The Mavericks add Latin sound to classic country at Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival

Frontman Raul Malo’s unwavering vocals rocked Stephens Lake Park on Saturday.


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If you've never watched a fully grown man rock out in the front row of a concert while wearing a Gateway Arch-themed balloon hat with two more balloon animals stacked on top, you probably are in the majority of the population.

If you have, however, you were likely at The Mavericks set at the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park.

The Miami-born, Nashville-raised group played the second-to-last set on the Missouri Lottery Stage on Saturday night, drawing what appeared to be one of the largest audiences of the festival, peppered with tie-dye T-shirts and cowboy boots.

The Mavericks abstained from any grand entrances to start their performance and instead let the music do the talking with the pulsing beat of “Rolling Along.” One by one, nine band members sauntered onto the stage, effortlessly blasting their Cuban-inspired rhythms, along with two go-go dancers. Frontman Raul Malo finally emerged and took center stage as the audience was already dancing wildly.

Fans kept gyrating as The Mavericks started “Back In Your Arms Again” from their first album since 2004, In Time. The song’s thrilling liveliness paired with Malo’s steady, baritone-funk vocals made for an effortless, multi-thousand-person dance party.

Catchiness was key throughout the next song, “Dance in the Moonlight,” as the audience caught on to Malo’s repeated “Oohs” and “Ahhs” to sing along. Accordionist Michael Guerra served just enough cowbell, and two trumpeters perfectly balanced trills with powerhouse blasts.

This jam hooked the audience, allowing The Mavericks to slow it down.

"It's a beautiful night for a waltz, isn't it?” Malo said as he sat behind a keyboard to strike the opening piano chords of “Goodnight Waltz.”

Drummer Paul Deakin thrummed along with percussion brushes as Guerra mirrored Malo’s piano melody on accordion. “Goodnight Waltz” was mashed up with country music pioneer Ernest Tubb’s 1965 song “Waltz Across Texas.”

“When you look at me with those stars in your eyes, I could waltz across Texas with you,” Malo sang.

The Mavericks didn’t stop adding their Americana-Western flair to classics there. Later in the set, they covered David Bowie’s “Heroes” and Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”

Berry’s song has been recorded by both Emmylou Harris and John Prine, who performed at this year’s Roots N Blues as well.

The party kept going with “As Long as There’s Lovin’ Tonight.” Two band members repeatedly high-fived with tambourines to add a metallic beat to the groove. The song made way for an instrumental portion starting with keyboardist Jeremy Dale McFadden, clad in a kelly green suit. McFadden rocked with his leg up in air while beating the keyboard like the world's angriest masseur, followed by a battle of the brass, with two trumpeters and a saxophonist blasting. When Malo returned to the main microphone, a sea of audience hands shot in the air and were painted with strobe lights.

The Mavericks ended the set with hit “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” complete with a ‘60s-style dance battle between McFadden and Columbia-native go-go dancers “Sparkarella” and “Cherry Bopper.”

The audience chanted "One more!” to no avail once The Mavericks left the stage.

Edited by Claire Colby |

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