by Patrick Fuller ’21
Formed in Florida during the rocking ’80s, The Mavericks have shaped their sound throughout the years. The group hit its stride in the mid-90s with What a Crying Shame, a twangy, old-school country album which paid homage to the likes of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash. With four singles off the platinum album landing in the country Top 40, the band decided to risk transforming its sound for subsequent projects.
In 1998, The Mavericks released Trampoline, solidifying their goal to showcase the voice of lead singer Raul Malo over Latin-pop instrumentation. Conflicts with various record companies drove the band apart and together again several times before reuniting in 2011 with pianist Jerry Dale McFadden, bassist Robert Reynolds, drummer Paul Deakin, guitarist Eddie Perez, and Malo rounding out the quintet. Despite parting ways with Reynolds due to his unfortunate opiate addiction, the band persisted in pleasing its fans, releasing Mono in 2015. This album went on to receive two Grammy nominations including Best Americana Album.
The Mavericks isolated their eclectic blend of Latin, rock, and country by launching their own label, Mono Mundo Recordings, in 2016. Shortly thereafter, in March 2017, almost 30 years since the group’s genesis, The Mavericks dropped Brand New Day, receiving two more Grammy nominations for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Song for “I Wish You Well.”
However, the incredibly prolific group is coming to The Strand in Providence on Dec. 4 to promote their recent holiday album, Hey! Merry Christmas! According to AllEyesMedia, the album “…features eight new seasonal originals and The Mavs’ readings of two Yuletide perennials, Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ and Irving Berlin’s ‘Happy Holiday.’”
Listening to the band’s expansive catalog with its ambitious genre-bending and instrumentation leads to wonder over just how The Mavericks bring it all together live. The Los Angeles Times comments, “…the band’s exuberant live shows… channel an energy and a gleeful disregard for musical boundaries that also has been a hallmark of the Mavericks’ albums.”
The band’s fun blend of Cuban jazz, blues, and swing should make for a festive, 50s-esque dance party at The Strand. Tickets are available through the venue’s website.
The four-piece folk band Darlingside formed in 2009 at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The group’s stripped-down instrumentation and seamless harmonies bring to mind contemporary acts like Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, and The Lone Bellow while achieving comparisons to Crosby, Stills and Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Byrds.
Although the band is young, and its catalog limited, Darlingside has already garnered tremendous success, especially with their most recent album, Extralife. The album earned them a performance on the prestigious NPR Tiny Desk Concert Series where the band showcased its unique live performance style.
Don Mitchell (guitar, banjo, vocals), Auyon Mukharji (mandolin, violin, vocals), Harris Paseltiner (guitar, cello, vocals), and David Senft (bass, kick drum, vocals) surround a single condenser microphone, allowing for the unity of their voices and the variety of their instrumentation to create an intimate concert experience. Yet the bandmates’ whacky personalities, as illustrated by their website biographies, do not prevent socio-politicalcommentary. The band may stop to joke in between songs, but the lyrical content of Extralife “…conjures the feeling and texture of end times while leaving plenty of space for the listener to decide just what such an event would actually look like.”
In short, the album appears to reflect the serious, critical side of the individual members. The band boasts The Unicorn of Friendship as its mascot and fearlessly banters with NPR Tiny Desk host Bob Boilen but preaches the impending apocalypse when they step behind the microphone. This harsh contrast between individual optimism and artistic cynicism intersects in Extralife, offering listeners a hauntingly relevant tale of social decline.
On Dec. 9, Darlingside will come to the Columbus Theatre Upstairs with special guest Henry Jamison. Rhode Island Monthly says of the theatre, “And for the folks who are there to truly see, hear, and experience the music, the 200-seat venue is about as intimate as it gets.” The venue, originally built in 1926 for vaudeville and silent films, provides Darlingside with the perfect opportunity to showcase their harmonies and apocalyptic thought. Tickets are available on the Columbus Theatre website.