Raul Malo: Real Country Music Lost In The Pop-Culture Forest

malo web George Gutierrez.JPG
George Gutierrez
Former Mavericks lead singer Raul Malo brings a new band and a new album, Saints & Sinners, to House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room next Saturday, Oct. 2. Self-produced in Malo's home studio, Sinners features guest appearances by Augie Meyers and Shawn Sahm of the Texas Tornados - who play a free show at Discovery Green at 6:30 p.m. tonight with Los Pistoleros de Tejas, by the way - and even a song called "San Antonio Baby."

Lonesome Onry and Mean recently interviewed the effusive and eloquent singer from his home in Nashville. We traversed a wide range of subjects, but you'll have to wait for the print edition next week for the full report. In the meantime, here's an appetizer with the Cuban-American crooner.

Lonesome Onry and Mean: My dad lives in a small agricultural town in Central Texas. He likes to stop by the bank and have a cup of coffee when I visit him. He always introduces me to people as "My son, the country music writer." And that almost always prompts comments along the lines of, "Well, what they play on the radio ain't country music."

Often like it's my fault! People always want my opinion of whether 'real' country music will ever make a comeback. You live in the belly of the beast. Do you see anything encouraging happening in mainstream country?

Raul Malo: Now you're trying to ask me something that will probably get me in some kind of trouble. But what I see that's positive is that more and more people seem to be asking that kind of stuff.

Realize that the Nashville mainstream is no different than the L.A. or New York City mainstream, it's all part of pop culture. Country music used to purposely cater to something outside the mainstream.

In the '90s, when we were thinking of leaving Miami, the Mavericks didn't move to New York or L.A. because we thought if there's anyplace where we fit in, it's here. But since we moved here, Nashville has more and more deliberately and calculatedly gone after mainstream.

I compare pop culture to being in a forest. On top, everything is all green, there's this frothy, pretty layer. But once you get your eyes off that, if you scratch under a rock you can still find some very interesting stuff going on that doesn't fit the green, frothy, pretty standard.

The mainstream is an ugly, disposable place, and that's not what country music was ever about.

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