like a Mavericks record, why not do a Mavericks record?"
"He was missing a bit of band energy versus being the solo guy," says Reynolds. "The sound and the energy that we had, that's sort of irreplaceable; it's hard to re-create in other projects."
After tonight's sneak preview, the Mavericks have their official debut in Nashville at the weekend's River Stages. Later in May, the band records its debut for Sanctuary, a label with an eclectic roster including Dolly Parton, the Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic and Peter Frampton.
But don't expect that new stuff at Southgate. The Mavericks want to hear the old songs as much as their fans do.
"We love the old music and we've missed it long enough that we can be really passionate about it again," says Reynolds.
Maybe this time, Nashville will "get it" and the Mavericks will enjoy the commercial success they deserve. After all, some of the same sounds that the band was criticized for, such as Latin rhythms and horns, are now part of mainstream country, says Malo.
"It's funny to turn on the (Academy of Country Music) awards show and see Brooks & Dunn with a horn section and (Latin percussionist) Sheila E. I'm like, 'Yeah, they ran us out of town for doing the same thing years ago.' "
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