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Members include Paul Deakin (born c. 1959 in Ohio), drums; Nick Kane (replaced Ben Peeler and David Lee Holt), lead guitar; Raul Malo (born c. 1965 in Miami, FL), songwriting, vocals, guitar; Robert Reynolds (born c. 1962 in Kansas City, MO; married Trisha Yearwood [a country singer], 1994), vocals, bass. Addresses: Record company--MCA Records, 60 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203. Management--TCA Group, P.O. Box 23329, Nashville, TN 37202.
The Mavericks, a country band whose neo-honky-tonk tunes hark back to the 1950s and 1960s, found success in Nashville with the release of their second major label album, What a Crying Shame, in 1994. The album's breakthrough helped to introduce country fans to the group's poetic, socially-conscious worldview and raucous, rock-influenced delivery. "To players as seasoned as the Mavericks, the simple chord changes and boom-chicka-boom bass lines of country music aren't exactly rocket science," wrote Doug Adrianson in the Miami Herald. "What grabs your attention are the instantly unforgettable melodies ... and the unanimous vigor of the band's playing." Adrianson added that the Mavericks' rockabilly twang provides "the freshest sound in town."
Odd success stories are a Nashville staple, but few can top that of the Mavericks, who formed in Miami in 1989, attracted a loyal following in the trendy rock clubs of Miami's South Beach, and emerged as stars after their first major-label album sold less than 20,000 copies. Lead vocalist and songwriter Raul Malo told the Charlotte Observer that he wrote a more commercially appealing mix of songs for the group's second album in order to "keep this band and this music alive." He added: "That was always on the back of our mind, but you try not to let that cloud your judgment too much. The so-called integrity thing is so subjective, but I know we can sleep well at night with what we've done."
Some critics have accused the Mavericks of lightening up their message and style in order to appeal to a wider range of listeners. In fact, the band owes its very success to its members' insistence upon artistic integrity at a time when they couldn't even make a subsistence wage as performers. The group was founded in 1989 by Malo, a Cuban American and native of Miami whose parents had fled the regime of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro. Malo, who grew up listening to his parents' collection of country records, gravitated to pop music as a teen. He played in Miami pop-rock bands, including the Tomboys and the Basics, until the night he heard Rodney Crowell perform at a club in Miami Beach. He told the Miami Herald: "I knew at that moment that he was doing exactly what I wanted to do." Malo quit the Basics to form a new band of his own.
First Malo recruited acoustic guitar player Ben Peeler-- himself a classically trained college music student. After several months with various backup players, the duo approached bassist Robert Reynolds and drummer Paul Deakin, two close friends who had also been playing in pop bands. The quartet quickly adopted the Mavericks as a good name for their band, and small wonder--they found work not in the numerous country music clubs in Broward County but in the rock venues of South Beach. The country music clubs spurned them because they wanted to play original songs rather than merely covering other stars' hits.
"The greatest thing about the band is that it was started for the right reasons: to play, with no idea of what was going to happen," Malo explained in the Miami Herald. "We started playing around town with no real expectations. People started coming out, and before you knew it every place we played was packed. We'd get these thrash kids-- the punks, heavy metal kids with mohawks--thinking we were the hippest thing in town. And we'd get these older people coming out because we were playing country music."
For more than two years the Mavericks reveled in their local popularity, augmenting their meager earnings as performers with day jobs and occasional appearances with more conventional bands. Gradually--as Malo added more and more songs he had written to their play list--they began to ponder the possibilities of landing a recording contract with a big Nashville record company. In 1991 the group scraped together $7,000 and recorded a 13-song album that was released by the Miami-based Yesterday & Today Records. The idea was not to sell a massive number of albums--in fact, only about 5,000 were produced--but to interest a bigger company in the band's sound and style.
The ploy was a common one, but for the Mavericks it worked like a charm. Executives at several Nashville studios competed with one another to sign the group. Late in 1991 MCA Records arranged for the Mavericks to play a concert in Nashville. Producer Tony Brown signed the band to a multiple record deal--so the story goes--before the musicians had even finished their sound check. The Mavericks' first MCA album, From Hell to Paradise, was released in the spring of 1992.
Dark and poetic with songs about child abuse, run-down neighborhoods, and the plight of political refugees, From Hell to Paradise won rave reviews for the Mavericks from record critics. But country radio stations failed to play the singles MCA released from the album. As a result, sales of From Hell to Paradise failed even to cover production costs, and the Mavericks found themselves booked into hotel lounges and country fairs. They still had the multiple-record deal, though, and Malo decided his band was well worth preserving. He teamed with some of Nashville's most successful songwriters, including Kostas and Harlan Howard, and wrote a new group of songs in the time-honored honky-tonk tradition of love lost and found.
The resulting work, What a Crying Shame, brought the Mavericks the exposure they had hoped for. With some hard work by the radio promotions department at MCA, the title song became a hit; the album was certified gold in sales just a few months after its 1994 release. (It later went platinum.) The Mavericks, with new lead guitarist Nick Kane, found commercial success without compromising their rowdy rockabilly sound. Miami Herald music critic Fernando Gonzalez wrote: "The lyrics of the newer songs might be more in the conventional ... country fare, but in their delivery, the Mavericks deftly undercut sentimentality with no-nonsense urgency. This band doesn't exactly wallow in emotion. Malo says his piece and moves on--broken heart or not."
Having established themselves in Music City, the Mavericks embarked on the standard record-and-tour lifestyle of major country artists. Reynolds married singer Trisha Yearwood in 1994, and he and the other members of the group have all moved to Nashville. "If you dug old country music like we did, and were so far away from the place it originated," Reynolds told the Philadelphia Daily News, "then moved to this town and were living blocks from the Ryman Auditorium [home of the original Grand Ole Opry], you start thinking just pure good ol' country music."
Malo, whose engaging tenor vocals serve to anchor the group, added that he plans to continue melding traditional and novel sounds in his songs. "You know that fine line between rock 'n' roll and country?" he asked in the Philadelphia Daily News. "We just kind of want to make it a little wider so we can walk on it." When asked about the group's future efforts, Malo told Country Music contributor Patrick Carr, "I'm a little reluctant to use the term 'ballroom country,' but that's what I have in mind, something very swinging and sophisticated."
by Anne Janette Johnson
Mavericks, The's Career
Malo and Peeler formed group the Mavericks, 1989, in Miami, FL; released first album, The Mavericks, 1991; signed with MCA Records, 1992.
Mavericks, The's Awards
Platinum album award for What a Crying Shame, 1995.
- Selective Works
- The Mavericks, Yesterday & Today, 1991.
- From Hell to Paradise, MCA, 1992.
- What a Crying Shame, MCA, 1994.
- Charlotte Observer, November 10, 1994.
- Country Music, March/April 1995.
- Lexington Herald-Leader, February 10, 1994.
- Miami Herald, April 21, 1990; December 7, 1990; November 2, 1991; August 15, 1993; October 27, 1994; November 2, 1994.
- Philadelphia Daily News, April 16, 1994.
- Additional information for this profile was obtained from MCA Nashville publicity materials.
Mavericks, The Lyrics
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