“We are going to go back and put the Mavericks back together, dust the cobwebs off, go tour in the summer and we are going to make a new record,” said Malo, who has been recording and touring as a solo artist since the Mavericks stopped performing together in 2003. [About the long break, he offered,] “I would say that honestly it wasn’t any one thing in particular. It was almost like a perfect storm of these different opportunities.”
Those opportunities have actually brought Malo home in a way. After playing in small bands when he was a teen and young adult, Malo teamed with his high school friend Robert Reynolds to form the Mavericks. The two used the music of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and other traditional country artists as the foundation for their own contemporary music.
After signing with a major label and winning a GRAMMY and two Country Music Association Awards, Malo began to work even more influences”especially Latin, rock, and jazzformats”into the music he wrote. When fan excitement for the Mavericks lagged, Malo continued on as a solo musician.
“I never thought that the Mavericks would get back together,” he said. “I thought it was done, and I thought that was fine. That is part of life. Move on. I don’t want to go out and just play any and just run the band into the ground. I didn’t want to start to tour for the sake of the tour. That wasn’t appealing to me. I felt it was more special to me and if the [fan interest] wasn’t there, there was nothing we could do about it.”
Mandy Barnett has an old soul.
How else to explain her devotion to great vocalists ranging from Patsy Cline to Linda Ronstadt and Connie Francis? And how else would she be able to masterfully record some of the best-loved songs of Patsy Cline while adding a few subtle twists to make them her own?
“I am not a writer. I’m a vocalist and an interpreter of classics,” said Barnett by telephone from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville just before she was scheduled to perform. “Whether it’s the ’40s, ’50s or ’60s, I’m really drawn to the classics in each genre.”
She does them proud, too, as evidenced by the critical and popular thumbs up reviews she has received for her albums and concertsplus her theatrical role in Always….Patsy Cline. It was her role in the two-woman show that tells the story of Cline and her devoted fan Louise Seger that prompted fans to ask her to record some of Cline’s classics.
Barnett’s new twelve-song album Sweet Dreams, released May 24, includes many of the songs Cline made popular plus a few other favorites including the Irving Berlin standards “Always” and “Strange.”
Reinterpreting and recording such powerhouse songs is no easy task when you consider that most of the songs are ingrained in popular culture.
“We were trying to figure out how to breathe life into these songs,” said Barnett of the recording session. “It’s tough when you have someone like her that sings and interprets songs so beautifully. You want what you to do pay tribute to her but stand on its own.”
Although some classic Cline songs such as “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “Fall to Pieces” were recorded with the standard arrangements, Barnett is especially proud of other songs such as “Sweet Dreams” where tweaks made the songs more her own.
She credits producer Steve Gibson with working closely with her and the musicians to carefully polish the songs.
“He has been a very successful studio musician for many years now, and he’s very respectful of the music,” she said. “He brought a lot of great musicians to the table. I thought we were all really on the same page as far as the material. This was a very pleasurable record to make. It makes a big difference when you can record together [in the studio]. That really makes the most of it.”
Of course, starting with some of the finest songs in the country catalog gave Barnett and the whole team a true advantage, she said.
“The good thing is that these are all really good songs, very well written,” she said. “When you have that, you can do anything. It makes it so easy when the quality is so high.”
Find out more about Barnett and the new album Sweet Dreams on the Ryman Web site.
The theatrical production Always…Patsy Cline will run Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from June 17 until July 24 at the Ryman Auditorium. For information, check here.