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Don's Music Views
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The Mavericks/BR5-49 Live on July, 26, 1998 at the Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, CT

The Mavericks and BR5-49 have teamed up to deliver what is probably the most interesting country music show, for the non-country fan, this summer. The Mavericks are an excellent country band that crosses over into so many other musical genres that I canít even list them all here and BR5-49 would best be described as hillbilly punk. This stuff may be called country by some but itís definitely not the same country music that your parents used to listen to.

BR5-49 kicked things off with a rollicking set that managed to get the crowd in the mood and highlight their unique brand of musicianship. The hillbilly punksters were completely absorbed in their performance and while they did stop to chat between songs it was usually just strategically placed interaction that allowed an instrument change or some other adjustment within the band. The most spontaneous moment was when they reacted to a groan from the crowd, after they announced that they were going to slow things down for a ballad. The band immediately popped back into high gear after the brief ballad and rocked through the remainder of their set. The crowd clearly wanted an encore, but was denied, as the house lights went on.

The Mavericks attract a weird mix of people these days. They still draw the country crowd but at the same time bring in new converts from everywhere and anywhere. The touring version of the band includes a 4-piece horn section, with a sax player who doubles on flute when needed, a keyboardist, and a multi-instrumentalist in addition to the four actual band members.

Raul Malo is clearly the leader of the group and even gets his own solo spot for a couple songs while the rest of the band takes a "beer break." Raulís gift is an incredibly versatile voice which allows him to sing exceptionally well in several different styles, and languages. Whether leading the band or accompanying himself on acoustic guitar the man ranks among the best.

The other Mavericks, Paul Deakin on drums, Robert Reynolds on bass, and Nick Kane on guitar are all top-notch musicians who could be leading their own groups if they so desired. Nick Kane, who doesnít even have a microphone on stage, seems calm as he slowly walks around while he plays but heís obviously in deep concentration and focused on the task of playing his guitar. He may not bother to step into the spotlight much but his playing definitely shines. The combination of all four, as the Mavericks, is simply an awesome force. These guys, together, can play circles around almost any band out there. If there is such a thing as a "supergroup" the Mavericks are it.

This show drew a disappointingly small crowd of maybe 2,000 in a theater that can hold 4,800. As expected, the Mavericks delivered and by the end of the night the surprisingly restrained crowd was dancing in the aisles. The only complaint I have is with the length of the show. The Mavericks were only on stage for approximately 80 minutes, and that included the encores. Come on guys, youíre headliners now, another 5 or 6 songs wouldnít have killed you and I wouldnít have had anything negative to say here. Expand the set list a little and come back again next year. Iíll be there.