Profile… Raul Malo

This is an updated version of an article I wrote a week ago.

A cover version of a well-known hit, led me to a band which for some reason I thought was Welsh.  I had no idea of anything at all about them, I just  really liked the song – so, just in case I only liked that song and didn’t like any of their other music, I borrowed a CD from the library. I’d never heard anything by them before – only the cover version, but as soon as I heard the first track on the borrowed album, I was hooked.

What was it which just captivated me? It wasn’t my sort of music and I found it hard to define, country-rock, maybe? I had no idea, but I realised they weren’t Welsh but American. I was entranced, enthralled, bewitched maybe, by the strong lead guitar,by the perfect rhythm section of bass and drums, by the lead singer’s voice, so expressive, so clear, such range, so strong, so tender, so cheerful, so sad… I’d never heard a voice like it, so pure somehow and yet so rich…

I looked at the album cover; four men maybe in their thirties, staring impassively out of the photo. The two on the left were standing, the other two sitting. Which one was the singer? The cool appraising one standing on the left, or the one next to and slightly behind him, dark hair, a goatee and moustache a strong almost fierce expression? Or was it the one sitting at the front with a red jacket and a challenging look on his face – lighter brown hair, again bearded and moustached? Or the one on the right, sitting slightly further back, dark curly hair  and a watchful, still expression.

There were names on the back of the album but it didn’t help identify which was the singer, the one with the mesmerising voice. He conveyed great joy, or tenderness, or sorrow, or  enthusiasm, or passion, or loss, or heartbreak, or fun, or anger, or love… The band was terrific, and I wanted to know – which name matched which face? Was the singer the one with the fierce expression, maybe a little older than the others? Or the one at the front in the red jacket with the challenging look? I had no idea.

It didn’t take me long to find out the name of the band, the instruments they played, the songs they had written, and then to buy every other album I could find by them. If you know me you’ll know that the band is The Mavericks, and at that time the members were Paul Deakin on drums, Nick Kane lead guitar, Robert Reynolds bass and vocals, and Raul Malo guitar and vocals, and the writer of many if not most of their songs.

I fell in love with the Mavericks; I bought all their albums, everything available. I bought all of Raul’s solo albums. I went to as many gigs as possible, travelling to every part of the UK, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, south to Plymouth, north- east to York, north-west to Liverpool and Manchester, and the midlands – Birmingham and Coventry… and elsewhere. An unexpected collateral was the friends I made – from across the world, friends who at first were Mav-fans, but soon became friends independent of our shared love and enthusiasm.

So, this is the background to my profile of Raul Malo. It is only a brief biography, to write about everything Raul has done and achieved would take a whole book… and maybe someone should write one!

Raul Malo

Raúl Francisco Martínez-Malo Jr. was born on August 7, 1965 in Miami, Florida to parents who were Cuban.  He was brought up with music all around him, not just at home but in the neighbourhood where local people played in public venues, sharing traditional music and songs and dance.

Like many young people  Raul joined his friends from school to make music, playing bass guitar at that point, and it wasn’t long before he was in various bands. However, the magic began to happen when he and a school friend Robert Reynolds got together with drummer Paul Deakin and they became the Mavericks. At that point their influences were the class country acts, such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline – and mixed with Raul’s Latin roots they produced a unique sound.

They worked throughout the 80’s and by the autumn of 1990 they were ready to release their own album called… The Mavericks! Raul had written the songs, and they were now joined by the guitarist Ben Peeler.  The success of their album lead them to be signed by MCA, and this was when Raul really began to focus on writing, and on singing – using his magnificent, distinctive voice as an instrument to make, as I mentioned, their unique sound.

They played their first gig in Nashville in 1991, and David Lee Holt joined Deakin, Reynolds and Malo as lead guitarist. Fame followed, success building on success. In 1995 Nick Kane became lead guitar, and it was this quartet which really cemented the firm foundations which had been set during the early 90’s.  Various other artists were associated with the band, including the one and only Jerry Dale McFadden. The Latin rhythms  of Raul’s background and heritage began to infiltrate their music making them different from any other band in the USA, and in the world. In fact, the world embraced the Mavericks, and they developed a huge following in Europe and in Australia but also in many other countries too.

As with most bands, there were tensions and difficulties, and people wanted to follow different paths; the band separated for  while and Raul released his first solo album, the magnificent ‘Today‘. The band reunited this time with the exuberant Eddie Perez as lead guitarist. An album was released and then once again, the members of the Mavericks drifted to pursue different interests and journeys. Raul continued to make albums and tour, sometimes solo, sometimes with a young accordionist, Michael Guerra.

The band reunited (to great joy from their many fans) and now with Jerry Dale McFadden as one of them, and always supported by Michael Guerra and usually Max Abrams on saxophone; this description –  “a country band whose neo-honky-tonk tunes hark back to the 1950s and 1960s” although still true, became only part of what their music is today… Far wider, more eclectic, more diverse, full of passion and driving energy, still embracing their fans in a way many other bands do not, which is why their future  success is probably guaranteed.

Throughout his career Raul has played with, been part of, collaborated with a wide variety of musicians from different genres of music; he recorded an album with The Royal Northern Sinfonia chamber orchestra of Great Britain, with Los Super Seven (“we maybe more but we are seven”) and has guested and featured on albums by many of the greatest singers of today.

The Mavericks have a huge back catalogue; songs they have written, and those written by others. They have performed and recorded covers from almost every major artist from across most genres of modern/poplar/contemporary music, as well as going back to their roots, and the music and artists who influenced them.

The music and performances and instrumentation is always superb, the rhythm from drums and bass (in the past bass guitar, more recently upright bass) keyboards, and  the Tex-Mex-Latino-Cuban sound from accordion, brass (in the past the Havana Horns, now a duet of sax with Max Abrams, and trumpet)  the melody – original, clever, often innovative –  but I would suggest that it is the voice which is the forefront, that which captivates and engages. Raul’s voice is, to repeat, a “mesmerising voice” which conveys “great joy, or tenderness, or sorrow, or  enthusiasm, or passion, or loss, or heartbreak, or fun, or anger, or love…

Raul not only sings, and plays, but writes… a Wikipedia entry shows a small sample of his most widely known songs, songs which what might be called ‘the general public’, would know – ‘All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down’, ‘Dance the Night Away’, ‘Here Comes the Rain’, ‘I Should Have Been True’, ‘There Goes My Heart’, ‘What a Crying Shame‘… but Raul must have written, performed, recorded, collaborated on hundreds more. As well as the Mavericks albums, Raul has written and released many others as a solo artist. Every fan will have their favourite, sometimes obscure song written by Raul.

Raul’s voice is captivating, hearing him singing even if you have never seen him live or recorded is mesmerising. However, to see him live, to listen to him performing in font of an audience is something else. He is charismatic, simply that. Performing solo, performing with a small ensemble, with the Mavericks, with a big band or even an orchestra, he shines, he illuminates the stage – and yet is also part of the whole performance.  He performs with passion, to use a clichéed phrase, he always gives a hundred percent, always. And yet… and yet he is modest, it is never about himself, it is about the music.

Raul has exceptional and extraordinary talent, and yet when you meet him (which many fans are able to do as he so generously comes out after nearly every gig) the ordinary fan can’t help but be struck by his modesty, his friendliness and his gratitude to those who buy his music and come to his concerts.  He is one of the most gifted, talented, versatile, imaginative, stunning people I have ever met. He is certainly the most charismatic.

*****

This is a video which demonstrates the sort of person Raul is; a concert I attended was cancelled before it even started due to problems with the water supply. Most of the audience left and went home, tickets refunded; us hard-core fans waited, and were rewarded by Raul coming out and with Jerry Dale McFadden and trumpeter Paul Armstrong and sax-player Max Abrams, entertaining us – here is one of many videos taken of that night:

The article below will give you an insight into Raul’s passion for freedom and liberty, and his anger at the racism and destructive attitudes which are pervading his country and the world:

https://www.raulmalo.com/about.html

Here are some more links about Raul:

http://www.songwritingmagazine.co.uk/interviews/interview-the-mavericks-raul-malo/36532

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/raul-malo-mn0000340527/biography

http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/music-popular-and-jazz-biographies/mavericks

The Mavericks Collection

The first album I ever heard

 

Profile

The 73 blog challenge – number 9: A profile

A cover version of a well-known hit, led me to a band which for some reason I thought was Welsh.  I had no idea of anything at all about them, I just  really liked the song – so, just in case I only liked that song and didn’t like any of their other music, I borrowed a CD from the library. I’d never heard anything by them before – only the cover version, but as soon as I heard the first track on the borrowed album, I was hooked.

What was it which just captivated me? It wasn’t my sort of music and I found it hard to define, country-rock, maybe? I had no idea, but I realised they weren’t Welsh but American. I was entranced, enthralled, bewitched maybe, by the strong lead guitar,by the perfect rhythm section of bass and drums, by the lead singer’s voice, so expressive, so clear, such range, so strong, so tender, so cheerful, so sad… I’d never heard a voice like it, so pure somehow and yet so rich…

I looked at the album cover; four men maybe in their thirties, staring impassively out of the photo. The two on the left were standing, the other two sitting. Which one was the singer? The cool appraising one standing on the left, or the one next to and slightly behind him, dark hair, a goatee and moustache a strong almost fierce expression? Or was it the one sitting at the front with a red jacket and a challenging look on his face – lighter brown hair, again bearded and moustached? Or the one on the right, sitting slightly further back, dark curly hair  and a watchful, still expression.

There were names on the back of the album but it didn’t help identify which was the singer, the one with the mesmerising voice. He conveyed great joy, or tenderness, or sorrow, or  enthusiasm, or passion, or loss, or heartbreak, or fun, or anger, or love… The band was terrific, and I wanted to know – which name matched which face? Was the singer the one with the fierce expression, maybe a little older than the others? Or the one at the front in the red jacket with the challenging look? I had no idea.

It didn’t take me long to find out the name of the band, the instruments they played, the songs they had written, and then to buy every other album I could find by them. If you know me you’ll know that the band is The Mavericks, and at that time the members were Paul Deakin on drums, Nick Kane lead guitar, Robert Reynolds bass and vocals, and Raul Malo guitar and vocals, and the writer of many if not most of their songs.

This is the background to my profile of Raul Malo. It is only a brief biography, to write about everything Raul has done and achieved would take a whole book… and maybe someone should write one!

Raul Malo

Raúl Francisco Martínez-Malo Jr. was born on August 7, 1965 in Miami, Florida to parents who were Cuban.  He was brought up with music all around him, not just at home but in the neighbourhood where local people played in public venues, sharing traditional music and songs and dance.

Like many young people  Raul joined his friends from school to make music, playing bass guitar at that point, and it wasn’t long before he was in various bands. However, the magic began to happen when he and a school friend Robert Reynolds got together with drummer Paul Deakin and they became the Mavericks. At that point their influences were the class country acts, such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline – and mixed with Raul’s Latin roots they produced a unique sound.

They worked throughout the 80’s and by the autumn of 1990 they were ready to release their own album called… The Mavericks! Raul had written the songs, and they were now joined by the guitarist Ben Peeler.  The success of their album lead them to be signed by MCA, and this was when Raul really began to focus on writing, and on singing – using his magnificent, distinctive voice as an instrument to make, as I mentioned, their unique sound.

They played their first gig in Nashville in 1991, and David Lee Holt joined Deakin, Reynolds and Malo as lead guitarist. Fame followed, success building on success. In 1995 Nick Kane became lead guitar, and it was this quartet which really cemented the firm foundations which had been set during the early 90’s.  Various other artists were associated with the band, including the one and only Jerry Dale McFadden. The Latin rhythms  of Raul’s background and heritage began to infiltrate their music making them different from any other band in the USA, and in the world. In fact, the world embraced the Mavericks, and they developed a huge following in Europe and in Australia but also in many other countries too.

As with most bands, there were tensions and difficulties, and people wanted to follow different paths; the band separated for  while and Raul released his first solo album, the magnificent ‘Today‘. The band reunited this time with the exuberant Eddie Perez as lead guitarist. An album was released and then once again, the members of the Mavericks drifted to pursue different interests and journeys. Raul continued to make albums and tour, sometimes solo, sometimes with a young accordionist, Michael Guerra.

The band reunited (to great joy from their many fans) and now with Jerry Dale McFadden as one of them, and always supported by Michael Guerra and usually Max Abrams on saxophone; this description –  “a country band whose neo-honky-tonk tunes hark back to the 1950s and 1960s” although still true, became only part of what their music is today… Far wider, more eclectic, more diverse, full of passion and driving energy, still embracing their fans in a way many other bands do not, which is why their future  success is probably guaranteed.

Throughout his career Raul has played with, been part of, collaborated with a wide variety of musicians from different genres of music; he recorded an album with The Royal Northern Sinfonia chamber orchestra of Great Britain, with Los Super Seven (“we maybe more but we are seven”) and has guested and featured on albums by many of the greatest singers of today.

The Mavericks have a huge back catalogue; songs they have written, and those written by others. They have performed and recorded covers from almost every major artist from across most genres of modern/poplar/contemporary music, as well as going back to their roots, and the music and artists who influenced them.

The music and performances and instrumentation is always superb, the rhythm from drums and bass (in the past bass guitar, more recently upright bass) keyboards, and  the Tex-Mex-Latino-Cuban sound from accordion, brass (in the past the Havana Horns, now a duet of sax with Max Abrams, and trumpet)  the melody – original, clever, often innovative –  but I would suggest that it is the voice which is the forefront, that which captivates and engages. Raul’s voice is, to repeat, a “mesmerising voice” which conveys “great joy, or tenderness, or sorrow, or  enthusiasm, or passion, or loss, or heartbreak, or fun, or anger, or love…

Raul not only sings, and plays, but writes… a Wikipedia entry shows a small sample of his most widely known songs, songs which what might be called ‘the general public’, would know – ‘All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down’, ‘Dance the Night Away’, ‘Here Comes the Rain’, ‘I Should Have Been True’, ‘There Goes My Heart’, ‘What a Crying Shame‘… but Raul must have written, performed, recorded, collaborated on hundreds more. As well as the Mavericks albums, Raul has written and released many others as a solo artist. Every fan will have their favourite, sometimes obscure song written by Raul.

Raul’s voice is captivating, hearing him singing even if you have never seen him live or recorded is mesmerising. However, to see him live, to listen to him performing in font of an audience is something else. He is charismatic, simply that. Performing solo, performing with a small ensemble, with the Mavericks, with a big band or even an orchestra, he shines, he illuminates the stage – and yet is also part of the whole performance.  He performs with passion, to use a clichéed phrase, he always gives a hundred percent, always. And yet… and yet he is modest, it is never about himself, it is about the music.

Raul has exceptional and extraordinary talent, and yet when you meet him (which many fans are able to do as he so generously comes out after nearly every gig) the ordinary fan can’t help but be struck by his modesty, his friendliness and his gratitude to those who buy his music and come to his concerts.  He is one of the most gifted, talented, versatile, imaginative, stunning people I have ever met. He is certainly the most charismatic.

This is a video which demonstrates the sort of person Raul is; a concert I attended was cancelled before it even started due to problems with the water supply. Most of the audience left and went home, tickets refunded; us hard-core fans waited, and were rewarded by Raul coming out and with Jerry Dale McFadden and trumpeter Paul Armstrong and sax-player Max Abrams, entertaining us – here is one of many videos taken of that night:

The article below will give you an insight into Raul’s passion for freedom and liberty, and his anger at the racism and destructive attitudes which are pervading his country and the world:

https://www.raulmalo.com/about.html

Here are some more links about Raul:

http://www.songwritingmagazine.co.uk/interviews/interview-the-mavericks-raul-malo/36532

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/raul-malo-mn0000340527/biography

http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/music-popular-and-jazz-biographies/mavericks

The Mavericks Collection

The first album I ever heard

 

All over again

So excited! On Friday I received something through the post… the new album by the Mavericks! The Mavericks are a band I have followed for many years, and not only have they brought me music, they have brought me many friends, much travel, much fun and excitement!

They have history, of course they do, and personal heartbreak as things have not worked out well in the past, but now they are united as ‘a very fortunate band of brothers’ as they describe themselves.

This new album contains sixteen fabulous live recordings of some of the best of their music – only ‘some of’ because they have an enormous catalogue of truly fabulous music, much written by Raul Malo. As well as Raul, the band consists of Paul Deakin, Eddie Perez, Jerry Dale McFadden, and a consistent team who appear on this album of Michael Guerra, Max Abrams, Matt Cappy and Ed Friedland.

If you haven’t yet got any Mavericks music, a whole world of joy, delight and excitement awaits you… if you have some of their albums, get the rest, and if you have the rest, get this one too!

PS. One of the most exciting things is what is written bottom right of the cover… “Volume 1” … a definite signal of more to come!

img004

  1. All Night Long
  2. All Over Again
  3. Stories We Could Tell
  4. What You Do to Me
  5. Fall Apart
  6. Do You Want Me To
  7. Back in Your Arms Again
  8. As Long as There’s Lovin’ Tonight
  9. Pardon Me
  10. Summertime
  11. Every Little Thing About You
  12. I Said I Love You
  13. Harvest Moon
  14. Dance in the Moonlight
  15. Come Unto Me
  16. Waiting for the World to End

Here is a link to an in-depth review:

http://themusicuniverse.com/the-mavericks-detail-all-night-live-vol-1-for-oct-14th/

It’s here!

At last!! The long-awaited new album from the Mavericks! It’s called Mono as you can see from my featured image, and there are twelve tracks, all written by Raul Malo, on his own and in collaboration with others. Not only has he written them all, he sings, plays electric and acoustic guitars, piano and percussion, and has co-produced the album too! A many of many amazing talents!

There are four members of the band; alongside Raul there is Paul Deakin, Eddie Perez and Jerry Dale McFadden. The band is supported by a group of amazing musicians known as the Fantastic Four, Michael Guerra, Max Abrams, Paul Armstrong and Jay Weaver.

My cd arrived in the post today and I was so excited, excited and almost nervous about hearing it for the first time. There have been excerpts and preview available, but I have resisted listening to any of them, not even the tiniest little snippet… so every song will be new to me! Whenever a new album arrives, it takes a few plays before I’m able to sort out the songs I really like… and sometimes it takes more than a few plays to really appreciate some of them.

Luckily for me I will be able to hear some of them live soon as the Mavericks are on tour at the end of February, beginning of March!

img066

img067

Revisiting an old gig

It was two years ago that I saw Raul Malo in Oxford… gosh, was he sensational! here is what I wrote at the time:

November 2011

Well, everyone, Raul was absolutely sensational last night – I have seen him perform many times (though never enough) and he has never been more brilliant than in Oxford yesterday! The whole day had been a good one for me – I’ve had a hell of a week with an inspection at work on Thursday and Friday – we did well with some outstanding features which was great! So I was really set up for a great weekend; I had my Gaelic class in the morning which was good fun as usual then I set off to drive to Oxford.

Oxford in the summer

The venue was the Holywell Music Room which was built in 1742 and is beautiful, it suited Raul perfectly!  Many very famous people have played there, including both Hayden and Handel… and now Raul Malo! The motorway traffic  flowed well and I arrived in plenty of time. I left my car at the hotel and took a taxi into the city – and was driven by a most intelligent and interesting man who dropped me right outside the venue.

A pointy tree in Oxford’s botanical gardens

As we drew up outside the Holywell Music Room , there was Raul standing outside on his phone! I gazed at him  from across the road for a few moments then walked on to find a drink, leaving him to make his call. I found a very nice pub, the King’s Arms which is even older than the music room.

I had a glass of wine and did some people watching then drifted back to the venue so I could be first in the queue – you can’t book seats so I wanted to be able to get a good place to sit. I hadn’t been there long when we were joined by about thirty Spanish people from Barcelona, some wearing cowboy hats and looking very smart. At last the doors opened and we rushed in and I sat right near the low stage, almost within touching distance. Although attractive, the antique seats weren’t that comfortable but honestly, did I care?

Alyssa Bonagura, Raul’s support came on. She is most exceptionally beautiful, talented and nice young lady. I had seen her in Bristol two weeks previously, and although she had a cold, she sang wonderfully.

There was a brief interval were only just back in our seats and then Raul came bounding onto the stage with Michael Guerra. They had an enthusiastic greeting from the audience and then launched into their set.  Raul was sensational, magnificent, I have never heard him sing better and he looked just gorgeous! He was his usual funny, witty, charming self -and the audience responded. The Spanish lady next to me who looked alarmingly like my boss could hardly keep sitting down (and I’m sure it wasn’t just the uncomfortable bench seating) and her friend opposite was dancing in her place.  I thought she was going to launch herself at Raul at one point when he sang “I said I love you.” Even the serious Sikh gentleman sitting in the front row was tapping his feet and nodding in time to the music.

I was so excited when Raul sang “Oh what a thrill” because I always think he sings “O girl, in a moment, I may kiss your lips, Lois, been a while since I felt like this”     He also sang one of my all time favourites “Hot Burrito No 1.” I had not heard him sing “Smile” before – not a favourite song of mine, but you know, he could sing a telephone directory and  “Smile” was magic.

Raul and Michael returned for an encore and brought Alyssa on stage with them. They looked as if they were having as much fun as the audience who were almost beside themselves with enjoyment, giving standing ovations during the songs as well as after – clapping, stamping, singing along, a real party atmosphere.

All too soon the party was over. The Spanish people and a crowd of others were staying to see Raul but I slipped away. A truly fantastic night! Thank you so much, Raul, you really were magnificent, in every way.

These are some of the songs he played, not in the right order, and no doubt with many  missing:
Matter Much To You
Sombras
Lucky One
Moonlight Kiss
One More Angel
You’re Only Lonely
Guantanamerra
Dance the Night away
O what a thrill
Smile
Hot Burrito No 1
Around the world in 80 days
I said I love you
Every Little Thing About You
Something Stupid

… and many more which elude me!

Missing the Mavericks

We’ve been spoiled this year with the Mavericks, they’ve been over three times and I’ve been able to see them in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Plymouth, so I really shouldn’t grumble… except it just seems so long ago now, the hilarious and unforgettable time in Glasgow – actually sitting and having a conversation with Raul Malo and also Eddie Perez, the mini-tour of Manchester and Birmingham (two favourite cities) with my Coventry buddies,  then a gloriously sunny Plymouth with my dear Dutch friends!

Oh Mavericks… when will you come back to us?

San Antonio Baby, Raul with Michael Guerra on accordion and Elio Giordano on Bass (sorry drummer, I don’t know who you are!)