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The Mavericks live up to their name

By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 1996

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"I don't think we ever set out to do anything on purpose," Kane said. "That's the only thing about this band. We never operated with any kind of rulebook. We've been fortunate."

Kane said his experience in music - he recorded with Preacher and a blues group, Iko Iko - taught him "you can just about do anything you want to do as long as do it well."

The CD was recorded in December 1994 with Don Cook of Brooks & Dunn fame and Malo producing at the end of a long and hard year of touring. "We spent a lot of time listening to '50's and early '60's music on the tour bus," Kane said. "It could be simply that. We listened to a lot of Louis Prima, Sinatra, Esquival, just old, cool shit. I'm sure that all had a little something to do with it."

"Raul likes that stuff, and we love that stuff," Kane said, adding that the attitude was, "Let's do it and see what happens."

When it came time for picking the 11 songs on the disc, that was pretty much up to Malo, the only songwriter for the band. Like "Crying Shame," Malo wrote with other songsmiths, particularly Kostas and Al Anderson.

"I guess he had about 15 songs ready, and we went through all of them, and whatever felt right came together," Kane said.

While the band members whittle down the list, "it was pretty much his choice," Kane said.

And he indicated there were no problems with the control exercised by Malo in song selection. "As a singer, you're the one out front," he said. "You're the one making a fool of yourself. You have to make (what) fits your style. You can't be afraid. You have to get the right stuff going."

"The music of the band is shaped around Raul's voice first and foremost," Kane said. "Also, it's around his songs. So, in that sense he is very much the focal point of the band. You can't ignore that fact. I've learned from many years of being a sideman that the best thing of being an instrumentalist is you make this guy sound as good as he possibly can. That applies for a band situation as well. What use would be it if me or Paul started fucking up (on purpose)? It just doesn't work like that."

Also helping as usual was wildman Jerry Dale McFadden, a Hartford native, who pounds the keyboards in his lively style.

As for the cocktail sound, Kane said, "Again, that's something that we didn't do on purpose. That's definitely a large part of The Mavs thing. We have lava lamps on stage. It's a cool thing, and we're into it. It maybe recalls an age of innocence. It seems that way in retrospect. It's a certain style, a certain class going on, where people dressed better. It's a certain allure, a certain appeal. We weren't caught up so much in the age of mass communications and mass corporations ruling our lives. I've always dug the music from those days."

The feel also is evident by the CD cover with old-style lettering, the word "stereo" prominently displayed and artifacts and clothing from several decades ago.

The ultimate ode to the era may be the closing song, "Something Stupid." Yep, the very same one done by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Malo does his duet with Trisha Yearwood, Reynolds' wife.

"It was probably just an experiment," Kane said. "I guess Raul was looking for a project to have a duet with Trisha. This thing just presented itself. Raul has a deep love for Sinatra." Yearwood and The Mavs played gigs together at times in year's past before the band hit their stride.

"Sometimes you just put your blinders on and go forward, and try to make the best out of it," Kane said.

That about sums up the attitude of The Mavericks in general.

The disc went gold in April, representing sales of 500,000 units. That's a far cry from the 1.5 million of "What a Crying Shame."

The success of The Mavericks could indicate that things are a-changing in Nashville. "Things are changing for the better," he said. "I think right now, there is some fine music coming out of Nashville. That hasn't happened too much...That's a healthy thing."

"People are getting away from the norm, the status quo, which I haven't been happy with at all," he said. "It's very formula oriented, the music didn't matter so much. It was more about image and replicating and duplicating sound and songs."

"That stuff just bores me to hell," Kane said. "This is the first country band I've ever been in."

"We might be at the beginning of the a new era in Nashville country," he said.

The Mavericks intend to be part of it, all the while aiming higher. "We average about 2,500 a night," Kane said. "That's not that huge, you know. That's still a pretty limited audience really. In that sense, we're still struggling for wider acceptance. We do have our very strong core of fans. We have very much (become) media darlings. You guy love us. Which is great, but...we still don't have a top 10."

At least they do have hardware for the cabinet case. "It sure looks good on paper - Grammy award winning band, and it does probably open doors a little easier, especially on the international music circuit," Kane said. "But when it really comes down to the nitty gritty, we still have to really work our butts off and tour and tour and tour."

"The act of survival hasn't really changed that much," Kane said.

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