March 28, 2019
Raul Malo stood outside his black tour bus behind the Paramount on Saturday afternoon. The lead singer and co-founder of The Mavericks grinned like a man who’d just stumbled upon a wad of cash. Instead, the colossal-voiced singer had simply returned from a walk about Bristol.
“I had lunch at 620 State,” said Malo. “Really good food, man! This town looks different, better than the last time I was here.”
He was a kid back then, strolling along the sidewalks of State Street.
“Is the Cameo open?” Malo said. “I walked by there today, and it looks great. I remember seeing a movie there one time.”
Several hours later, parking spaces near and far from the Paramount filled with automobiles whose former passengers eagerly queued outside the venerable theater on State Street. When summoned to enter, fans of The Mavericks quickly found their seats. But for a handful of strays, the velvety red seats of the Paramount were occupied – except for most of two hours.
Malo and The Mavericks led Bristol on a two-hour excursion of music. By way of the world, the singer of Cuban descent launched from a foundation of country. From there and through such tunes as Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” and their own “O What A Thrill,” landscapes of sounds followed.
A three-piece horn section and an accordionist augmented The Mavericks’ four-man backbone. Swaths of Latin America colored tunes including “Rolling Along” in florid hues of happiness. Horns honked while Malo moved butts to rise from their seats to shake along to such songs as “Easy as it Seems.”
Entertainment thrived. A parade of showmanship bounded forth from Malo’s theater-encompassing voice during their smash from 1994, “What A Crying Shame.” He elicited oohs and ahs as he strolled through Bruce Springsteen’s “All That Heaven Will Allow.”
Flanked by guitar wizard Eddie Perez and keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden, Malo enraptured. On the stage upon which Gene Autry and his horse Champion long ago captivated Bristol, Malo and The Mavericks cast all who attended spellbound. Decades apart, showmanship created memories for a lifetime courtesy Autry then and Malo now.
Moments after the show, Malo nursed a beer and a salad backstage. Sweaty and smiling, he expressed admiration for the Paramount, Bristol, and those who embraced them so endearingly.
“I want to come back,” Malo said. “I would like to come back to Bristol and the Paramount every year. I mean that.”