Friday Night Fun Post - A Date With Raul Malo and The Mavericks

Raul Malo and The Mavericks play The Pageant in St. Louis, Missouri, 4/13/23 (Credit: Susie Moore)

Full credit to my handsome beau — he’s responsible for introducing me to two of my favorite musical acts: The Avett Brothers and The Mavericks. Both are liberally sprinkled throughout his playlist and I became acquainted with and developed an affection for both groups because of it. Together, we’ve seen The Avett Brothers six or seven times in concert, and Thursday evening, we saw The Mavericks for the third time.


If you’re not familiar with The Mavericks, a quick introduction: Fronted by lead vocalist Raul Malo, the band has been around — in various incarnations — for over 30 years.

The Mavericks, the eclectic rock and country group known for crisscrossing musical boundaries with abandon, has gone through three distinct phases since it was founded in Miami in 1989. An initial period of heady success marked by big hits and critical acclaim in the ‘90s. A long hiatus starting 2003 when the musicians each went their own way. And finally, a triumphant reunion in 2012 which held long enough for them to recently celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary.

A bit of background on Malo explains the roots of the band’s eclectic sound:

He was christened Raúl Francisco Martínez-Malo Jr., the son of Cuban exiles who was born and raised in the stimulating immigrant environment of Miami’s Little Havana.

His parents, Raul Sr. and Norma, both came to the United States in the early 60s, fleeing Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. They met after arriving in Miami, got married and bought a home in the shadow of the old Orange Bowl, west of downtown. The hub of the growing clan was the abode of Malo’s maternal grandfather, who himself had immigrated from Spain to Cuba, later bringing his family to Florida.

As Malo entered adolescence in the 1970s, the Latin music industry was flourishing in the United States. Pop and folk music from many countries flooded Latin communities. Recordings from many countries were distributed domestically by major labels, sold in neighborhood discotecas, and broadcast on television and radio via a booming network of Spanish-language media.

Malo’s musical milieu was a mind-expanding cultural mashup.  At home, there was a family piano to play at family gatherings, and his grandfather regaled guests with his “beautiful baritone,” Malo recalls.  And there was a stream of music always in the air. Songs by Cuba’s venerable Omara Portuondo, Mexico’s romantic Trio Los Panchos, and brash mariachi superstar Vicente Fernandez. But his father also loved Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, while his mother exposed him to the refined art of opera and classical music.


In addition to the core members — Malo, Paul Deakin on drums, Eddie Perez on lead guitar, and Jerry Dale McFadden on keyboards — the act features a horn section, an accordion player, and a bass guitarist who all contribute to the lively Latin-country-rock sound.

This video, featuring one of their better-known hits, is from 2013, shortly after the aforementioned reunion.


I’m fairly sure the first time I saw them in concert was with the beau at The Pageant in St. Louis, in May 2017.

I know for certain we saw them in September 2018 at the Roots ‘n Blues Festival in Columbia, Missouri.

The Mavericks at the Roots ‘n Blues Festival, Columbia, MO, 9/29/18 (Credit: Susie Moore)

(The third time was supposed to be in May of 2020, but COVID, unfortunately, saw fit to put the kibosh on that.)

Below is a video of more recent vintage, showcasing another one of their foot-stomping, hand-clapping hits. (It’s virtually impossible to listen and not want to kick up your heels.)


Thursday night’s show was no exception. Following an enjoyable opening set from McKinley James, Malo and The Mavericks put on a great show for two solid hours. Most songs I recognized, though a couple, I didn’t. The majority were up-tempo, but there was a slow song that afforded the beau and me a long overdue slow dance.


The thing that stood out to me about last night’s show was that the joy didn’t just exude from the band — the crowd was equally energetic, even though the beau and I, at 54, were toward the younger end of the age spectrum. No one was sitting still and most every face had a smile on it.

And it occurred to me what a blessing it was to be out, in a crowd, celebrating music and drink and life and, for a little while, not worrying quite so much about the world’s woes.

When my RedState colleague Andrew Malcolm learned of our concert plans, he shared his own affection for The Mavericks and sent me the thoroughly enjoyable video below, featuring another favorite: “Dance the Night Away.”


I invite you to watch these videos and listen to the infectiously fun sound of The Mavericks. And I dare you to do so without tapping your toes and grinning ear to ear.


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