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

 

Happy birthday!

I have shared this many times before… but it’s worth sharing again… such a sweet and delightful song! Here we have Kevin Montgomery and Robert Reynolds in Adelaide, many years ago, singing ‘I don’t even know your name‘ written by Robert.

Kevin is an amazing singer/songwriter and if you have the chance to see him, then grab it and go – you will have an amazing time!! I don’t know how many times I have been to Kevin gigs, and always had a brilliant time! As a bonus on this video you have Kevin singing ‘I Wish I Were Blind’  a Springfield hit.

Robert was a founder member of the Mavericks, and it is his birthday today. Thirteen years ago, I went over to Cardiff to see Kevin and his band the Roadtrippers, of which Robert was part. It was an amazing gig, sensational!! And it was Robert’s birthday, so much was made of it!

Things have been a bit tricky to say the least for Robert over the past few years; however, today, I would like to wish him a very happy birthday and hope that all continues to go well for him in the future.

Happy birthday, Robert!

.

Ten years ago…

Having recently enjoyed a wonderful evening with Kevin Montgomery, I’ve been thinking back over other Kevin gigs… here’s a review of a memorable one in devon… it seems like only yesterday!

 

ShebbearCollege,Devon- 20th January 2006

A night with Kevin – and with an added extra!!

Deepest darkest Devon

Six days after the great night at the Polish Club in Bristol where everything sweated, even the walls (the only exception, Paul Deakin) I set out into the wilds of Devon to go to Shebbear College to see Kevin and the boys again.
This time I had a novice Kevin fan, my friend Janet who had never heard him before (although she had heard plenty about him from me!) As a Devonian of five years she was used to the country lanes and with map and torch in hand she guided me as we drove under a blanket of stars deeper and deeper into the countryside.
She guided me faultlessly to Shebbear. I had been to the concert there last year but had approached the college from the other direction and had not gone into the village itself. This time we came from the south and arrived in the middle of Shebbear. It looked a pretty little place by moonlight but we had no idea which of the several roads out of it might be the one to lead us to the college.

A good idea

We decided to go into the pub to ask the way and also to use their facilities. As we parked I noticed a large camper van and wondered whether that might be Kevin’s. We went into the pub and we passed the dining room and lo and behold there were the Roadtrippers having dinner. We didn’t like to interrupt them so went through to the bar and not only asked the way to the college and the way to the ladies but had a drink while we were there – a choice of three real ales for me and a glass of wine for Janet. The pub was called the Devil’s Stone (we never did find out why) and it was most attractive, very old and with a pleasant atmosphere and a friendly and welcoming landlord. Armed with directions we left the pub and the boys, still eating, and headed for the college.

ShebbearCollege

We found our way to the college and eventually to the hall where the concert was to take place. As last year there were tables and chairs set out very prettily but this time there was a large space at the front near the stage for dancing. There were a couple of seats at a table right at the front which we quickly occupied. Unfortunately, as with last year it was very cold in the hall and a girl on the table where we sat put on her ski hat as her mum sat shivering in a thick coat. We kept our coats on, but I promised Janet it would warm up once Kevin got going!

The support act

As we gave in our tickets I remarked to the lady behind the desk that the boys were still in the pub but she said the two Scottish girls would be on before them, meaning Jill Jackson and her friend who I had seen in Bristol (yes, I know it should be whom). As we sat waiting, Al came onto the stage and began his routine of tuning all his different instruments. As he went off, Mike and Robert came on and as Mike tuned his guitar, Robert took Kevin’s and put it on. At that point I wondered… I had never seen Robert tune Kevin’s guitar for him before… Robert came to the mike and introduced himself and explained that Jill could not be with us so he and Mike were going to do a few numbers! Fantastic! What a bonus! And of course they were both great. Robert sang ‘Pretty Like You’ and ‘… from his cd ‘The Wintersky Works’, and ‘Carolina’ from his first cd ‘Audrey in a Dream’. Mike sang ‘Right Before Your Eyes’, ‘One Good day’ and ‘Paper Thin’ from his ‘Million Miles’ cd. It was great hearing several songs from each of them; they may have been tired after something like 23 nights of performing, but I don’t think I have heard either of them sing better or more powerfully than they did at Shebbear. It was wonderful – they were wonderful.

The works

Kevin came on stage looking very tired but he sang as beautifully as ever. He looks as if he has lost weight but none of his abilities or sense of fun. That mischievous twinkle was evident as usual even though he seemed weary at first.
As usual I can’t remember all the numbers or the order in which they came; the trouble is Kevin’s gigs are always so brilliant any thought except of having a great time goes flying straight out of my head. Within a few numbers about ten of us were up dancing, how other people can just sit like stuffed bears I don’t know! As usual there were a lot of jokes flying between the boys, at one point Robert and Paul cracked up, either something Kevin did or sang, whatever, a mystery to the audience but funny all the same. Kevin sang several of the new numbers that he had performed in the Polish Club and no doubt elsewhere. I hope this means there will be a new cd next year!
There was not the same amount of banter and story telling as I’ve seen before. Maybe because they were tired, maybe because they started late, maybe because they wanted to finish in good time as they had a long drive to Glasgow for Saturday night, maybe they felt distanced from the audience because they were up on stage and the audience were mostly sitting further back in the hall… They still packed in all the favourite songs and the new ones and Mike did another couple of numbers in the middle, ‘You Know that I will’ (It may have been ‘You Know That I will’ or ‘Little Things’ or ‘Paper Thin’) He’s a great singer; it would be so good to see him coming back to do a tour on his own.

Highlights

  • Robert’s tantalising intro to ‘Walk on the Wildside’
  • Robert calling the raffle, utterly baffled as to why the best prize was a huge organic veg box, and having one of his surreal rambles about a massage (what a tempting thought…!!!)
  • Bopping with my chum (shows our age!) and seeing Janet enjoying herself
  • Kevin’s new songs
  • Mike singing
  • Paul shivering (even Mr Cool does sometimes feel the cold apparently!)
  • Al doing what Al does so brilliantly (no standing on the stool this time)
  • Hearing ‘I don’t even know your name’ a favourite of mine which they don’t always do – last time in Shebbear the power went off half way through it
  • Robert (he’s always a highlight for me)
  • …and finally

    A most unusual end to the evening, no ‘Fear Nothing’. We finished with ‘Las Vegas’ which is such a great number always done so brilliantly by the Roadtrippers.
    As soon as the lights went up Paul started dismantling his drum kit and the others started putting away their things.
    Just as we were leaving Kevin came into the hall and came over and gave me a hug! He is so lovely, always has time for everyone no matter how tired he is. We had a little chat and I introduced him to Janet which was a great thrill for her. We had a long drive so regretfully we left Shebbear College. Sadly I didn’t manage to speak to Robert, it would have been so nice to have had a hug from him too! We drove home talking non-stop about our fabulous evening with a great orange half-moon low in the sky. A night to remember.

Just love this…

Seeing Kevin Montgomery tonight in Bristol… will he play this favourite? This is a very old recording, and times have changed a great deal for both Kevin and Robert who is singing here with him… I feel a little sad as I watch and listen to them… but seeing Kevin later will cheer me up!!

 

At the North Gate

We were in Oxford and stopped to admire, wonder at and photograph St Michael’s Tower at the North Gate. it dates from Anglo-Saxon times, built about a thousand years ago. it has its name for very obvious reasons, it is the city church for Oxford, dedicated to St Michael, and is on the site of what was the old city walls. Now it is where Ship Street runs into Cornmarket Street.

The tower is the oldest building in Oxford, and inside it you can see a door which led into the Martyr’s Cell, a cell where  Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, were held awaiting execution by being burned at the stake for heresy in 1555 and 1556.

The first time I ever came to Oxford was to see the Mavericks… it was on 23rd April 2004. As I was wandering round on a beautiful sunny afternoon, I saw Robert Reynolds the bass guitarist also wandering. He stopped by the tower and read the inscription, and put his hand on the old stones. he wandered away and I went and had a coffee, in a bookshop of course!