Raul Malo brought his dog onstage while performing, so in my book he could have played just one bad, out-of-tune song and left, and I still would have loved him.
However, Raul Malo was wonderful in every other way, as well.
He returned to the New Hope Winery Feb. 7 and made me regret that one of the recent snows forced me to miss his previous two-night stand there. This was an excellent one man-show (well, one-man and one-dog show).
With only a triple O, nylon string guitar and his mesmerizing voice, and assisted by his loyal hound, Clementine, Malo held a crowded house spellbound for almost two hours.
Opening with Jim Reeves’ country classic Welcome To My World he did a short three-song set consisting of his own Lucky One, Hank Williams’ immortal Cold, Cold Heart and Ray Peterson’s The Wonder of You. He then spent a few minutes reflecting on his 25 years with the Mavericks (one of my favorite bands), followed by an extended dissertation concerning the paucity of decent restaurants along Virginia’s Route 81 (he ended up in a Denny’s packed with four simultaneous birthday parties).
Then Clementine took the stage and stole the show, meandering about, sniffing this and that until she finally decided to take a nap in his guitar case. Of course, being a rather large boxer, she barely managed to stuff herself in, it but she proceeded to take a rather peaceful nap for the duration of the show.
One of my favorites was a charming but unknown Johnny Mercer tune, Love Goes On and On, which he saw on an unnamed cartoon show and which has apparently never been released anyplace else.
Other notable moments included Lonely Is A Man Without Love, Twilight Time, Stardust, and a wonderful finish with Roy Orbison’s immortal Crying.
If you aren’t familiar with Malo’s albums or those of his stellar band I highly recommend them. The wonderful lilting Cuban warble in his voice is a gift from his Havana-born family and, added to perfect pitch and a resonant timbre, it makes for one of the leading vocalists in modern American music. Those who aren’t familiar with his band, the Mavericks, might make a point of trying some of their albums or shows. The award-winning quintet with Malo as the front man has a long string of hits and are highly regarded by critics and audiences everywhere. Their upcoming tour will feature the outstanding Eddie Perez on guitar.
Those that haven’t caught a show at the Winery, particularly an intimate one-person shows like Malo’s, should make an effort to do so. It is a wonderful venue.
Upcoming events include Mary Fahl of October Project on Feb. 14 and the Smithereens on Feb. 28.