The Johnny Max Band
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The Johnny Max Band

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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"It's A Long Road, John Vermilyea"

2010 is shaping up as a good year for the Johnny Max Band. Johnny has got himself a brand new band, for which now garners 3 Maple Blues Nominations for the following awards, Entertainer of the Year, Drummer of the Year - Vince Maccarone, and Horn Player of the Year - Johnny Johnson. He also has a great new album out called "It's A Long Road", which takes off from his last award winning album, "A Lesson I've Learned", without missing a beat.



"It's A Long Road" consists of 12 tracks, all originals and all written as a group effort by 5 members of the Band and as with previous releases Johnny Max stays with a tried and true formula that is both unique and extremely enjoyable to listen to. Johnny Max believes that the blues is the blues, regardless of how you mix all the styles together and instead of just doing one style, he offers us a well rounded potpourri of sounds, beautifully and texturally overlayed with his awesome big brass section, masterfully arranged courtesy of Johnny Johnson.



"It's A Long Road" is the fourth Album by Johnny Max and it plays out just the way he likes it, and that is by way of a fun upbeat musical journey, interlaced with Rockin', Soulful, Boogie, and Beyond Blues. I happened to find a bit of this album to be reminiscent of the Chicago Blues Reunion.



"It's A Long Road" starts out with the tickling of the ivories courtesy of Jesse O'Brien, whom also plays Wurlitzer and Organ on this release. After a few seconds the Brass Section kicks in and we best be strapped in good, cause the show is beginning with a bang courtesy of this Rockin' Boogie Blues Number.



The rest of the album peaks our interest with the Johnny Max Band delivering about half truly awesome soul and half straight ahead Brassy Rockin' Boogie Blues, for which Johnny Max not only shows off his steller vocal chords but also the bands unique and creative writing skills. For "It's A Long Road", Johnny Max not only used himself to his limit, but also his band, pulling out all the stops and giving us a nonstop thrill ride via his fun and entertaining method of delivering the message of the blues.



With "It's A Long Road", the Johnny Max Band have certainly not decided to rest on their laurels and in essence have once again shown us how Rockin Soulful Boogie Blues is suppose to sound and I must say I certainly agree with that.



"It's A Long Road" will surely please fans of the Johnny Max Band, and it is also going to attract a lot more new fans to this excellent band as well.



"It's A Long Road" gets my highest rating of 5 Stars... Highly Recommended and Thoroughly Enjoyable...

- Blues Underground


"It's A Long Road, John Valenteyn"

The progression of the Johnny Max Band’s albums has been quite remarkable. The lineup behind him changes while the trajectory continues upward. The band here gets full co-credits on production and songwriting, so, behind the bandleader are: Vince Maccarone on drums, Wayne Deadder on bass, John Findlay on guitar and Jesse O’Brien on keyboards. There’s a fine horn section, background singers and a percussionist to round out this ambitious effort. This ensemble has taken Johnny Max’s trademark rocking soul blues to another level altogether. The opening “Daddy’s Little Girl” has my vote for the A side of the first single. It’s a powerful rocker with a New Orleans flavour about the high cost of love. Johnny’s vocal is spot on, with sterling piano, slide guitar and wonderful horns. Johnny’s comments during the trumpet & trombone solos are a treat. He could do more of that, unleashing his wicked sense of humour. Many other songs here are almost as good: “One Day”, especially. “She Don’t Love Me Anymore” adds a bluesy change of pace as does the faster “Too Many Fish”. A couple of them have a little more to say, with “Song Of New York ”, credited to Wayne Deadder alone, being a biting commentary about a visit to that city. “It’s A Long Road” may not fill the dance floor either but it is a highly listenable piece of advice. The concluding, somewhat longer “You Tell Me” continues in the same vein of social commentary, providing the band members with ample opportunity for imaginative contributions. These aren’t the kind of songs that one associates with Johnny and he handles the new vocal demands very well indeed. Full marks throughout to the arrangements, and to tenorman Johnny Johnson for the horn charts. Go to www.johnnymaxband.com to find out the latest news and to get your copy if you can’t get to the live show.

- Maple Blues Magazine


"It's A Long Road, James Doran"

Anyone who has ever seen Johnny Max perform LIVE knows what a superb singer and consummate entertainer he is. Some artists just have a special “feel” for a song and Johnny is one of them. And he always has a lot of FUN on stage - playing with the audience, telling jokes, doing killer impersonations (his Sean Connery is classic) and spinning short stories between tunes. It’s a highly infectious combo. The audience loves it and the dance floor is always packed. You can’t NOT have a good time at a JMB Show!



Over the 10+ years that Johnny has been performing from his base in Mississauga (Toronto) there have been major changes in his band members yet his sound has stayed consistent. A rich and varied repertoire - Motown Soul and R&B, straight up Blues, Blues with a Rock ‘n Roll edge, Swing tunes, smoky Jazzy ballads - all good! The man is also a terrific songwriter IMOH and this talent often gets overlooked I think. I love the lyrics in his songs - classic, ironic, unique, thoughtful and funny! Listening to a Johnny Max album always puts a smile on my face.



“It’s A Long Road” is Johnny’s 5th CD and just as I said when I reviewed his last one for OBScene (“A Lesson I’ve Learned” in 2007) - I think this is his best one yet. He just keeps raising the bar. What higher compliment can you give an artist than that? The band on this album is completely different from his last one and although he always has talented players with him this group works especially well together - as smooth as a dyna-glide transmission: Johnny on vocals, Vince Maccarone on drums, Wayne Deadder on bass and background vocals, John Findlay on guitar and background vocals and Jesse O’Brien on keyboards. There’s also an outstanding horn section on a number of songs led by Johnny Johnson on sax (who also does all the horn arrangements), Steve Crowe on trumpet, Kevin Turcotte on trumpet and Gord Myers on trombone.



All 12 songs on “It’s A Long Road” are originals and every member of the band has contributed to the songwriting and production - a truly collaborative effort. The album was recorded at one of the best studios in the country, Metal Works in Toronto. I give the finished product an A+: crisp, clear, clean and very smooth!



There are 12 songs on “It’s A Long Road” and I like ‘em all so it’s hard to pick favourites but I particularly enjoy:



“She Don’t Love Me Anymore” - humourous lyrics and a nice “swing” groove to it. Very nice background piano by Jesse too.

“Too Many Fish” - a hard drivin’, rockin’ Blues number and more excellent lyrics.

The title song from the album - “It’s A Long Road” - a beautiful ballad with more great lyrics and a lovely loping gait to it.

“Waiting On You” - a powerful R&B tune with a rock solid groove and a BIG sound from the fine background chorus and horn section. Nice guitar work by John Findlay too.



This CD came out just prior to the cut-off date for consideration for the 2011 Maple Blues Awards which is really too bad. If more of the Nominators had heard it I’m sure it would have been one of the top five for Recording Of The Year. It certainly was on my list. Maybe it’ll catch the Junos this year. I certainly think it deserves to be there.



I know “it’s a long road” Johnny but please stay on it and keep playing those great Blues of yours. One day I believe you will get the proper recognition you deserve - that is that you are one of Canada’s best Blues bands, period.



Buy this CD! 5 out of 5 stars.

- Ottawa Blues Society Scene Magazine


"The Gentleman Known as Johnny Max"

Cashbox Magazine Canada - James Lizzard



The gentleman known as Johnny Max is Canada’s best-loved blues chameleon. He plays it out fronting the Johnny Max Band, an ever-changing who’s who of bluesy sidemen, united in the service of the song.

On this album though, there are signs this particular line-up may be in for the long U-Haul. For one big thing, the band gets full co-credits on production and songwriting, so behind the bandleader are: Vince Maccarone on drums, Wayne Deadder on bass, John Findlay on guitar and Jesse O’Brien on keyboards. For added colour, throw in a four-piece brass section, a backing vocalist and additional percussion and the whole thing cooks with a decidedly N’Awlins gumbo feel.

Right from the get go, the rolling barrelhouse piano lines O’Brien deploys on ‘Daddy’s Little Girl” lets you know how it’s gonna be. The swamp blues vibe hangs like Spanish moss on 'Too Many Fish' and 'One Day’ flexes the hard muscle beneath the slow grind.

Elsewhere, a soulful r’n’b sound, ably abetted by Hammond-esque keyboard riffs from O’Brien is the other side of this coin, best paid out on 'Heading Back To You', underpinned by tasty country/soul guitar lines that wouldn’t be out of place on a Holmes Brothers album. The blues gets even more countrified on the epic ‘Song Of New York’, a wry tale in which the Apple treats our man less than kindly.

To demonstrate their musical dexterity, the band turns its attention from that tasteful setup to the swampy raunch’n’roll of ‘Too Many Fish’, then it’s off to get all bayou funky riding the baritone sax on the ensemble standout ‘I’m In Trouble’.

Can’t say there are no generic moments here but they’re left in the dust by the more than generous and tasty helpings of hooky boogie blues.
Tell ya, Johnny Max be wise to hustle hard to keep this crew together. Heck, even the horn section, officially not part of the band, made contributions that were essential to certain tunes. This is not lost on Johnny, who gives full credit to saxman Johnny Johnson for the horn charts.

Perhaps the most interesting development here is that of Johnny Max as social commentator, working with lyrics that dig deeper into the musician’s life (“It’s A Long Road), urban disaffection (‘Song Of New York’) and yer basic existential angst (‘You Tell Me’).

This one leans a little less on the rock but it sure do stroll a mean groove all the way to many Blues Album of the Year lists.

- Cashbox Magazine


"Real Blues Magazine"

JOHNNY MAX BAND: RIDE AND ROLL

(POUR SOUL RECORDS)

I know that it’s still early 2005, but I’ve just listened to what could be the Best Canadian Blues CD of the year and all other homegrown talent will have a real task to match this disc let alone attempt to surpass it. The Johnny Max Band is truly West End Toronto’s (Etobicoke/Mississauga) Blue Collar Blues Crew, an outfit that plays for the patrons and delivers what most of us really want from a Blues Band: the ability to make you forget your boss, your money troubles, wife/husband turmoil and all stresses one needs to jettison, at least on a Friday or Saturday night. Hound Dog Taylor, I believe, said, “Have some fun, ‘cause when you’re dead, you’re done” and that could be this band’s motto as well.

I’ve heard and praised Max’s previous 2 CDs and they have always been in the Top 10 of Annual Best Canadian Blues CDs for their ability to convey HONEST, blue-collar, goodtime Blues and the band is blessed with a couple of stellar talents: Johnny can really sing and Kevin Higgins is the kind of guitarist that may not be a household name, but to other guitarists he’s The Man (no wasted notes, no histrionics, knows EXACTLY what to deliver and he’s a Team Player). With Martin Aucoin, who may be the Best Pianist in Eastern Canada, Uli Bohnet (bass) and Duncan McBain (drums) providing a tremendously solid foundation, this band has to feel like DeNiro (“You talkin’ to me?”) and should be one of the Best Live bands in all of the country.

The big difference with “Ride and Roll” is Alec Fraser who has become the Producer of Choice for authentic Blues sounds and the studio he uses, Liquid, has given so much of an edge to all who recorded there. So, while the spirit may have been there in the past (on their previous CDs), we now have a Producer who knows his stuff and has that all important outside view of the Band and a world-class studio that can make a band sound like they’ve spent mega dollars.

Starting off with a ‘thumper’, “Please Don’t Go” (an original tune), the band sets the pace and the identity of the disc (so important!): a tough, gritty, True Blues outing replete with nasty guitar and vocals, rippling piano and rock solid bass/drums. Excellent! Now the listener is thinking, “Hey, I hope there’s more of the same” and yes, indeed, there certainly is. “Brown’s Line”, Track #2, is a boisterous, barroom Blues gem with a great chorus that all of us ex-West Enders get immediately (I feel guilty that I haven’t acknowledged drummer McBain’s skills in previous Awards issues). “Brown’s Line” is as good a Canuck Blues tune that I’ve heard. “Ride and Roll” is a tour de force raging rocker that will probably instigate broken chairs, bottles against the wall, etc. if played at 1:55 a.m. on a Friday night. It also is Mr. Higgins’ crowning achievement (from what I’ve heard so far, at least) as guitar slinger with a solo that would have Johnny Winter and Matt Murphy grinning. Other highlights include “Watcha Gonna Do” (major crossover potential), the lowdown “I Heard A Rumour, “Mad At Me” with Marty’s heavy left hand rollin’ (Shag hit potential), the grinding, belly rubbing “Shake ‘Em On Down” and the excellent lyrics (shop this tune around) of “I Like Women”.

So, we have an excellent album (their best) from a great band and it will please all of the Johnny Max Band’s fans enormously plus bring aboard many thousands more who dig The Real Thing. The crossover potential is enormous, so let’s hope this band gets the ‘greases’ that they deserve. Our astute listeners in Europe will dig it for the talent/energy while the Beach Music fans in the Carolinas will have at least 3 great Shag tunes. 5 sweaty bottles for an excellent, honest Blues album. …Andy Grigg (Real Blues)

- Andy Grigg


"Bear Claw's Blues Picks"

Johnny Max Band "Ride and Roll" Poor Soul Records 2005, Produced by Alec Fraser. I read a little piece recently by music critic Larry Lablanc where he said that the blues had ceased to be solely an African American music form, that there is also a distinct Urban Canadian blues form. If you want to know what it sounds like, check out Johnny Max Band's new release. Johnny's snarling vocal and Kevin Higgins' crunchy Fender guitar team up here to roll the listener on a hard drive through 13 tracks that keep you ever breathless for the next turn, the next hook. B3 player Martin Aucoin knows just where to drop a delicious lick or raise up a soul-searing oceanic wave, while bassist Uli Bohnet and drummer Duncan McBain stay right in the pocket all through the set, squarely where a good blues rhythm section thrives. My favourite tunes are "Please Don't Go" "Brown's Line" and "Angel of Mercy," but this is one cd that stays in my car player everytime I go out on the Trans Canada Highway. Contact: johnnymaxband@rogers,com or purchase cds through www.cdbaby.com
- Bob Bearclough


"Roots Music Report"

Johnny Max Band


CD: Ride And Roll
Label: Pour Soul
Rating:
Genre: Roots Blues





J

Ride And Roll is a perfect title for this new release. This band definitely takes the listener on a ride of blues with a bit of rock and roll flavor. Every song tells it like it is. Direct and to the point. Johnny Max is the real deal. This band is a group of guys that are utilizing their extraordinary talents to make truly fantastic music. From slow heartfelt ballads to driving tunes. The Johnny Max band delivers it all with a forceful passion for their music.


- Robert Bartosh


"Johnny Max Band "Ride and Roll""

Featured Artist: Johnny Max Band

CD Title: Ride and Roll

Year: 2005

Record Label: Pour Soul Records # JMB0022

Style: Blues

Musicians: Johnny Max (lead vocals; harp); Kevin Higgins (lead/slide guitar); Uli Bohnet (all basses); Duncan McBain (drums); Martin Aucoin (piano, organ and backing vocals); Alec Fraser (backing vocals and ‘canneryisms’)

Review:
The Johnny Max Band recently came out with their third great CD Ride and Roll. It’s one of those rare musical finds that can grab the listener right off the bat, due to its intense energy and captivating delivery. This is in part due to Johnny Max himself. His vocals are rousing and filled with determination. The Johnny Max Band knows well how to entertain and get the soul rollin’ ‘n’ rockin’. They also know how to keep the listener in that higher emotional state.

The Johnny Max Band consists of Johnny Max on lead vocals; Kevin Higgins on lead/slide guitar; Uli Bohnet on all basses; Duncan McBain on drums; Martin Aucoin on piano, organ and backing vocals; along with Alec Fraser on backing vocals and ‘canneryisms’ (whatever that is). Fraser produced and recorded this fine blues CD at his award-winning Liquid Toronto recording studio.

The first tune on this explosively enjoyable CD is “(Baby) Please Don’t Go.” This is one of the best upbeat party tunes around. It’s one of those rare songs that can get you going anytime of the day or night. The title tune, “Ride and Roll” is one of the rockinest rockabilly tunes around. It’s followed by “Angel of Mercy” - a deep, jazz influenced slow blues, that can touch the soul and emotions. Max’s vocals reflect suffering in their intensity, and are reinforced by Higgins’ hauntingly melodic guitar soloing. “Walkin’ In Jerusalem” features Higgins’ bluesy slide solo, leading into Max’s soulful vocals, ending in more of Higgins captivating slide guitar that seems to speak the lyrics. This is followed by “Long Gone Train”, which possesses long gone soul from a long gone time.

The pace picks up considerably with “Mad At Me.” This is a rockin’ and rollin’ dance tune that’s upbeat all the way! Max’s vocals and Higgins’ guitar solo are energizing, as are McBain’s drumming and Aucoin’s piano solo. They’re well supported by Bohnet’s steady, rollin’ bass backbeat and the whole rhythm section echoing back “She’s mad at me” to Max’s lead vocals, in perfect call and response fashion.

Just when you think you’ve heard all the blues you need for your musical dollar, along comes the mesmerizing “Shake ‘Em All Down.” Higgins’ heavy, slow guitar rhythm and ‘honeybee’-style slide playing helps Max’s intoxicating vocals hit the bluesy bullseye. This song is absolutely superb and faultless. Its hard driving intensity is added to with McBain’s consistent, steady drumming.

Aucoin’s B-3 riffs are the soulful intro to “Mimico Bus.” This is an easy feat for Aucoin’s who’s spent many happy years in soul/R&B band The Lincolns, featuring renowned bassist Prakash John, (ex-Alice Cooper/Lou Reed;currently in Blues Angels). Max’s vocals are upbeat all the way in this fast-paced soul excursion.

The classic “Junko Partner” slows things down, Louisiana bayou style. In this rendition Max’s vocals seem to be from a bygone era that’s happily come back. The arrangement is faithful to versions recorded decades ago, yet still retains Max’s own distinct way of putting a song across. The atmosphere in this tune exudes images of snapping gators and crawfish cookin’ over an open fire. Higgins’ mouthwatering slide playing reinforces this imagery, along with more of McBain’s invigorating drumming and Bohnet’s bass lines.

“I Like Women” is an upbeat, soul/R&B tune, which holds a surprise for the listener part way through. Although supposedly the finale to this great CD, three minutes into it, “Women” fades into a slow, hand-clapping vocal solo by Max. He sings some gospel-influenced ‘church blues’ at this point, sounding much like an old southern blues man on his porch in the U.S. deep south, singing out his soul to ‘beat the devil’. On another level, this captivating, early gospel-influenced blues style explains why Max is so good at what he does best - being a blues singer. In this finale, he’s able to go back to the original blues sung by the blacks toiling away on the plantations with no end in sight - just more hard work and singin’ away dem ol’ blues.

Johnny Max’s vocal solo finale on Ride and Roll, sounds much like the originators might have sung it a century ago or more ago. Max comes across this way in his vocal delivery, because he’s in tune with the real blues, and knows how to express it well! Not to mention his talent at being able to pick an impeccable rhythm section of pros who really know their stuff and have paid their dues. This is the reason why the Johnny Max Band’s latest CD, Ride and Roll, is a must-listen-to and must-have to own and enjoy. The Johnny Max Band is also a mu - Jazz Review


"Slipping Out of Darkness"

Right off the press! Read the first review on Friday (Jan. 16) night's unofficial opening to the Blues Summit IV.

The gig was on. Despite a good portion of Toronto being thrown into an icy cold darkness by a 2-days-and-counting power outage, Johnny Max's kick-start to the this weekend's Blues Summit at the Trane Studio was a "Go".

Driving south on Bathurst, I passed Dupont to realize that everything south was cast in total blackness. With no light save the approaching headlights, I found my way to a locked door and a sign on the window stating that the show had moved two blocks north to Mayday Malone's. I arrived to see Johnny and his crew feverishly setting up in a room so cold you could still see your breath. As fans and blues lovers stole out of the darkness and into the fully-lit locale, the venue began to warm up - although sales of hot chocolate over cold beer might have proved the answer.

As Johnny apologized for the power outage beyond his control, his powerful band kicked into high gear and all eyes and ears were focused on the very reason why they'd come in from the cold on this freezing Friday night. The combination of Teddy Leonard, drummer Vince Maccarone and bassist, Uli Bohnet, were just the ticket the crowd needed to transform the ambience from one of an ice fishing hut into that of an intimate, sultry soul revue. Johnny's mix of rockin' soul blues - driven by its crack rhythm section and taken over the top by Leonard's note-perfect leads - was in top form as the band showcased tracks from A Lesson I've Learned, notably the "compulsory ballad", "Write Your Name".

In no time, the band had worked up a sweat and the crowd was loving the lesson being learned - and masterfully taught - by seasoned veterans with a perfect set of crowd-pleasers. Paul Reddick took advantage of the pre-heated room with a band's band that borrowed Teddy Leonard, added David Baxter on guitar, Gary Craig on drums, Jack Dymond on bass and Paul on lead vocals, harp, maracas and choreography. With a bit of a slow start, Paul gradually brought on his best game - but not before, visibly delighting in the band that surrounded him with dynamic sound. The audience realized that this was something special - the combination of Baxter and Leonard lifting Paul's Sugar Bird-based songlist (primarily from Song Bird) beyond anyone's wildest dreams - a lethal team, with Paul's longtime rhythm section turning on a well-rehearsed dime. This coaxed Paul into a passionate performance that dug deep and reminded the room what a powerful poet can do with his unique blend of roots, rock, blues and all shades in-between. It was one of those nights where people just didn't want to go home - and it had nothing to do with it being so cold outside.
A great way to start the Summit was shared by everyone in the room.
Eric Thom

- Eric Thom, Canadianblues .ca


"A Lesson I've Learned"

A LESSON I'VE LEARNED

Usually when I get a CD, it finds it's way to my player at least a couple of times, then it goes away for awhile, sometimes a little while, sometimes a long while. With the new Johnny Max Band CD, "A Lesson I've Learned", I have played it over half a dozen times now and I just don't see myself putting it away anytime soon. It is my first introduction to the Johnny Max Band music and I simply love it.

All the tracks on "A Lesson I've Learned", are a lot of fun to listen to, especially out at the BBQ with a bunch of your Rockin' Blues Lovin' friends, and by the way, make sure you know where the pause button is, because you are not going to want to miss anything on this CD.

Besides the Johnny Max Band's amazing instrumental talents, what really hooked me is the voice of Johnny Max himself. It's got that addictive almost gravely texture to it, that reminds me a lot of one of my favorite blues artists, Watermelon Slim.

"A Lesson I've Learned" was and still is a complete joy to listen to, especially with others whom are hearing it for the first time. Their are a lot of great tracks on this CD, but the ones that I like the most are, A Lesson I've Learned, Down In History, We're Going To Do It (All Night Long), Going Down Standing Up, and When I Sing The Blues...

For those of you whom are not familiar with the Johnny Max Band, what are you waiting for? For those of you whom are, "A Lesson I've Learned" will not disappoint.

The Johnny Max Band has paid it's dues and is sending the lessons they have learned to all their loyal fans.

- John Vermilyea, Blues Underground Network


"A Lesson I've Learned"

JOHNNY MAX BAND
A Lesson I've Learned
Pour Soul
This very entertaining musical interlude is brought to you by Johnny and the boys all the way from South Ontario, Canada, a sometimes unfairly under-rated and untapped musical goldmine, though the recent slew of blues from the Dominion proves that there is a rich vein of (blue) musical talent there. Ranging from rip-roaring swashbuckling, soulful R'n'B guitar to moochingly sleazy New Orleans piano led blues, what more could you want? What more do you need? Whether slow, fast or meandering, Johnny's rough-edged, sleepy soul-filled voice rallies his troops on to and into the groove. We are not, thankfully, going to some inane boogie
wonderland but we are certainly experiencing some very exciting no-nonsense original music. Here we have thirteen tuneful
attention-grabbers, no brash, here one minute/ gone the next fireworks, but simply subtle, deftly played foot-tapping, indoor carpet sliding fun in southern US style, a little warm Texas thunder, a little solid Memphis groove, and some blue, blue songs. The band credit is deserved as keyboards, guitar and rhythm section all play their part in providing us with this aural pleasure. Well worth a listen or two!

Brian Harman

Blues Matters

- Brian Harman, Blues Matters


"A Lesson I've Learned"

from rootstime.be

This Canadian band from south Ontario has just finished its fourth CD. They bring blues and roots music loaded with first class influences that on top of that are brought with much energy (spirit). One of their ingredients is in their sound of the New Orleans Memphis style, but a slug of rock and a still larger part of the blues makes the mix complete. Johnny Max is an extremely strong singer who has earned the nickname of Motion Machine on the podium of many festivals. Another important member is guitar player Ted Leonard, but more about him later. Drummer Duncan McBain, base player Bruce Longman and key man Martin Alex Aucoin, (who for the largest part made the compositions), make this excellent band complete.

The CD starts right away rather strongly with "Down in History", a number that opens with Keith Richards guitar sounds of Ted Leonard, while Johnny Max, with his Delbert McClinton-like song style and voice make you perk up your ears. In the next number, "Banks of the Credit", that is possibly even stronger, we get the Stones meet Little Feat and The Band, in which Ted Leonard sounds like Keith Richards and in the next moment he seemingly easily produces unique slight guitar sounds of Lowell George, while Johnny’s voice calls up memories of the top days of The Band. And so one strong number after another.

The total disc has a high McClinton content, to say it shortly, while a number of songs carry the stamp of the sound of The Band (among others, "A Lesson I’ve Learned"). "Write Your Name" is again in the best of Ray Charles tradition. Pianist songwriter Aucoin shows himself a worthy follower of Professor Longhair and Doctor John in "It’s Not My Fault". In "Greezin" is the combination Stax/Muscle Shoals perfectly determined coming to a splendid instrumental. The cover "Have Mercy" by Don Covey and "Why I sing The Blues" by B.B. King get beautiful arrangements so that they are not less than the original versions. Even a countown rhyme like "Jack and Jill" reconstructed to a steaming New Orleans shuffle is no problem for the Johnny Max Band. In short, this is an excellent disc of a good band that regrettably I have only just discovered, and that I have to admit with shame on my face. But better late than never. Nobody is perfect, although ..... Johnny Max?

- Rootstime


"Johnny Max Band - A Lesson I've Learned"

Johnny Max Band
A Lesson I’ve Learned
By David Barnard

In the past ten years, Canada has produced some of the best new blues recordings anywhere. Think Jim Byrnes, Sue Foley, Paul Reddick, Harrison Kennedy and Julian Fauth, to name but a few. This high standard of competition is helping to raise the bar and bring the best out in people. Judging by the new release from Port Credit’s Johnny Max, he’s ready to join the cream of the crop. Max is an expressive vocalist, someone who back in the day would’ve been called a “shouter.” He inhabits a song’s storyline, imbuing it with a strong dose of irony and a knowing “been there, done that” tone. Over 13 songs, including 11 originals written primarily by Max and keyboardist Martin Alex Aucoin, he sings of mistakes made, dreams and lies, obsessions and living in the Mississauga Delta, in case you were wondering where Port Credit is. The band, comprised of Aucoin, guitarist Teddy Leonard, bassist Garth Vogan and Duncan McBain on drums, are a supple, well oiled unit that enlivens every arrangement, whether it’s the Memphis fatback soul of “It’s Not My Fault,” the rocking ’60s R&B of “Going Down, Standing Up” or the New Orleans style funk of “Banks of the Credit,” featuring searing slide guitar and a lovely gospel piano bridge. Aucoin wins MVP, consistently adding excitement to each song, such as on the title track, a burbling Southern soul number where his combined B3 and Wurlitzer beautifully support Max’s wry lyrics and subdued vocal delivery. (Pour Soul)

- David Barnard, Exclaim Magazine


"Johnny Max Band - A Lesson I've Learned"

JOHNNY MAX BAND - A Lesson I’ve Learned

Pour Soul Record

An album that is totally convincing from the first riff of the opener, “Down in History” to the last note of the closer, “Why I Sing the

Blues”. At home with R n B, some Rock numbers, some Funk (“It’s Not My Fault”) and Soul (“Have Mercy”), the band from Toronto delivers another sparkling performance with this, its fourth album. Dynamic, compelling, with strong, lightly raw vocals by Johnny Max, pearly keyboard work by Martin Alex Aucoin, captivating guitar work by Teddy Leonard, and a powerful carpet of rhythm delivered by Garth Vogan on base and Duncan McBain on the [translator’ note: the line(s) after this is/are cut off].

…”Down in History” will settle irresistibly in your aural passages and “Banks of the Credit” could have originated from the pen of the Stones or of John Hiatt. Greetings from Delbert McClinton, on the other hand, are delivered by the title song. Along with the indubitable expertise of the musician, we are seduced by the song-writer duo of Max/Aucoin; they give us terrific songs and perfect arrangements. The cherry on top is provided by the inspired singing of Johnny Max, which assures the group its high return value. Never mind where the digital detector gets on board: you are guaranteed a good time! This contender for Album of the Year is going to be hard to beat.

Dietmar Hoscher
CONCERTO Magazine
Austria

http://hoscherscoloursofblues.com
http://www.concerto.at

- Concerto Magazine


Discography

Long Gone Train(2000)
In the Doghouse...Again(2002)
Dancing in the Street..Southside Shuffle compilation(2004)
Ride and Roll(2005)
Toronto Blues Society 20years-compilation(2005)
A Lesson I've Learned (2007)
It's A Long Road (2010)

Photos

Bio

To listen to Johnny Max tell it, and to watch Johnny Max present it, you understand very quickly that there’s more to creating great music than simply performing a first-rate piece of music well. It’s much more all encompassing than that.

Max’s take includes engaging the audience, making his show accessible. He wants to more than simply feed off the audience, he looks to make them part of the experience. And he does so with his good natured wit.

Using humour to get your point across is always risky because there’s a fine line between entertaining and being the comic. To his credit Johnny Max knows how to tread that line because the music always comes first.

Max’s music doesn’t always follow conventional Blues lines. Rather than be confined to the traditional 12 bar influenced forms, this veteran of the musical wars favours substance rather than convention.

While his first three releases firmly established Max in the Blues idiom, it was on his fourth, the Juno nominated A Lesson I’ve Learned, that Johnny added to his Blues sensibilities, and found his groove. And that groove had more to do with Southern Soul than straight up Blues. Of note, check the title track whose chorus might have been lifted from the Dan Penn songbook.

Max’s new disc, It’s A Long Road, picks up where “Lesson” left off – with a wallop! Partnering with a brand new band, Johnny lays down a dozen tracks with a heavy dosage of Gumbo R&B, nods to Rock’em Sock’em Soul, and hints of all-out Boogie work-outs and Tom Waits styled tonalities. Along the way, Johnny relates his most deeply personal stories to date.

You would think that all of the above would be enough to keep anyone busy but Max also finds time to host a radio show: (“Sunday Morning Soul” on The HAZE FM, www.thehazefm.ca, Canada’s only commercial web radio station Sunday mornings at 11AM and Wednesdays at 10PM.), and co-program the CNE Bandshell BluesFest, (with Rico Ferrara), among other ventures.

It’s all in days work for Max. And he and his fans wouldn’t have it any other way.