The phone conversation was designed to promote his Club Cafe gig tonight in Pittsburgh. But the subject was bound to change.
Especially considering lead singer Raul Malo recently announced a 2012 reunion of his former band, The Mavericks.
Calling the Lane from Nashville earlier this week, Malo was set to hop aboard his holiday sleigh and head out on what's become an annual "Christmas Tour' of selected cities. He stressed Pittsburgh is a priority stop.
"I've always loved playing that city. Not only because (they) play my music on local radio," he laughed. "I just seem to connect well with the Pittsburgh audience."
The feeling is mutual for those who've enjoyed one of the most recognizable voices in popular music. In the early 90s, Malo, then living in Miami's eclectic Cuban neighborhood, formed the Mavericks that included bassist Robert Reynolds and drummer Paul Deakin.
The band hit it big in 1994, recording its best-selling record ever. "What a Crying Shame" produced four hit singles, including the wildly popular title track.
With sales over 1.2 million, the Mavericks transformed from primary club players to the big stage. In fact, Malo immediately recalled the band's one and only appearance at Jamboree in the Hills in the summer of '94.
"What a crowd! We enjoyed every minute," Malo advised. "We'd definitely love being invited back." Perhaps not out of the question considering Malo and his reformed band are in the process of scheduling several festival-setting dates this summer.
By then, the Mavericks will be touring in support of a new record which Malo says they'll begin work on in January. "We're probably looking at getting back in the studio over a few weeks in January and February with a late spring/early summer release," he noted.
Malo added he's already written a number of songs for the new project. "We'll wait and see what happens with it. Hopefully, everything comes together and we get that 'old' feeling back."
For tonight's over-21 Club Cafe performance, Malo will break out a few holiday standards. In 2007, he recorded a holiday-themed CD, "Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites. " Malo's three sons - Dino, Vincent and Max - served as backing vocalists.
His lengthy set lists also includes songs from a successful solo career spanning the past decade.
Malo's late 2010 recording, 'Sinners & Saints' was previously featured in the Left Lane and found the 46-year-old tapping into his deep appreciation for Latin music in addition for his love of country, blues, jazz and vintage rock and roll.
Malo's Pittsburgh set begins at 8:00 tonight. Doors open at 7 at the city's intimate South Side night spot.
THE Mavericks first reunion gig is set in late April at 'Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival,' a three-day event located in the desert community of Indio, approximately two hours east of Los Angeles.
The festival lineup features numerous headliners including Glen Dale's Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, The Band Perry, Justin Moore, The Jayhawks and dozens more... Aldean has been announced as a Jamboree in the Hills headliner this summer....
MALO was born in Miami where his parents met and married in the early 60s after fleeing the Castro regime in Havana. As a young boy, Malo and his younger sister were exposed to music from Cuban pop and jazz to American rock and roll.....Since the early 90s, Malo and his wife, Betty, have lived in Nashville with their three sons....
ANOTHER anticipated 2012 CD arrives Jan. 12. The Little Willies, a New York City-based quintet featuring vocalist Norah Jones, have put the finishing touches on "For The Good Times," primarily a covers' disc featuring songs penned by the likes of Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton and others.
Joining Jones are fellow Willies, Lee Alexander (bass), Jim Campilongo (guitar), Richard Jillian (guitar, vocals), and Dan Rieser (drums).
The band's self-titled debut landed on the Lane's top 10 record list for 2006.....
Gibson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org