Mainstream country in the early ’90s was still a safe place for a fiddle and steel guitar. “Hat act” traditionalists like Clint Black and Alan Jackson topped the charts, but Nashville still made room for outsiders like Foster & Lloyd, Hal Ketchum and the Mavericks, an upstart band from Miami.
The Mavericks scored a few country-radio hits before veering left in the late ’90s, when Raul Maul transformed the band into a flamboyant hybrid of Latin, rockabilly, swing-dance music.
Today’s Top 40 country sounds nothing like it’s ever sounded before. This morning I listened to an interview with Sunny Sweeney, a country traditionalist who is “too country” for Nashville. Her songs, the interviewer said, are a glimpse of what mainstream country “could” sound like, and Music Row could still look itself in the mirror.
The same is true of the early Mavericks and others who have been relegated to Nashville’s cutout bins.