FARGO — The Mavericks are celebrating the group’s 30th anniversary, which means 30 years of people asking the band to define its sound.
The band is often labeled a country group on the basis of its breakout 1994 single, “What a Crying Shame,” that merged the Bakersfield, Calif., twang with Roy Orbison-like vocals. Raul Malo’s big voice would also cross seamlessly cross over to jazz, Latin, Tejano and rock with hits like "All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down" and "Dance the Night Away."
A member of the group since 2003, guitarist Eddie Perez has perhaps the best answer to the age-old question.
“I think The Mavericks are just The Mavericks,” he says. “I say we make joyous music.”
Perez, Malo and the rest of the group bring its joyful noise to the Fargo Theatre this Thursday night, Oct. 10.
They have a lot to be happy about. Not only is the group marking 30 years, it’s celebrating its most productive stretch — releasing its fifth album in the last six years, with another one set for a 2020 release.
Things didn’t always come so easy for the band. Before landing on the radio, the group would occasionally share bills in its native Miami with fellow emerging artist, Marilyn Manson.
That was before Perez joined, but the more things change, the more they stay the same, he says. He recalls playing a state fair recently that was an opening slot for Ice Cube.
“That’s a different one,” he says with a laugh.
Different, but not the most unreal. That was shortly after he came on in 2003 and the group opened for Shania Twain, then at the top of her pop/country career.
“Obviously my mind was blown, but it was blown even further by the fact that right after we were done, Shania Twain flew in via helicopter, right up to the stage already dressed and ready to go. That was pretty impressive,” Perez says.
The guitarist was playing roots rock music in California in the early 1990s when The Mavericks started hitting the radio, and once he heard “There Goes My Heart,” he became a fan.
“The Mavericks spoke to that whole (rockabilly)scene, there’s a lot of nostalgia in it. There was a great neo-traditional sound with what they were doing with country music, but with a new twist, a kind of punk, rock ‘n’ roll attitude,” he says. “They had a different vibe than anybody else.”
He joined the band after it had taken a few years off following 1998’s “Trampoline.” The reformation was short-lived, though, and after just a year and a half, the group had disbanded.
Perez said the split so soon after he joined was frustrating.
“It was like people gave me the keys to a really nice sports car, and I get in the car and there’s no gas,” he says.
He stayed busy, playing guitar for Dwight Yoakam, Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, Gary Allan and others.
The group reformed again in 2012, and Perez says they’ve kept a foot on the accelerator ever since.
“When you look at us today and some of the music we’re putting out there, it’s amazing how all of the music we’ve done over 30 years fits into what we’re doing now,” he says.
The group will release a new CD, “The Mavericks Play the Hits,” in November featuring covers of tunes that have been influences over the years. The first singles off the new album are The Mavericks’ takes on John Anderson’s “Swingin’” and Freddie Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.”
Malo, a first-generation Cuban American, has said how much of an impact that song made on him when he heard Spanish sung on Miami’s pop radio in 1975. Growing up in California, Perez had a similar experience, hearing it on the radio and when his Mexican-American family sang it at parties.
“It was very profound,” Perez says. “Even in a child’s mind, I knew that what Freddie Fender was doing was important, because here was a Latino on a mainstream stage, doing this music that people loved and accepted and, in turn, they accepted him. Freddy Fender broke down a lot of barriers for us Latino guys. He certainly made it seem like it could be possible. It’s really cool to have a moment and a platform to give thanks in our way to his contribution.”
The group will keep paying respect to its Latin roots with a new album in 2020 sung entirely in Spanish.
With all of the members now in their 50s, Perez says the group is at its creative peak.
“These are the best times of our lives,” he says. “We’re all buzzing from a bit of momentum we seem to have now.”
The band is taking that energy and putting it right back into the crowd every night on stage.
“As long as people keep wanting to listen to the music we have to play and want to come to the shows and have a good time with us, we’ll keep doing it,” he says. “People come out for a really great show and a dance party, beginning to end. Wear some really comfortable clothes and shoes.”
If you go
What: The Mavericks
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10
Where: The Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway
Info: Tickets are $57.50, plus fees; 866-300-8300