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Saturday, April 28, 2018


Last night, my wife and I went to the Mavericks show at the Iroquois Amphitheater. The 9-piece band sounded terrific and it was a beautiful night for outdoor music. The band included not only standard guitarist, drummers, and keyboard musicians, but also men who played the accordion, sax, upright bass, and two trumpets. Two!

Singer Raul Malo is very talented. Back in the day, he could have replaced the lead singer of virtually any given Americana or alt-country band -- and improved their sound.

Strangely, despite these strengths, the entire top section of the venue was nearly empty. This could have been because Louisville is a week out from the Kentucky Derby and there are many competing events all over town.  Yet, I suspect the Maverick's history and set list played a part.

The band was at its peak in the 1990s, so their fans are starting to age out of concerts. The crowd was definitely old for a rock show and few people were singing along with the songs -- very different from how the crowd behaved at the Old Crow Medicine Show performance we attended last year in the same venue. Granted, OCMS was performing Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, but the crowd knew the band's songs too when they eventually played some hits.

Trampoline, which may be the Maverick's best recording, was released 20 years ago. Within a few years of that recording, the band took a hiatus for about 7 years. Raul Malo had a solo career and sang as part of Los Super Seven. Oh, yes, I have their fantastic Heard it on the X CD -- but all these facts likely made it tough for the Mavericks to sustain a fan base.

The band's set list was kind of strange as well. They apparently had some top 40 (country) hits back in their heyday, but I'm not sure they had a specific single that everyone knows and associates with the band. I recognized most of the songs last night, but I have three of their CDs and am a fan.

The crowd did know (and sing along with) the handful of covers the Mavericks played -- including songs written or made famous by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, the BeeGees and the Drifters. See this, this, this, this, and this. These songs tended to highlight Malo's voice and some were played acoustically with minimal backing from the rest of the band.

Prior to the show, I talked to a number of people who were unfamiliar with the Maverick's music, so I started thinking about how to describe their eclectic sound. I finally ended up with Roy Orbison meets the Buena Vista Social Club. Los Lobos might have sounded like the Mavericks if they had been from Miami instead of LA.

So, about those empty seats: What a Crying Shame! 

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