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The Mavericks
Parker Playhouse, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Saturday, January 14, 2023

By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro | Photo by Tom Craig

Wow, where do I start?  Or did I already, with wow?  Yep, that works…wow! wow! WOW! WOW!  That is the perfect word to describe my feelings about this concert – which, BTW, was my very first Mavericks experience – another perfect word.

Although I’ve been hearing about The Mavericks for what seems like forever, somehow, I just never became a follower.  In my defense, the reason for that is probably the fact that for the last forty-five or more years, I have been a total blues snob and have rarely gone to anything but blues shows.  As a matter of fact, during some of my many visits to Nashville, I actually did see some of the bands’ members sitting in with other bands, but they were always blues bands.  The latest of those events was back in November when I saw the band’s sax player – Max Abrams – sitting in with the McKinley James Band, at the “5 Spot”.  That same night, I met Mike Reynolds, the band’s manager and Rudy Newman, the band’s road manager.  Once the conversation turned to The Mavericks upcoming Ft. Lauderdale gig, me going was a no-brainer.

Okay, so the show starts, and it took not much longer than the first song for the full house to be on their feet dancing and singing-a-long.  Oddly enough, by the third song – this virgin who did not know one Mavericks’ song, was singing-a-long as well.  With many of their songs having lots of very catchy chorus lines, getting wrapped up in them came naturally.  By the way, that opening song was titled “We’ll Just Keep Rolling Along”, and after close to thirty-five years, that’s not just a song, it’s a slogan.

Before I go any further, let me tell you the names of those I’ll be adorning with praise. The nucleus, and I believe founders, of the Mavericks are: Raul Malo on lead vocals and guitar; Paul Deakin on drums; Jerry Dale McFadden on keyboards, vocals and non-stop dancing; and Eddie Perez on lead guitar and vocals; with the rest of the nine-piece band being: Ed Friedland on bass; Max Abrams on saxophone and percussion; Julio Diaz on trumpet and percussion; Lorenzo Molina on percussion, trumpet and trombone; Percy Cardona on accordion.

One of the nights many highlights for me was hearing The Mavericks rendition of “Blue Moon”.  Now I know the song is a standard that goes back to the thirties, but as a thirteen-year-old, it was The Marcels who introduced it to me back in 1961.  That said, this was nothing like the “bomb-a-bomb bomb, ding-a-ding ding, dang-a dang dang, dit-da dit-da dit,” doo wop version of “Blue Moon” I grew up listening to.  Nope, what it was was one of the sexiest versions of the song I, and probably the rest of the audience, had ever heard.  The fact that, unlike during most of the other songs, you could hear a pin drop while everyone listened to Raul sing and play his heart out on acoustic guitar, was a testament to that.

Strangely enough, another magical moment was when midway through the show the band did several songs in Spanish.  The lead in Raul gave was that they were songs off of the band’s newest album – “En Español” – which was recorded all in Spanish.  Despite the fact that I did not understand one word off of one song, during that thirty-minute segment I loved every word of every song.  Inasmuch as it was happening from the beginning of the show, it was at this point that I realized this bunch of maestros had won me over.  BTW, since Raul also mentioned that “En Español” was just about 850 copies away from a major milestone, I’d like to be one of the first to say “Congratulations on your first gold record”…..which it must be by now.

There was a point in the show where I leaned over to the Blewzzlady and said “This has got to be the closing number”.  For the life of me I have no idea of its title and in actuality, that doesn’t matter.  It was a lengthy number that while steadily increasing with intensity, was highlighted by everyone being individually featured.  As it came time to feature Percy, Max, Julio, and Lorenzo on accordion, saxophone, trumpet and trombone, they each did so by coming front stage and staying there till the songs end.  At that point, what was taking place on the stage could only be described as an instrumental orgy.  Again, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!

As it turned out, I was happily wrong because this was not the closing number.  The band went on to play another song or two totaling two solid hours, of a solid performance of what I’ve heard people call pop/rock, folk, Americana, neo-traditionalist country, country, contemporary country, country-rock, progressive country, new traditionalist, retro-rock – and depending on where you go to look, many other ‘things’.  From what I heard, I’ll just call it something like The Miami Sound Machine going to The Grand Ol’ Opry then to the School of Rock.

So, with the show now over, everyone in the capacity crowd of nearly 1200 were on their feet wanting to hear “More! More! More!”  And, as I doubt the Mavericks ever will, they did not disappoint.  After that, there was no more sitting as the packed house stood, danced and sang their way through encore of what are apparently two of The Mavericks iconic songs: “As Long As There’s Loving Tonight” and “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down”.

During the night the word “cult” came to my mind several times, and as I wondered if The Mavericks were one, I couldn’t help but think that this sold-out crowd would most likely unanimously say yes.  If indeed they are, will someone please pass me the Kool-Aid?

If, like me, you are someone who needs to find out more about The Mavericks, you can check them out at – www.themavericksband.com – and like their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/TheMavericksMusic/.
Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.

On a side note, there’s a good chance that this night may not have happened if not for a very special friend who rolls out the red carpet and takes me under her wing every time I go to Nashville – Gina Hughes, I love and thank you. – Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro

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