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Johnny Max Band - It’s a Long Road

Poor Soul Records

Sometimes Canada is portrayed as a rather boring country, filled with hard and taciturn men, lumberjacks and loggers (“Nobody but a logger stirs his coffee with his thumb” as the old folk song has it), as well as wolves and fugitive Americans. That, of course, is more that just a tad unfair. No country, save one that is filled with vibrant, adventurous and talented people, could possibly have the blues scene that exists in contemporary Canada; a hotbed of blues music, with a mass of talented musicians the likes of Sue Foley, Matt Andersen, Jimmy Bowskill, Monkey Junk and the late Jeff Healey (to mention only a few – the list could be at least twice as long). Right up there with the top guys is The Johnny Max Band.

Johnny is a nominee for Entertainer of the Year in the 2011 Maple Blues Awards taking place at Koerner Hall on January 17th in Toronto and two of the band members are also nominated (Vince Maccarone dms and Johnny Johnson, horn).

Here, with the rest of the band (Wayne Deadder - bass, guitar, bg vocals, John Findlay - guitar, bg vocals, Jesse O'Brien - piano, wurlitzer, organ) Max produces a stormin’ set with powerful vocal parts, filled out with a BIG horn section and some excellent musicianship. Jesse O’Brian gives us some super keyboard licks on the opener ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’, while the horn section comes to the fore on ‘Heading Back To You’. “Too Many Fish” is a driving stomping blues with super lyrics.

There is a nice variation in the songs chosen and the sequencing shows them off to a Tee. I repeat again, the horn section is terrific!

This CD, one of my top picks for 2010, is perfect for any and all of you who enjoy riff driven, funky, gumbo flavoured r&b, with more than a hint of boogie-woogie and it comes strongly recommended..

Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

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