ACL Live Shot: The Mavericks

Reunited Nashville honky-tonkers take no prisoners

Mavericks ringleader Raul Malo
Mavericks ringleader Raul Malo
photo by Jana Birchum

The reformed Mavericks are a miracle. They could almost be a Gulf Coast counterpart to Los Lobos – a band that evolved from simple beginnings into something special and uniquely their own.

The Mavericks have journeyed from a stripped-down hybrid of Buck Owens & the Buckaroos with the high drama of Roy Orbison to exactly the same model with a whole lot of chrome, extra tail fins, bullet-shaped lights, and a highly torqued engine under the hood – much of it in Latin flavor.

Walking out dressed like a pack of the most badass gunfighters in town – save for hyperactive dancing fool and keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden, who wore a snazzy mod suit and snap-brim hat – and augmented by a twopiece horn section and some young vato on accordion, Raul Malo and his mob tore the Zilker Tent apart. It was Saturday night, and depending on the song, the stage became either the hottest honky-tonk in town or the most swingin’ cantina in ATX.

New tunes like “Back in Your Arms Again” swung like the Sir Douglas Quintet playing ska. The band as a whole is one giant rhythm section, with the occasional lead flourish providing a huge swinging groove for Malo’s enormous voice to wail his dramatic tales atop.

It was nonstop smiles until “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down” did just that to the house. Master musicianship was harnessed to serve a song and an ability to entertain and captivate. Every band could learn from the Mavericks.

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