Someone takes notice...


2012 The Mississauga Arts Council (MARTY) Award for Established Artist of The Year 

3 Maple Blues Award Nominations for the Johnny Max Band - It's A Long Road

2010 Entertainer of The Year - Johnny Max Band

2010 Drummer of the Year – Vince Maccarone

2010 Horn Player of The Year – Johnny Johnson


3 Maple Blues Award Nominations for the Johnny Max Band - A Lesson I've Learned

2007 Recording of the Year - A Lesson I've Learned

2007 Songwriter of the Year - Martin Alex Aucoin & Johnny Max

2007 Electric Act of the Year - Johnny Max Band

"A Lesson I've Learned" The Blind Lemon Top Twenty Canadian Blues Albums of 2007 ...#4 ...CHMR Radio

Johnny Max Band "A Lesson I've Learned" top 100 CD (#18) August 2007...Real Blues Magazine

Johnny Max Band "Ride & Roll" top 100 CD (#27) issue #30...Real Blues Magazine
Kevin Higgins Top Canadian Guitarist..#2....Real Blues Magazine
The Johnny Max Band...Best Live Act/Central Canada...Real Blues Magazine
Top Ten Canadian Blues Releases of 2005.. #5...Livin
Top Ten Canadian CD 2005 #4..Terry Parsons, DJ Blind Lemon Blues, CHMR 93.5FM,NFLD


Quick Links



About "Roadhouse Soul"

“A cool release… with a bit of swagger.”  BMans Blues Report

"Roadhouse Soul is a vinyl that we like to keep spinning until we can extract all the subtleties and especially any sensitivity. A good investment!” - Fred Delforge - Le Zicazine - France

"Johnny Max Band sounds a bit like the Canadian Rolling Stones” - Walter Vanheuckelom - Concert Monkey

"Listening to Roadhouse Soul is definitely time well spent” - Mr Blue Boogie - Villa Bota Radio, Bruges, Belgium

"driving and rocking R&B mixed effortlessly together with soul and southern influenced blues” - Blues Matters! - Bridgend, UK

"an uncanny knack for creating imaginative music…. the band whips up a full and satisfying sound.” - Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony - Blues Blast

"the real magic is that Max can take the various influences – and there are a few of them here – and distill them to take you through the bumps and the grinds of a varied musical landscape.”  - Rico Ferrierra - Blues For A Big Town

"Sometimes all it takes is one line to make an album fun. In this case, it's when Johnny Max sings, "She makes John Lee Hooker go boom, boom, boom." There are plenty more like that on the new Johnny Max Band album” - Bob Mersereau

About other albums and live performances

"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..."
Review By John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)

"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."
Michael McClune

"The Johnny Max Band, filled with New Orleans style R&B and soul with a hint of boogie woogie. Throughout the CD, Johnny plays the role of storyteller supreme!"

Rick Davis Crossroads Blues Society

"Fantastic Saturday night show and rolling through my Monday morning with the Johnny Max Band. Simply sublime. Thanks Johnny, you the man."

Michael Fazackerley

Thanks John!! Great to see you!! Always love your shows!! You really should bottle that on stage energy you have and sell it though!! lol Get rich quicker!! lol See you in the Shuffle!!

Ann (Audience member at Peterborough Market Hall)

Johnny Max Band - Roadhouse Soul - New Release Review

Bman's Blues Report January 12, 2018

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Roadhouse Soul, from the Johnny Max Band and it's a cool boogie rocker. Opening with shuffle track, Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Guy, Johnny Max shows his solid vocals skills upfront as lead vocalist with nice slide work by Kevin Vienneau and backed by Jim Casson on drums, Rob Gusevs on keys and Russ Boswell on bass. With it's funky, jazzy rhythm, (I'm Your) 911 has a super groove, getting you hopping around in your seat. Boswell's bass line is tight and backing vocals by Quisha Wint really warm up the mix.  Two stepper, I Wish I Could Write You A Love Song had a driving rhythm and Keith Richards like guitar riffs, and cool piano work adds nicely to Max's lead vocals. Title track, Roadhouse Soul is a super rocker with a grinding guitar rhythm. Gusevs' piano work really sparkles on this track and the track presses hard on the drive button with a cool overdriven guitar solo by Vienneau. With a bit of swagger and barrelhouse piano, Time Well Wasted has a real nice feel. A boogie guitar line and a tight handle on the drums gives Max full rope to swing and he does. Vienneau lay out some real nice bluesy guitar slinging here giving the track a nice kick. Wrapping the release is We've Been Together For Such A Long Time with it's mysteriously bluesy rhythm. Complex rhythm and a cool piano part make this a real nice closer for a cool release.

Johnny Max Band - Roadhouse Soul - Bluesblast Magazine, Feb 22, 2018 - Rainy Wetnight

The name of the latest release from Canada’s Johnny Max Band, Roadhouse Soul, is a misnomer. Soul typically features horns, harmony, and maybe a hot torch singer in the bargain. Every tune on this CD is quintessential electric blues rock – even the title track. Nevertheless, don’t fret. It’s more than good; it borders on the great. It’ll make people boogie whether they feel the urge or not. It’ll also make them laugh, cry, and think, because this band’s forte is songwriting. Their original material stands out amidst offerings full of covers, and that’s music to my ears. On their promotional information sheet, their vocals are described as “straightforward,” and that’s a most apropos adjective. Johnny Max and his crew don’t try any fancy tricks with vibrato or auto-tune. The way they impress is by not striving to impress: not showing off. They’re on the level.

As if this ensemble weren’t busy enough performing and touring, Max also finds time to host a radio show: “Sunday Morning Soul” on The HAZE FM, Canada’s only commercial web radio station, on Sunday mornings at 11AM and Wednesdays at 10PM. He also co-programs the CNE Bandshell BluesFest with Rico Ferrara, among other ventures. Publicist Michael Limnios once interviewed Johnny for the website BLUES.GR (Blues Greek). When asked about his love for this genre, Max explained, “Blues is a music that speaks to the common man. It tells stories that everyone one of us have known [sic] or have felt [sic] at one time. The music makes you feel so good. Makes you want to dance or get up and have a good time. A lot of people that I meet seem to think that Blues is sad and, yet, it is the complete opposite to me.”

Along with Johnny Max on lead vocals are Kevin Vienneau on guitars, mandolin and vocals; Jim Casson on drums and percussion; Rob Gusevs on piano and keyboards; Russ Boswell on bass, and Quisha Wint on background vocals.
The following three songs have humor, heart and heat, making their way to the top of the pack.

Track 01: “Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy” – We’re not supposed to feel good when others suffer misfortune. In the case of this song’s subject, however, karma can be a real witch: “He shoots off his mouth like he’s Jesse James. He’s calling people into question, calling other people names. It’s all fun and games till you lose an eye. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!” Kevin Vienneau’s guitar then laughs at him. If you’re fed up with certain folks, dance your blues away.

Track 02: “Blind Leading the Blind” – A wicked bass line and growling guitar highlight this lament about government. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It’s the same with politicians. You can’t make them think. You can clean them all up; they’ve still got the same old stink.” Professional expertise is supposed to count for a lot in today’s world, but when opinions matter more than facts, well – start singing the title, loudly and proudly.

Track 05: “I’m Broke” – Time for a peppy piano ballad! Who among us hasn’t grumbled this song’s name at least once in our lives? Reminiscent of Randy Newman in his heyday, it’s perfect for snapping your fingers, tapping your feet, or even whistling along to. Kevin Vienneau also performs a keen mandolin solo.

Johnny Max knows contemporary blues rock like the back of his hand, and also Roadhouse Soul!

Blues To The Max by Mike Greenblatt Rant ‘n’ Roll

The self-released, self-produced all-original Roadhouse Soul (Pour Soul Records) by the Johnny Max Band may be one of the most fun-filled late-night honkytonk barn-burners of the new year so far -- putting a new face on blistering old-school R&B, southern rock, soul man strut and jump-blues. Still, if you can add to your grooving long enough to really listen to what this gutsy Canadian is puttin’ down, it might even make you think.  Songs like “Blind Leading The Blind,” “I’m Your 9-1-1,” “I’m Broke” and, especially, “Time Well Wasted,” which traverses the same relationship topography as Marshall Crenshaw’s 1979 “You’re My Favorite Waste Of Time,” are double-edged swords. Can you think and dance at the same time?

Johnny Max Band - Roadhouse Soul

Le Zicazine - Fred Delforge  - December 2017 (translated)

"After three albums purely blues and then three others in which Johnny Max will let in various influences coming from the south of the United States such as the soul or the swamp blues, the songwriter and Canadian entertainer returns with a new opus in which it is as always an introspective journey to the deepest of his influences but also of his thoughts of the moment. Always very strongly colored by a blues that sticks to the skin of the artist, "Roadhouse Soul" will thus take us on a grand tour in the Mississippi Delta, extending to the neighboring States up and from Alabama, Louisiana or Texas to pick up the ingredients necessary to the achievement of an effort at the time hot and spicy, a journey on which you will notice the guitars of Kevin Vienneau to whom we owe the music, keyboards of Rob Gusevs, the bass of Russ Boswell and the drums of Jim Casson but also the choirs of Quisha Wint. From the boogie to the ragtime and the blues to the rock, including of course the Soul and Rhythm and blues, Johnny Max will let us discover through his work at the studio all the good things that he is able to offer his public when performing live and it is an album loaded with energy and homogeneous where titles are well put together, bringing many different colors and therefore many pleasures, compositions where you can inhale the part that was lived but also living space for the imagination which brings the listener to an even higher level of enjoyment. One will appreciate the performance of an experienced group that also has the warm and rich voice of an artist who does shine throughout titles such as "couldn't happen to a nicer guy", "I'm your 9-1-1", "I wish I could write you a love song" or even "Time well wasted" which makes "Roadhouse Soul" a vinyl that we like to keep spinning until we can extract all the subtleties and especially any sensitivity. A good investment!"

The Johnny Max Band is a very popular Canadian JUNO-nominated blues & rhythm & blues band. A performance by Johnny Max Band is an entertaining event with great music mixed with a good dose of humor. During their years of experience, the band succeeded in transferring the musical and the charm of their live performances to their studio work. The music that Johnny Max Band brings is a swampy mix of blues and rhythm & blues. Johnny calls it 'Roadhouse Soul', which is also the title of his latest album. 'Roadhouse Soul' is already the seventh album of Johnny Max Band. The ten original songs were written by Johnny Max & Kevin Vienneau and bring all elements to the attention that 'Roadhouse Soul' attract, namely uncomplicated vocals, insightful songwriting, tight interplay and that unmistakable swing that keeps your body moving. Johnny Max Band consists of singer Johnny Max, guitarist and mandolin player Kevin Vienneau, keyboardist Rob Gusevs, bass player Russ Boswell, drummer Jim Casson and backing singer Quisha Wint.

The album opens with 'Could not Happen To A Nicer Guy', which starts with a catchy and excellent intro on the piano by Rob Gusevs. This boogie woogie rocker is about sweet revenge and is beautifully sung by the warm blues voice of Johnny Max. Also the fat slide work of guitarist Kevin Vienneau has a great input in this swinging opener. With a fat guitar riff 'Blind Leading The Blind' is set in motion. Drummer Jim Casson and bass player Russ Boswell provide a strong driving groove in this song that is an indictment of the bad policies of the political and social leaders in this world. Johnny Max advertises himself in the very funky 'I'm Your 911'. When Superman, Spiderman and Batman are too busy you can always call Johnny Max for help. All you have to do is call 911. The very danceable 'I'm Your 911' has a very funky groove and the funky guitar riff sounds very catchy. It is again very convincingly sung by Johnny and backing singer Quisha Wint shows that she has an excellent voice. Keyboardist Rob Gusevs is also an excellent helpline, because he is again unparalleled on keyboards. The very radio friendly steamy rocker 'Little Yellow Dress' is one of the best songs on the album. Johnny Max Band sounds a bit like the Canadian Rolling Stones in this steamy rocker.

The infectious barrelhouse piano by Rob Gusevs forms the basis of the swinging rockblues song 'I'm Broke'. Rob Gusevs proves his great value for the Johnny Max Band once again during 'I Wish I Could Write You A Love Song', in which the keys again claim the leading role. With his warm blues voice, Johnny knows how to sing this ballad, in which we find many Tom Waits influences, with great conviction. The steamy and rocking title track 'Roadhouse Soul' is perfectly in line with 'Little Yellow Dress'. These are two songs that can set each hall or festival meadow on fire, with a dancing crowd as a result. Once danced out, you can enjoy the quieter 'Lend A Helping Hand', a keyboard driven Americana pop song. Quisha Wint again has a great vocal input and her voice and Johnny's songs merge into one beautiful whole at times. The raw 'Time Well Wasted' has an ideal roadhouse groove. Johnny Max Band closes their album 'Roadhouse Soul' with 'We've Been Together For Such A Long Time', a cajun jazz song with lots of vintage influences. 'Roadhouse Soul' is a pleasant album, with a few strong songs.

Walter Vanheuckelom
 Concert Monkey


Villa Bota Radio, Bruges, Belgium 106.4FM

Canada is since long a good place for the blues. Of course the big names used to come from the US but over the years the household names in blues do come from many other places as well. One of them is Ontario, Canada and while the Johnny Max Band is not yet a household name in the general blues catalogue, it should be one pretty soon, if it is up to me. Title track “Roadhouse Soul” made it into our bi-weekly radio show upon receiving the album in no time, but now it’s time to check it out with a more in-depth look.

Leading track “Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy “ is the first of 10 self-penned tunes. A warm welcomed tune about revenge in an upbeat / Boogie Woogie way that kicks of the album. The “Blind leading the Blind” is all about politics. While you might or might not agree with Johnny Max, the funky guitar on this tune is somehow quite catchy and make you come back to this song over and over. “I’m your 911” goes even deeper into the funk and throws in a bit of jazz as well. When Batman, Superman and Spiderman are too busy, Johnny Max might come to the rescue if you believe this song. “Little Yellow Dress” is a radio friendly blues rocker as is “Roadhouse Soul”. The latter is another one that I keep spinning whenever I have the time. “Lend a helping hand” is again quite soulful, with the excellent keys from Rob Gusevs and the warm background vocals of Quisha Wint. “Time Well Wasted” is not about the 40 minutes blues on this album but about friendship. Closing the album is “We've Been Together For Such A Long Time” with a guitar that comes straight from a sixties film or soundtrack.

Listening to Roadhouse soul is definitely time well spent as the ten tracks on this record are quite interesting and a handful are
without doubt excellent or even better. I enjoyed this album and I do hope you can do the same pretty soon.

Mr Blue Boogie


Blues Matters! - Bridgend, UK

Rocking, rolling roadhouse sounding release from Canada, this is a ten-track album that has some great, driving fretwork and truly top-notch keys that fuel and drive the whole thing along with a nice, deft touch and overall feel. Max’s vocals are finely pitched with some raw edges and a soulful delivery that matches the band’s pulsing push and purpose. Tracks come from the band itself and have themes that touch on politics, the usual love won and lost, and hints of southern soul included. Canada has a rich and vibrant roots and blues music fraternity and following, so this band comes with clear determination and grasp of the soul-end of the music after years of working the scene back home. Although this album is unashamedly southern soul, with a funky Memphis trail, Johnny Max Band has previously been nominated and picked up a number of leading blues awards in North America. In reality, this offering works extremely well, hi-lighting some great guitar and keyboard chops alongside strong, driving and rocking R&B mixed effortlessly together with soul and southern influenced blues.

Johnny Max Band - Roadhouse Soul - Poor Soul Records

Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony - Blues Blast - August 2017

Johnny Max's sincere and warm vocals meld perfectly with his musicians and lyrics on this well crafted collection of roots rock tempered by funk, blues, R&B and whatever else they throw in. These Canadian bands have an uncanny knack for creating imaginative music. With just the basics of guitar, mandolin, bass, drums, keyboards and backing vocals the band whips up a full and satisfying sound. The production by Johnny Max and guitarist Kevin Vienneau gives clarity to each instrument. All compositions are band originals.

Sweet revenge is the subject of the upbeat "Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Guy". Boogie-woogie piano, slide guitar, clever lyrics delivered in a warm manner add up to a winner. "Blind Leading The Blind" comments on the sad state of the world situation over a super catchy guitar riff. Speaking of which, a another nifty riff leads into the funky "(I'm Your) 911", where guitar intertwines with the textured keyboards of Rob Gusevs. Quisha Wint contributes her soulful background vocals as she does elsewhere during the proceedings. A modern day song with similar sentiments of "Nobody Knows You Are Down And Out" is the delightfully wistful and upbeat "I'm Broke". Kevin Vienneau's melodic mandolin greatly enhances this tune. The only other instrument being some bluesy piano.

Johnny's warm voice envelopes the tender lyrical content of the perfect love song "I Wish I Could Write You A Love Song". The title track is a rollicking rocker is a jubilant description of their type of music. Brotherhood is the thrust of the slow electric piano driven "Lend A Helping Hand". Quisha once again offers up her soothing backing vocals. The roadhouse groove really kicks in on the raucous "Time Well Wasted" with its' Chuck Berry-ish guitar goodness. The tender "We've Been Together For Such A Long Time" melds spy movie guitar with "chimey" piano. A beautiful wrap up to a totally enjoyable good time.

Everything works well here from the vocals, Kevin's guitars and mandolin, Rob's keyboards, Jim Casson's drums, Russ Boswell's bass to Quisha Wint's complimentary vocals. When all the parts gel like this it makes for musical magic. It's very obvious that much care was given to this project. Take advantage of the good feelings within this CD.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

Johnny Max Band

Roadhouse Soul

“Call what you want; we call it Roadhouse Soul…” - Rico Ferrierra - Blues For A Big Town

A Johnny Max Band performance has always proven to be a hugely entertaining rockin’ and reelin’ event featuring great music punctuated with a good dose of humour. Over the course of 6 critically acclaimed and commercially accepted releases, Max and his partners have succeeded in bringing the musical goods and charm of their live shows into their studio work as well. The tradition endures on arguably Max’s best release to date, Roadhouse Soul.

Max, long a practitioner of sidestepping the accepted and confining boundaries of traditional blues, continues to stay true to his musical vision on this outing. That vision is a swampy blend of blues and R&B, or “Roadhouse Soul” as he calls it, that borrows more from R&B found south of the Mason Dixon line than it does from traditional blues. But the real magic is that Max can take the various influences – and there are a few of them here – and distill them to take you through the bumps and the grinds of a varied musical landscape.

The 10 originals spotlight all of the elements that provide Roadhouse Soul its enduring appeal: straightforward vocals, insightful songwriting, tight ensemble playing, and that unmistakable swing that keeps your body moving. Of note is the title track, a driving, unabashed, all out rocker complete with a frat boy chorus that just invites you to sing along. But don’t write off the entire collection as a one trick guitar driven effort or your sensibilities will be shaken with numbers displaying different styles and intonations that provide both an emotional and creative depth. Namely: Americana Pop (“Lend A Helping Hand”), Uptown Funk (“I’m Your 9-1-1”), a Tom Waits infused ballad (“I Wish I Could Write You A Love Song”), and Cajun Jazz (“We’ve Been Together For Such A Long Time”).

Primary songwriters are Johnny Max and Kevin Vienneau who also double as producers of the disc. And all is laid down by Max’s fine band: Kevin Vienneau (guitars, mandolin, & vocals), Rob Gusevs (keys), Russ Boswell (bass), Jim Casson (drums), Quisha Wint (background vocals).


Sometimes all it takes is one line to make an album fun. In this case, it's when Johnny Max sings, "She makes John Lee Hooker go boom, boom, boom." There are plenty more like that on the new Johnny Max Band album, but that gives you an idea of the good-time feel the group doles out. Max has a warm, jovial voice, with some Leon Redbone lowness, but still very tuneful. The music's upbeat, with Rob Gusevs' keyboards and Kevin Vienneau's mandolin adding lots of brightness.

They can rock as well, again heavy on the good times, as the title track shows. Co-producer Vienneau proves to be a big and brash lead guitar player on this track that echoes classic B.T.O. But they can turn it around and get introspective and soulful too, on Lend A Helping Hand. As usual, Max is playing all over Southern Ontario in all his various groups and gigs, but there are some special album launches with the JMB coming up, all listed at the site. - Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro - Blues Editor

By far the best of all your CDs.  Nice stuff.

Johnny Max Band Roadhouse Soul Pour Soul - Toronto Blues Society - January, 2017

John Valenteyn - John's Blues Picks - Host JohnValenteyn's Blues - CIUT 89.5FM

The JMB is actually an entirely new band behind our favourite front man. Kevin Viennau is the guitarist and co-songwriter, Rob Gusevs is on keys, Russ Boswell, bass and Jim Casson, drums – veterans all. Johnny Max and Kevin have ten excellent originals here for your enjoyment. They can certainly rock out: the opener, “Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Guy”, is the tale of a not very nice person who gets what he deserves. “Blind Leading The Blind” is a stunning diatribe about our political & social leaders who have gotten us, all of us, in such a dreadful state – well-written, powerful stuff. A little funk follows in “(I’m Your) 911” with Johnny singing that he’s standing by to help. Some Stones-style rock follows about a knockout woman in a ”Little Yellow Dress” . “I’ m Broke” doesn’ t need much explanation but it starts with some fine blues piano before Viennau joins in on mandolin – they do country blues very well too. The title song will be their new anthem I’m sure, a roaring statement of what they do – you’ll hear this one every show. More social commentary is on hand as well with a beautifully written and sung plea to please “Lend A Helping Hand”. “Time Well Wasted” is an excellent song about a couple of a certain age getting together.

Johnny Max Band Roadhouse Soul Pour Soul - La Hora Del Blues - April, 2017

Over the years The Johnny Max Band have over gained a reputation of a band which really knows to entertain, catch and give joy to different audiences, thanks to a funny, attractive and full of rhythm music, together with a well-chosen repertoire and song lyrics that always have an extreme and accurate sense of humour. All the good things the band gives in his live shows are also well reflected in every album they publish, which happens in this latest work where they have included ten songs to let us discover their musical knowledge and extensive experience. Johnny Max on vocals, Kevin Vienneau on guitars, mandolin and vocals, Rob Gusevs on keyboards, Russ Boswell on bass, Jim Casson on drums and Quisha Wint on backing vocals and harmonies, manage to create a warm atmosphere and an engaging background that will delight listeners, taking them to a musical field the band mastery knows, where they show their complete control of tempos, rhythms, melodies and composition skills. VERY GOOD.

I have been listening to a few CD's recently-- and I have to recommend a bit of listening pleasure to y'all!

#1--Johnny Max Band---Roadhouse Soul---I am in heaven listening to this one --- Johnny's CD's have never ever disappointed---check this one out, NOW!!!
All around listening pleasure-if you get the chance, DO NOT EVER miss a show! Just something to make you smile, jiggle and shuffle!!!!!
Betsy Lynn Paisley

Congrats on your new disc. I’ve had it in my car player for a few weeks and enjoyed playing it while out on the road. A great selection of tunes, grooves and instrumental flavours. Kudos to you and Kevin on the production. I love the way it moves from one song to another never sounding the same. Some moments a little Rolling Stones, then Paul Carrick, then Bonnie Raitt to Van Morrison. Your voice sounds great too, particularly on “I wish I could write a love song”. I keep hearing “the blind leading the blind” in my head - quite the ear worm you got there and a cool lyric too! Anyway well done.....
David L

Takin' it to the Max

Market Hall braces for the explosion that is singer Johnny Max

When you can't become one with the instrument, become the instrument.

That approach has served Johnny Max extremely well, evidence of that on full display this Saturday night (March 23) at Market Hall as Max brings his trademark over-the-top stage energy back to Peterborough. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show cost $25, $20 for students and seniors, at the box office, Moondance or order online at

Just last fall, Max played the same venue as part of The Last Waltz Tribute and, over the past few summers, he's brought his act to the patio gazebo in back of the Holiday Inn.

"There's a really good vibe in Peterboroughâ?¦it's one of the funkiest places to play and that patio thing is one of the coolest gigs I've done," enthuses Max.

That's a nice endorsement from a guy who, over two decades, has played numerous shows and festivals. To each, he has brought a level of energy that is a notch above out-of-control.

"I'd love to be one of those guys who can be still up there," he laughs.

"I have to be the centre of attention. Too many Fruit Loops, I guess. I've always been that way. I don't play an instrument, so I have to make up for that. Can't help itâ?¦I just feel the music and away I go. People respond to it and that just makes me even more animated."

But there is substance behind the showmanship. Max can sing, be it blues, soul, funk or a hybrid of all three. And that talent has been validated in a big way by those in the know.

His latest album, It's A Long Road, picked up a second Juno Award nomination. The album prior, A Lesson I've Learned, was also nominated for a Juno. And there's been his three Maple Blues Award nominations, each time in the Entertainer of the Year category.

"The recognition does mean somethingâ?¦it strokes your ego but more than that, it says you're on the right track," notes Max.

Still, one gets the sense that while the industry accolades are nice, Max remains a dedicated student of the music.

Proof of that lies in his radio program, Sunday Morning Soul. Heard each Sunday morning, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at - it was aired for a number of years prior on AM 1430 out of Toronto -- it features a wide variety of blues, soul and R&B as performed by legendary artists as well as up-and-comers.

"The blues scene in generalâ?¦too many bands playing what they think Muddy Waters sounded like; if blues doesn't change, it stays static," notes Max.

"Look at Harry Manx. He brings in a sitar to the music and a whole new sound is created. Still blues, still loyal to the genre, but with a whole new feel. Even the Weber Brothers, mixing a blues vibe with a roots vibe with rock 'n' roll."

Recording-wise, Max says a compilation album of his past work is scheduled for release in the spring with an album of new material slotted for a fall release.

"Saturday night will be a retrospective show, covering past material from five albums, and some surprises along the way," previews Max, crediting "a great band" for its part.

"I live for the performance. Recording is different and that's OK but I really feed off the energy of a room. That's what it's all about for me."



About Thornbury Jazz By The Bay Music Series


sooo great to hear you & the band, and the comments around me were that you guys charmed them with your physicality, your energy on stage.  you guys were a *party* and this series needs that.  effen great.

Avril Dell

comments from The Cove Inn show presented by Blues n The Rideau


Comments from attendees that night:


"Supper was delicious and so was the company. Music was incredible. Johnny Max Band rocks the house!" 

Kathyrn Ross, Perth (First timer. Heard about the Show on B.B. King's Bluesville Show on Sirius/XM Satellite radio. Rated everything 10 out of 10)


"This band was soooo... good. Loved it from start to finish. Hard to stay in my seat!"

Ronda Candy, Inverary (First timer at The Cove Inn) 


"Our first time at The Cove and we really enjoyed it - personable staff, delicious dinner and the Johnny Max Band was absolutely amazing. We are looking forward to listening to their CD's that we bought. We'll be back!" Sarah Mattie & Josh Kirkey, Brockville (First timers - won tickets on 101.9 DAWG FM)

The Johnny Max Bigger Band - Revival Bar, Thursday January 13, 2011 - by Eric Thom


It seems it’s almost become tradition every two years or so.


‘Twas on a fateful night back in 2008 that a determined Johnny Max decided to get a jumpstart on the weekend’s Blues Summit by holding a blow-out party at the sound-friendly Trane Studios.


The show would feature Johnny and his band together with Paul Reddick and his makeshift squad of musical notables. That was before a severe, 2-day blackout swallowed up a good section of the city and, on the night of the show, Johnny was forced to move his party out of the black and about 2 blocks north to carry on with his plans at a barely heated Mayday Malone’s.


The resulting musical mayhem proved more than memorable and those who missed it, kicked themselves all weekend long.


With the release of his newest CD, It’s A Long Road, Johnny figured he’d get things cooking in similar fashion to help kick off this year’s Summit.


The Revival Bar was abuzz as Johnny’s regular band consisting of Vince Maccarone (drums & percussion), Wayne Deadder (bass, guitars, background vocals), John Findlay (guitars, vocals). Paul Ormandy (percussion) and Jesse O’Brien (keyboards) were to be supplemented with a full horn section comprised of Johnny Johnson (sax), Gord Myers (trombone), Steve Crowe and Kevin Turcotte (trumpets).


Given Johnny’s twisted R&B take on the blues – realized to a tee on the Juno-contending It’s A Long Road – that’s tantamount to giving David Berkowitz a new box of bullets for his birthday.  Needless to say, the added horn power would help add considerable punch and groove to the new material.


Needless to say, indeed. As the temperatures plunged outside, the mercury rose quickly in the house. Johnny seemed somewhat nervous given that some of the material had not yet been performed live but he needn’t have been.


The house was full of supportive friends and fans and, based on the Juno success of his last outing and Johnny’s multiple Maple Blue nominations for the upcoming Awards show, this was a massive pep rally for the pre-converted.


In no particular order, The Johnny Max ‘Bigger’ Band ran through a blistering double-set of new classics together with choice tracks from A Lesson I’ve Learned and Ride & Roll. Stand-outs included the slinky, horn and piano-driven “Daddy’s Little Girl” from the new album together with the extra-greasy “One Day”.


A surprise highlight was Wayne Deadder’s original “Song of New York”, revealing another level of sophistication to what the band does best. Ballads like “Heading Back To You” benefited greatly from the horn assembly while the full-frontal assault pushed “Daddy’s Girl” beyond expectations.


John Findlay’s role is key and tough songs like “Too Many Fish” packed a mighty groove while understated percussionist Paul Ormandy demonstrates the added funk quotient he contributes on each and every song (especially evident on “That’s It, I Quit”).


Findlay’s leads are clean, tidy and precise, his concentration never faltering for a moment, lurking behind the outspoken Max. Likewise, keyboard player Jesse O’Brien drives many songs with his tasteful barrage of 88s with a delightful solo on the jazzy “She Don’t Love Me Anymore”.


The rocket-in-the-pocket combination of “Shifty” Deadder and Vince Maccarone – although hidden due to the narrow layout of the packed stage, make for an aggressive rhythm section, providing the perfect foil for their front man.


Johnny Max clearly loves the material and sells it best to a crowd when he can read they’re enjoying it. As it was clear that they were, Johnny ramped up his energy level to match the material.


I’m In Trouble” provided another high water mark and is likely Johnny’s theme song. From the crowd-pleasing “I’m In Trouble” to the hard-driving “She’s Not The Marrying Kind”, the audience were pumped and fully into it.


No power failures. No last-minute complications. Just a night of great music from a band who loves to play as much as their audience loves to listen – and dance – to what they do.


The perfect Friday night appetizer to the Blues Summit weekend ahead, if not a colourful reminder why people have lots to love about our homegrown blues.

Johnny Max Band: 49 Minutes - By: John Vermilyea - New Blues Canada

I must say I really like "Best Of" albums, especially when they come from artists for whom I really have enjoyed their previous releases and especially if they are of the blues variety, for which "Best Of" releases are a bit of a rarity. "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!" by the Johnny Max Band is the latest to enter the "Best Of" ring and after giving it a listen, I must say it is a knockout of an album, "Best Of" or otherwise. "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!" marks the 6th release for the Johnny Max Band, a 2X JUNO Award & multiple Maple Blues Award nominee, plus numerous other accolades including a International Songwriting Competition Blues Song of the Year, for their song "Daddy's Little Girl" from their "It's A Long Road" album. "Daddy's Little Girl" was chosen as the opening Track for "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!". "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!" consists of 12 great Tracks, all taken from the Johnny Max Band's most recent 3 releases, with the lions share, six in total, being chosen from their 2010 "It's A Long Road" album, which by all accounts, was their best album to date. Tracks from the 2007 release "A Lesson I've Learned" and the 2005 release "Ride And Roll", make up the other six Tracks. I had not heard any of "Ride And Roll", so it was a nice treat to hear a couple of songs from that album on "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!". "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!", will certainly please a lot of fans of the Johnny Max Band, as it did for me, as many of my favorites from "It's A Long Road" and "A Lesson I've Learned", which included "Daddy's Little Girl", "Down In History", "Too Many Fish", I'm In Trouble", and my favorite of the them all, "(You're) A Lesson I've Learned", were included. For "Best Of" albums, "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!", is certainly one of the finest I have received in many a year and is an album which should really appeal to a lot of other people far beyond the Johnny Max Band's current fanbase. For those that are not familiar with the bands amazing work, "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!", is a super great place to start from. 5***** for "49 Minutes...Of The Best We Have!", a real winner.

Johnny Max Band: 49 Minutes - By: Gilles Blampain - Blues

Tout est dit dans le titre du CD, il s’agit bien d’un best of. 49 minutes de rythmes trépidants où viennent s’insérer quelques mélodies plus douces pour apaiser un tourbillon au tempo fougueux. Pour ceux qui ne connaitraient pas encore le Johnny Max Band de Toronto (voir la rubrique ‘interviews’), voilà une belle occasion pour le découvrir avec cet album plein de bonnes vibrations qui en ravira plus d’un. Le groupe, sur scène depuis de très nombreuses années a reçu de multiples récompenses et a enregistré 5 disques avant celui-ci. La sélection a donc été piochée dans les albums précédents. Johnny Max, chanteur à la voix grave et rocailleuse, âme et pivot du groupe aime mélanger les genres et son rocking soul blues, a, selon les titres, des pulsations venues de New Orleans ou des trépidations sorties des clubs de Memphis ou du South side de Chicago. Base rythmique magistrale, solos de guitare étincelants, orgue velouté ou piano sautillant, section de cuivres infernale, ça renverse tout sur son passage. C’est éclatant de vitalité et la puissance le dispute au feeling. Chaque chanson prouve que les musiciens ne sont pas là pour passer le temps, leur plaisir est communicatif. Les 12 titres sont signés par le leader ou des membres du band. Le JMB est au sommet depuis longtemps et gageons qu’il y restera encore quelques décennies.

Johnny Max Band: 49 Minutes - Vincente Zumel, La Hora del Blues - Spain - 4 STARS!

Johnny Max Band – Forty-Nine Minutes - Blues Blast Magazine

What goes into the making of a greatest-hits compilation?

How do musicians decide which songs make the cut, and which go on the cutting room floor? Do they choose tracks that they themselves consider personal bests, or crowd favorites?

In the case of Canada’s Johnny Max Band, they present twelve hits from drawing from previous albums, totaling “Forty-Nine Minutes of the Best We Have.” Even though their promotional info sheet says that “Max’s style borrows more from R and B found south of the Mason-Dixon line than it does from traditional blues,” purists shouldn’t automatically punt this CD out of bounds. It has more than enough energy to pep up any partygoers, but where JMB really shines is in its songwriting skills. In fact, the opener “Daddy’s Little Girl”, originally from their 2010 release It’s a Long Road won the International Songwriting Competition Blues Song of the Year.

This extensive ensemble consists of Johnny Max on vocals, bassists Wayne Deadder, Garth Vogan, and Uli Bohnet, keyboardists Martin Aucoin and Jesse O’Brien, guitarists Deadder, Kevin Higgins, John Findlay, and Ted Leonard, drummers Vince Maccarone and Duncan McBain, and Quisha Wint and Virgil Scott on background vocals. They also have a horn section: saxophonist Jon Johnson, Gord Meyers on trombone, and Steve Crowe on trumpet. All twelve selections on “Forty-Nine Minutes” are originals written by Johnny Max (John McAneney) and collaborators. The three below are all worth a slot on jukebox and radio playlists:

Track 01: “Daddy’s Little Girl” – This perky New Orleans-style number is about a common blues pitfall: a woman in a “short, short miniskirt with legs up to the sky” – and a gold-digger’s heart. “She smiles at me most every day, because I was prepared to pay,” our narrator sings, listing several expensive objects afterwards. All of the instrumentation here is in top form, from Aucoin’s piano keyboards to Jon Johnson’s smoking saxophone.

Track 05: “Song of New York” – It may be a pensive ballad and one of the least blues-sounding songs on the album, but it definitely has the best lyrics. Describing a great American city with parts gone to seed, this song’s best section is also its grimmest: “In lower Manhattan, some pain still remains and drowns in the tears, three thousand names. The stockbrokers are broken; the tourists, they just stare, while the native New Yorkers pretend it’s not there. There’s something that happened on that fateful day – the city got stronger. That’s why I say this is a song of New York.”

Track 12: “Waiting On You” – Another big-band beauty, the album’s closer will get the juke joint jumping. With bongo drums and a bouncy beat, it’s the perfect mix of blues and soul. Quisha Wint and Virgil Scott provide fiery background vocals, and Findlay’s guitar solo sizzles.

This is “Forty-Nine Minutes” of funky fun!


Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Tone Monkey - May 2012 - Ian McHugh

The Johnny Max band was definitely a new name to me when I came across their current album recently. It has apparently been out for a while but it has for some obscure reason stayed of my radar until recently, and based on the quality of the record I cannot understand why.

It opens with an easy New Orleans-y stomp with the lazy rhythms, danceable beat and jazzy horns that that implies, joined by a sweet but stinging slide guitar and a voice that sounds lived in and whiskey soaked. As an opener it’s superb and immediately put a smile on my face, and, as the album continues throughout in a similar vein, sets the mood for me having a good time. Great imagery abounds throughout, there are hints of Tom Waits in the songwriting and a strong sense of the storytelling that is real blues music, and the languid, sticky heat of America’s deep south oozes from the speakers. Nothing is rushed, overplayed or flash for flash sake, it’s subtle, somewhat introspective and beautiful instead.

The sound of the record is special too, I have heard very few blues records as well recorded and mixed as this, instruments have their own space, the bass pumps, snares crack and guitars bite just as they should and the horns slice in a way that is distinctly Motown. The whole thing is immensely cohesive and has a flow that has you waiting in anticipation for what comes next while desperately trying to hold on to what you’re hearing right now. This is one of those rare recordings where each song is a gem in it’s own right, easily capable of standing on it’s own merits but when taken as a part of the whole it grows and becomes part of an opulent tapestry of sound.

While the strong New Orleans influence of the opener crops up again throughout the disk, but it’s not a one dimensional record, calling as it does on the mean streets of New York in a jazzy number, in modern Chicago and all stops along the route from the urban north to the French Quarter. No-one it seems is consciously trying to duplicate these styles, they seem to flow seamlessly, without compromise to the musician’s talents and individual style. It seems they have mastered the trick of being themselves but evoking a massive array of sounds and styles, and it makes for a great listen.

The album’s title, “It’s a Long Road”, is a very apt one. It gives the listener a pervasive and expansive musical journey through the blues and proves that you need not be a superstar in order to create a record of lasting appeal. This is truly a great recording, one that really should attract your attention, and if it makes it to your CD player don’t expect it to leave any time soon.

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Dusty Blues - June 2011 - Vincente Zumel


I am delighted to introduce you the new Johnny Max Band work. Johnny is a passionate powerful singer who refuses to be only labeled as a blues artist. In fact, Johnny Max explores different musical ways, always rich in nuances, performing a wide range of roots popular music, giving his particular stamp but always with absolute conviction and a vigorous firm elegant taste. Johnny also has a special sensitivity he shows along the twelve songs included, with gumbos, New Orleans rhythm and blues, southern soul and rock, all spiced with a touch of boogie and groove, in the path of Tom Waits' music. The backing band sounds relaxed and well teamed, with John Findlay guitars, Vince Maccarone drums, Jesse O'Brien piano and keyboards and Wayne Deadder, bass and guitar. A great horn section gives a special flavour to the album to make it sound well crafted, cool and vitalistic. GREAT

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road 

Blues Revue Review #12-11  - Eric Thom January 24, 2012

Score one for the good guys. Those local heroes who just keep at it – playin’, promotin’ and pushin’ hard to get the respect their music deserves. It’s a long road, indeed. But when the time is right and the planets finally align, things happen.

Max is, first and foremost, a music fan and it shows: when he’s not fronting the Johnny Max Band, he’s playing with the Johnny Max Bigger Band or his Heart Attacks – idle hands are the devil’s tools…

His fifth release, the stable of players he’s assembled have reached a perfect balance of all the elements Max has become well-known for – powerful, R&B-fused rock-n-blues. On It’s A Long Road, Max’s personal taste meter is cranked up high with some of the numbers approaching a jazz sophistication, thanks to the restraint and just-the-right-notes playing of Jesse O’Brien (piano, organ) and John Findlay (guitar). This tight 5-piece includes the spectacular rhythm section of Wayne Deadder (bass) and shoeless Vince Maccarone (drums). Max is more than able as front man – his powerful, spirited, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners balls-to-the-walls bursts of raw energy are all about the music – his love for what he does as obvious as the sweat soaking through to his clothes. Max’s love for a big show has brought the talents of Johnny Johnson’s horn section – some of the city’s best players (Kevin Turcotte, Steve Crowe) – to take songs like “She’s Not The Marrying Kind” over the top. As always, Max’s sense of humor rides herd on everything he does, adding a smart element to both the lyrics and their overtly sly delivery. Added flourishes pay off as well – the addictive percussion of Paul Ormandy and the tasty backup vocals of Quisha Wint – further flesh out the band’s sound, enlarging their scope. >From the slick and sexy grease of the N’awlin’s-basted “Daddy’s Girl” to the gut-bucket aggression of “Too Many Fish”, the dozen band originals cover a lot of blues-loving turf. The uptown “Heading Back to You” with its Southside Johnny feel to the jazzy sleeper, “Song of New York”, the Johnny Max Band is all about range and delivering on a groove. Cut to “Too Many Fish” and you’ve got the band’s heavier side, thanks to Maccarone’s powerful beat and Findlay’s muscular lead – Max’s vocals bend and weave as required, suiting the material well. “I’m In Trouble” could well be Max’s theme song – he does Dangerfield proud, as Findlay’s guitar stings. As Max sings on “Heading Back To You”, “If good things come to only those who wait ….I may’ve got here way too late…”. Apparently not, Johnny – your train has arrived and it’s definitely pulling in to the station.

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Time Machine Music, December 12, 2011


For Johnny Max it’s all about the music, and always has been. Although continually gravitating towards Blues infected material, Max refuses to be limited and categorized, for everyone’ s convenience, as a Blues artist. He can’ t do it – his admiration for the likes of Eddie Hinton and Debert McClinton won’ t permit it.

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 that 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.


The core band of Max (vocals), Vince Maccarone (drums), Wayne Deadder (bass), John Findlay (guitars), and Jesse O’ Brien (keys), is ably supported by a complement of fine musicians on background vocals and percussion, plus a full brass section led by Johnny Johnson. They all play an integral role in producing a fully realized Johnny Max Band project that sets itself apart from the majority of the offerings that a listener might find in the Blues category.


“It’s a Long Road”, with its many twists and turns, is exactly where Johnny has always been headed and it’s a worthwhile journey indeed.

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Blues In The South Magazine - UK - January 2011 - Ian McKenzie


What a hotbed of blues music there is in Canada . Sue Foley, Matt Andersen, Jimmy Bowskill, Monkey Junk and the late Jeff Healey (to mention only a few) and 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 drums 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’.
This CD is for any and all of you who enjoy riff driven, funky, gumbo flavoured r&b, with more than a hint of boogie woogie. This one comes strongly recommended.

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Cashbox Magazine Canada - James Lizzard - Included in "The Worthy Dozen"


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.

Johnny Max Band - It's A Long Road

Uptown - Winnipeg - Jeff Monk


Johnny (Max) McAneney is now on album number five and, as far as contemporary Canuck bluesers go, this one is a winner. Max has a super solid voice, kind of a less-raspy version of stateside soul/blues belter Delbert McClinton’s gravelly croon, and he makes it work wonderfully over the course of this dozen tracker. Track for track It’s A Long Road will withstand comparison to some of the best albums of the genre and that’s saying a lot. With a tight band and additional horn section making his personal and engaging adult-themed lyrics shine Max surely deserves some hefty accolades. If you are a blues fan of any stripe try and get on this road soon.

Johnny Max Band - It's A Long Road

Bluesyluc Rootstime Magazine


If you like soulful rocking, boogie blues, you should listen to the Johnny Max Band. Their latest litter, entitled "Its A Long Road" and has twelve tracks. The Canadians have a steadily growing following at home and have gained the necessary recognition.

The group consists of more than average number of talented musicians alongside Max himself even include Vince Maccarone on drums and Johnny Johnson (horns). These three were all nominated for three Maple Blues Awards and "Entertainer", "Drummer" and "Horn Player" of the year. Just to say that we do not hear gray mice.

The group plays the blues as they believe the blues to play. They seem to be a mix of styles into one production. The result is quite substantially. With winds in a major album has become a lively musical journey with special attention to the lyrics. Musically we wrote perfectly al Listen to the brilliant Barrelhouse piano Jesse O 'Brien in "Daddy's Little Girl", the man excellent keyboardist.

The whole gets an extra color by adding the horn section. This is best illustrated in the steaming, stomping swamp blues song "Too Many Fish". We also have a soft spot for "Songs Of New York", a wry story with wonderful music, text and ditto.

Live, this album / band splashes give their soulful blues boogie is contagious. And although the wind is not officially part of the band is their contribution determines the overall mood of the release. Funky R & B, boogie-woogie. Like what you've If so, go to the website of the Johnny Max Band!

Johnny Max Band - It's A Long Road

Kippenvel - Ruud Heijjer


Go Johnny, go!

De Canadese zanger Johnny Max heeft al zes jaar een radioprogramma dat enigszins misleidend The Sunday Morning Soul heet. De blues heeft namelijk zijn voorliefde, al is hij daarin net als op voorganger A Lesson I’ve Learned niet bekrompen.

Hij zingt op zijn vijfde plaat twaalf songs, meestal geschreven met drummer Vince Maccarone, bassist Wayne Deadder en gitarist John Findlay. Daarin putten zij en toetsenist Jesse O’Brien enthousiast en geïnspireerd uit blues, soul, jazz en funk.

Deze vier nieuwe, maar ervaren bandleden spelen veelzijdig en moeiteloos. In tien van de twaalf songs worden ze gesteund door Johnny Johnson – altsax, Gord Myers – trombone, Steve Crowe en Kevin Turcotte – trompet en achtergrondzangeres Quisha Wint. Samen met Maccarone en Deadder speelt O’Brien sterke ritmes, maar hij speelt ook rootsy solo’s, terwijl gitarist Findlay hier minstens zo fel en allround is als op zijn eigen cd Fairplay.

Swingende voorbeelden zijn New Orleans-opener Daddy’s Little Girl, de soulblues van Heading Back To You en het op Little Feat’s Spanish Moon geïnspireerde Waiting On You.

Song Of New York, It’s A Long Road en You Tell Me zijn echter meer dan lekkere, afgeronde grooves. Deze muzikale hoogtepunten stemmen ook tot nadenken: een melancholiek liefdeslied voor het New York van na 11 september 2001, een mooie metafoor voor het leven en een serie prangende vragen aan een televisiedominee na de zoveelste ramp. Zo maakt de Johnny Max Band muziek voor hart en hoofd.

Johnny Max Band - It's A Long Road

Crossroads Blues Society - Rick Davis


“It's A Long Road”, is the latest studio cd by the Johnny Max Band, filled with New Orleans style R&B and soul with a hint of boogie woogie. Throughout the cd, Johnny plays the role of storyteller supreme! His supporting cast receiving co-credits on production and songwriting consists of Vince Maccarone on drums, Wayne Deadder on bass, John Findlay on guitar, and Jesse O’Brien on keyboards. Added to band is the four-piece brass section 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, a backing vocalist, and additional percussion creating a tasty blend, like a big pot of New Orleans gumbo simmering on the stove.
The cd opens with Jessie O'Brien pounding out those barrelhouse piano blues and a full horn arrangement with Johnny and his storytelling about "Daddy's Little Girl". "Heading Back Home To You" really brings out the stellar horn section with Johnny once again on vocals supported by superior back-up vocals. The New Orleans jazz style number "She Don't Love Me Anymore" echoes out tragic goodbyes from Max woven together with piano and guitar solos throughout. The sad tales of a relationship gone bad continues with "One Day". "Song of New York" tells us of the life in the big city told only like Johnny Max can tell it. They pick the pace up with the ZZ Top style Texas boogie tune "Too Many Fish" with superb guitar solos from John Findlay. Trouble seems to follow Max around as he belts out his lines in "I'm In Trouble".  "It's A long Road" opens with Johnny giving lots of advice throughout the course of life. He describes the type of girl you don't want to bring home in "She's Not The Marrying Kind" with rockin' guitar solos once again from John Findlay. The cd continues to rock with "Waiting On You" backed one again by soulful background vocals. A muted trumpet rings out from the horn section as Max continues with the jazz tune "That's It, I Quit!". The albums ends with the haunting number "You Tell Me" coming straight out of the Louisiana bayou.

The Toronto blues band has become one of Canada 's most popular and well respected in the business. Johnny Max has the reputation as being one of the best live entertainers in the blues world today. “It's A Long Road” exemplifies this reputation as one of Canada 's finest.

Johnny Max Band - It's A Long Road

In A Blue Mood - March 27, 2011


Hailing from the Toronto, Ontario, Johnny Max has been playing the blues on radio as well as singing and playing the blues for a few decades now. This writer had the pleasure of seeing him perform at a Saturday afternoon pub engagement which impressed me with his vocals and solid band as well as his way of communicating with an audience, leading me to buy a fine CD by him A Lesson I’ve Learned (Pour Soul Records). He has a new release that this writer finds as delightful, if not more so, Its a Long Road (Pour Soul Records). He is backed by the current Johnny Max Band of Vince Maccarone, (drums), Wayne Deadder, (bass), John Findlay, (guitars), and Jesse O’Brien (keys) who are complemented by background vocals and percussion, plus a full brass section led by Johnny Johnson (obviously a different person than the late piano legend). 

What is immediately apparent is how confident and relaxed Johnny Max’s vocals are and how strong the support he receives. The band sounds well-rehearsed and crisp as if they have been playing this material for weeks (which they may well have), while Max brings warmth, conviction and more than an occasional sense of sly humor here and his songs sound fresh as he ables brings a gumbo of blues and classic rhythm and blues grooves on displayed here. It helps that Johnny Max also has a way with words in capturing the spoiled Daddy’s Little Girl, about the girl who caught his eye with a short mini-shirt who knows how to get what she wants with the band playing a lively New Orleans groove. He also can set the mood, as on Heading Back to You, is a wonderfully sung ballad, while a jazzier flavor marks She Don't Love Me Anymore, as he talks about his women having enough of Johnny’s crazy stuff and that he cannot stay. 


The country flavor of Song of New York serves as a background for an almost casual delivery of a set of short vignettes of the dark side of the Big Apple with a nice short tenor sax break. The lively I’m in Trouble, with a latin groove and bright horn arrangement as he notes that every time he opens his big fat mouth, nothing but trouble comes pouring out.” This release hopefully will enable Johnny Max to be recognized for the fine performer he is with a warm and soulful vocals full of personality, and strong songwriting as well as the superb musicians playing with him. Highly recommended.

Johnny Max Band – It’s A Long Road

Blues In Britain Magazine - Mick Rainsford 


Pour Soul is a particularly appropriate label name for this release – as that is exactly what Johnny Max does on this hot new CD.


Max is a purveyor of blue-eyed soul with deep blues and R&B roots – the sheer power and feeling of his vocals matched by a great band that features Vince Maccarone (drums), Wayne Deadder (bass), John Findlay (guitar) and Jesse O’Brien (piano/Wurlitzer/organ) plus a four piece horn section, percussionist and a supremely talented background vocalist in Quisha Wint.  Oh … and by the way … the songs are all originals and all well-suited to the “soul showband” feel of the CD … and I mean that in a really complimentary way… as this band is hot.


The set opens with “Daddy’s Little Girl”, a slab of horn-fuelled, soul infused R&B that showcases the power of Max’s vocals replete with bone-shaking piano and tremendous trombone from Gord Myers.  “Heading Back To You” is a great piece of Memphis soul with more fine horns and featuring a hot duet between Max and Wint – “Too Many Fish” is a churning horn-fired R&B number with Max’s menacing vocals echoed by a pulsing guitar riff – whilst “I’m In Trouble” is “rollin’n’tumblin’” rhythm’n’soul blues replete with baying horns, lonesome trumpet and percolating organ.


There is a smoky late-night feel to “That’s It I Quit”” that is accentuated by trumpet and trombone - “Waiting On You” is churning R&B with horn charts that remind me of the riffs they used to play when the Indians were approaching in those old Western movies I used to watch back in the ‘50s – whilst “She’s Not The Marrying Kind” is a slow grooving R&B stomper.


Add in the wistful, yet subtly funky, jazz inflected “It’s A Long Road” and the moody “Song Of New York” and you have a set that will appeal to soul and R&B lovers alike.  

Rating 8

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Blues Blast Magazine - Ian Mackenzie

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..

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Mladen Loncar, Blues For You - Radio Krizevci , Croatia


On the blues scene for more than 15 years, and have so far released 4 studio albums. They are The Johnny Max Band , and before you respected visitors 'Blues Corner' is their new, fifth album in a row Its A Long Road , which is 2010. The publishing house has published Pour Soul Records .

The Johnny Max Band, led by 'frontman' &  band singer Johnny Max has more than 15 years delighting Blues fans of his music - his blues, which is an impressive blend of Muscle Shoals / Stax soul, traditional Chicago blues band, but it still adds a touch of jazz and of course infectious rhythm R'n'B.

During his career, The Johnny Max Band attracted the attention of audiences wherever they perform. The previous record activity is not negligible. I'm probably one of the few in this region, which has all four albums (Long Gone Train, 2002., In the Doghouse ... Again! 2003, Ride and Roll, 2005, A Lesson I've Learned, 2007., plus this last studio album It's A Long Road, 2010.) and to accompany them for over 8 years. Accordingly, free to draw parallels to this band really did a lot to get to the current status, which is on the Canadian blues scene, having come from Toronto .

It's A Long Road” band members: Johnny Max - vocals, Jesse O'Brien - keyboards, John Findlay - guitar & backing vocals, Vince Maccarone - drums & percussion and Wayne Deadder - bass and backing vocals. This team were joined by guests: Quisha Wint - backing vocals, Paul Ormandy - percussion, Johnny Johnson - tenor, baritone and soprano saxophones and woodwind arrangements. In addition, there are Steve Crowe & Kevin Turcotte - trumpet, Gord Myers - trombone and all together they drew in the audience and music critics, once again confirming that The Johnny Max Band is on the right path. This is why the last 2010th The were nominated for 3 Maple Blues Awards as follows: The drummer was nominated Vince Maccarone, while John Johnson - was nominated as Best Instrumentalist when it comes to saxophone.

Their magnificent music show their real face on this very last studio album and is in the best light. It's A Long Road for me is an excellent example of how to approach and present the music you love, live and create. Many of promoting unknown artists all blame others for their 'failures' but at least you are to blame other people. If something is good, if something is true if you live for something, sooner or later will open up some options, which again should be used and thus to cross the border, from complete anonymity to the full affirmation. The Johnny Max Band are to achieve their music and I believe they are well aware of that today.

Johnny Max is still working as a DJ (in his show Sunday Morning Soul, Learn more at: in parallel but also for many years in order to build his professional career musicians. His talent, effort and work are met and that moment when I can freely say that they are substantially and globally managed ... Today there are few who can say, especially on a global scale.

The Johnny Max Band had great musicians as a kind of cartridges, they are trained, created, recorded and performed, so that more people have heard their music, their blues, so it would at the end of this whole story recorded, It's A Long Road which are actually paved the way for a full and hopefully global prominence.

I know the hardest to decide on new names, but rest assured, everyone is so one either, so please give this band a chance and try to get their last studio album It's A Long Road. The Johnny Max Band will not disappoint!

Nashville Blues Society - Sheryl & Don Crow




Johnny Max is a Scottish-born Canadian with a big vocal sound and a quick wit who firmly believes that there's more to leading a band than just playing the music.  For Johnny, getting the audience involved is just as important, and that's where his sense of humor comes in.  And, you can hear his wit in the lyrics of the original tunes on his latest release, "It's A Long Road."  This one is steeped in the traditions of horn-heavy bands such as Southside Johnny and the Asbury jukes, and has that vintage Stax feel in many of the cuts. 


Joining Johnny on this set are a stellar group of musicians.  Vince Maccarrone is on drums, Wayne Deadder is on bass, John Findlay is on guitar, and Jessie O'Brien is on keys.  They start things off with the second-line patterns of "Daddy's Little Girl," and keep that Mardi Gras feel goin' on with "I'm In Trouble."  A classic kiss-off tale, "She Don't Love Me Anymore," features a sweet piano and guitar solo at the bridge.  And, the set closes with the brooding, topical tale of the prejudices of the world today, "You Tell Me." 


We had two favorites, too.   A lover stuck in a relationship full of shattered dreams will, hopefully, "One Day" find the courage to break it off.  And, the jazz-tinged "Song Of New York" is a story of the seamier side of the city, one you "won't see in Annie Hall."


According to Johnny Max, "it's all blues," and he calls his style of music one that you can "move your groove to!"  Grab a copy of "It's A Long road" and enjoy it for yourself!!  Until next time....Sheryl and Don Crow.


#6 The Johnny Max Band – “It’s A Long Road”


Terry Parsons, Host – Blind Lemon Blues, CHMR FM, St John’s , NF,

What a powerful and excellent album, Johnny !!!  Good blues and soulful pieces of R&B.  Congratulations !!


Francis Rateau,  Le Blues Café, W3 Blues radio,

Received your new CD

There has really been some great stuff coming out of Canada lately

Anyway, you are the man! So much good stuff it’s hard to narrow it down and choose what to play

Will start with “One Day”, “I’m in Trouble”, and “It’s A Long Road”

Greg Demko - KRZA FM

November 28, 2010       


Review for Ottawa Blues Society Winter 2011 OBScene


“It’s A Long Road” 

Johnny Max Band

2010 Pour Soul Records


Reviewed by James Doran


Anyone who has ever seen Johnny Max (aka Johnny McAneney) 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.  

Johnny Max Band It’s A Long Road Pour Soul

Maple Blues Magazine, Dec 2010

John Valenteyn “Let The Good Times Roll” CIUT FM


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. This CD should have been available already but manufacturing delays have held things up. Go to to find out the latest news and to get your copy if you can’t get to the live show.

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Blue Underground Network - 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...

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

The Province, November 13, 2010 - Tom Harrison


A blues band with a pronounced New Orleans debt, judging by its shuffling rhythms and the over all bon temps roulez feel of tracks such as the Huey 'Piano' Smith-like "Daddy's Little Girl" or "One Day" or rumba rhythm of "I'm in Trouble."  Then there is the brass arrangement of "Heading Back to You," which is more into Otis Redding territory or the Hooker boogie of "Too Many Fish."  So, the band might go in several directions but it has a steady anchor.  Grade: B

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Le Net Blues - Réjean Nadon


Johnny Max un énergique bluesman qui nous rend régulièrement visite surtout en période de festival d’été, nous présente son 5e album. Généreux sur scène tout comme sur CD, harmonies vocales, sections cuivres, percussions, guitares slides, piano, B3 couvert de performances débordantes et de multiple arrangements musicaux. Tout comme le titre IT’S A LONG ROAD, Johnny en a fait du chemin. Un parcours tissé de grands événements et de nombreuses nominations tel qu’Artiste de l’Année au Maple Blues Award 2011. 


Ce nouvel opus comprend 12 titres originaux dont les auteurs Vince Maccarone, Wayne Deadder et John Findley sont également musiciens, un vrai groupe quoi !  À la première pièce, DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL (Mc Aneney – O’Brien) on nous installe bien confortablement dans l'ambiance de musique d’un grand orchestre, sans oublier une guitare bien électrique avec un son un peu sale, qui nous ramène sur les terres du blues.


Délicieuse cette 3e pièce, SHE DON’T LOVE ME ANYMORE (Deadder – Findlay – Maccarone – McAneney) une musique lounge avec piano, guitare et sa voix éraillée et jazzy de Johnny Max qui ne ferme pas de porte aux autres styles et cousines de la musique bleu. Le voyage se poursuit avec SONG OF NEW YORK (Deadder) ballet sur caisse claire, cuivres, son de guitare électro-acoustique sur un air idéal. On tombe dans le baril du blues/rock avec TOO MANY FISH (Deadder) une pièce électrique dont George Thorogood aurait peut-être aimé composer. Je vous laisse le reste de l’album à découvrir, chaque pièce a sa place, aucune n’est sur le cd simplement pour étirer le minutage. Bravo Johnny Max Band, un exemple parfait d’un bassin musical pan-canadien de grand talent qui se mérite une place à l’international.

Max hosts Christmas party - Mississauga News - November 30, 2010 - Mike Beggs


With his fifth record, It’s A Long Road, nominated for three Maple Blues Awards including Entertainer of the Year – including Entertainer of the Year – Mississauga singer Johnny Max hosts his second annual Christmas party at The Harp this Saturday.  And he hopes to prove the album title true, by touring further a field.  
“I want to travel,” he says, over coffee. “There’s more to Canada than southern Ontario. And this CD is getting some good responses in the U.S. and Europe.”  Stylistically, it’s an extension of his previous (Juno-nominated) A Lesson I’ve Learned, with swampy N’Awlins grooves coloured by sweet B3 organ, barrelhouse piano, roadhouse guitar, a full horn section and, of course, Max’s trademark wit. He still falls back on the blues clichés in places, but elsewhere he stretches out, reminding favourably of Tom Waits on the lilting Song Of New York.

And this disc has more of a band feel, with the material co-written and co-produced by Max and bandmates Vince Maccarone (drums), Wayne Deadder (bass) and John Findlay (guitar). It was recorded at the local Metalworks Studio and mixed and mastered by Nick Blagona (The Police, Cat Stevens, etc.).  “We decided to go a bit bigger on the production,” Max says. “I guess it’s more soul, more of the '70s FM radio I grew up on – Stax, Leon Russell and Joe Cocker.”  At this point, Max fronts four different bands, promotes concerts, hosts an internet radio show (Sunday Morning Soul, on The Haze FM in Mississauga), paints houses and refs hockey games to keep the bills hounds off his back.

“This is the Canadian music industry. You’ve got to do something else,” he muses. “I can show you Juno-nominated dog walkers.”   The amiable father of two laments that, “There’s no organic music on the radio (any more).  “It’s all electronic, it’s all samples. It’s a sad, sad thing. It’s a producer’s game.”  


The party kicks off at 4 p.m. at The Harp, 55 Lakeshore Rd. E., with performances by both the Johnny Max Band and Johnny Max & The Heart Attacks.  Admission is free, but they’re requesting a $5 donation to the Sleeping Children Around The World charity.

Slipping out of darkness: shining light on the Summit

Written by Eric Thom January 2009

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.

Niagara Blues and Jazz Fest, Welland, On, September, 2007


....never having seen Johnny before, it was a revelation!  Great funky blues originals & the odd cover including a great fresh take on Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me”. Much to my surprise, former Fathead guitarist Teddy Leonard was in the band.  Teddy is my favourite Canadian all round blues & r ‘n b guitarist & he is a perfect addition to Max’s sound.  Johnny Max is one dancin’ fool & plays dance-a-matic music which again is based on the early 60’s r ‘n b evolving to soul sound especially the early Toronto soul sound.  The crowd loved it and hit the dance floor.  Funky blues & r ‘n b was the order of the day. 


Doug Carter, Hamilton

Johnny Max Band
Pour Soul Records


Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)


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.

Johnny Max Band
Pour Soul Records


Reviewed by James Doran


What do you get when you cross a slightly mad Scots / Irishman with a guy who grew up in Etobicoke in the late 60s/70s listening to blues, pop, soul, rock ‘n roll and R&B?  You get Johnny Max (aka McAneney), that’s what.  Anyone who has seen this man play LIVE – or listened to his weekly Sunday Night Soul show on Toronto’s AM 1430 – knows how much he loves his music.  When you see the Johnny Max Band perform it’s the full Monty – great sound from a tight, veteran backline supporting Johnny’s powerful vocals sung with passion and feeling – combined with a non-stop blast of jokes and impersonations (Sean Connery especially).  It makes for a very entertaining night.  If there’s another blues band out there that has as much fun as these guys – and gets the crowd feeling exactly the same way – please tell me!


“A Lesson I’ve Learned” is the 4th album for the Johnny Max Band over the 12 years of their career.  Not to take anything away from the others, but this one is unquestionably the best for my money.  I think it’s a serious contender for Best Blues CD of the Year.  Whether it comes from the band being together longer, the improved songwriting, Johnny’s growing maturity on vocals, the addition of one of Toronto’s finest guitarists Teddy Leonard and the symbiosis he has with Martin Aucoin’s superb keyboards, the solid bottom end from Garth Vogan on bass and Duncan “Army Boots” McBain on drums – whatever, this band just keeps getting better!  I liked this album from start to finish beginning with the fun cover – a replica of the Hilroy Exercise Book older Ontario public school students will instantly recognize (Bored of Education, Borough of Etobicoke).  Johnny’s the kind of student the teachers must have hated but the rest of the class loved.


Eleven of the thirteen songs on “A Lesson I’ve Learned” are originals – mainly Aucoin/McAneney collaborations – which makes this album even more impressive.  Each one has its unique charm but my favourites are definitely:


‘Down in History’ – the opening track.  Talk about hot out of the gate, a powerful rockin’ blues tune featuring sweet guitar from teddy, lovely runs on the piano by Martin and powerful singing by Johnny with whimsical lyrics about getting cleared out by his ex.


‘Banks of the Credit (The Mississauga Delta)’ – a bouncy strutter with a New Orleans feel that opens with a Keith Richards-like guitar riff by Teddy and just rolls on from there.


‘Greezin’ – Johnny’s vocals are perfect on this instrumental!  The B3 by Martin is complimented so nicely by Teddy’s jazz tone guitar – a ‘sail on’ tune perfect for a sunny day out on the boat.


‘Jack & Jill’ – a delightful swing, bebop finer-poppin’ tune in the style of Louis Jordan that made me think of the late, great Dutch Mason.


‘Big Ol’ Girls Need Some Lovin’ Too!’ – a funky, bouncy tribute to the larger members of the opposite sex featuring naughty lyrics by Johnny and nice riffs by all members of the band, especially Garth on bass.


‘Why I Sing the Blues’ – a well-done version of the B.B. King classic – one of my favourites – that honours the original, yet has a distinct Johnny Max feel to it.  Once again the musicianship from all members of the band is superb.


In all, a first-class production from one of Canada’s best and hardest working blues bands.  These guys play all over Ontario on a regular basis so watch the blues news for when they’re in a town near you and go see ‘em.  And pick up the CD – it’s the best way to ‘learn your lesson’!


James Doran,

Ottawa Blues Society Magazine

Johnny Max Band
Pour Soul Records


Johnny Max has delivered something special on his "A Lesson I've Learned"  release.  The theme he has chosen resonates throughout the album and he lays it all on the table for us to experience his stories that he tells you about him and his life and draws you in with his soulful rich vocals.  He has some of the best blues musicians in Canada in his band. You mix this talent with Johnny's energy, stir in his voice and a dash of the sparkling lyrics and you have a blend of blues and soul music that tastes just right. And that's a fact.  This album definitely deserves a Maple Blues nomination or two! Aucoin and McAneney (Johnny Max) have crafted some great tunes and Johnny vocals are dynamic, rich and well performed.


My favourite is track #5 in which Johnny Max delivers one of the finest soul-gospel renditions you could ask for in "Write Your Name". This is a brilliantly written song and fits the vocal style of Maxie boy "fo' sho" and I can almost hear Ray Charles wishing he was around to be able to do this number himself. Beautiful piece of work boys. Well done! Teddy Leonard's guitar playing on this tune is sweet indeed and he is absolutely superb throughout the entire album.  Aucoin's piano playing is magical and at times absolutely stunning. His grasp of the many facets of keyboard performance throughout the album displays a wealth of experience and insight that few players have mastered as well as he has.


The Rhythm Section of Guitarist Teddy Leonard, Bassist Garth Vogan and percussionist Duncan McBain coupled with Johnny's wonderful singing and Aucoins mastery at the Keyboard is surely going to have this cd spinning for some time to come.


 **** out of 5

Bryon Tosoff
Voodoohead Productions

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

A nice, joyful good album that singer and percussion player Johnny Max brings us, offering thirteen songs that move among blues, rhythm and blues, southern swamp and soul. The supporting band give a passionate work that never sounds monotonous and in fact they create a solid basis to make Johnny enjoy with his natural and specially convincing sense of humour on custom made songs where he gives us the best of himself. You will find Martin Alex Aucoin on keyboards, Teddy Leonard on guitar, Garth Vogan on bass and Duncan McBain on drums. An album that, as Max says, is like an exercise book Johnny Max has learned by heart. GREAT.

 Vincente "Harmonica" Zumel

Le Hora del Blues, Spain


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?

"There's no question that A Lesson I've Learned represents swampy blues and R & B at its finest and many of our blues listeners certainly agree."


Eric Cohen
WAER Radio
Syracuse, NY

Johnny Max Band "A Lesson I've Learned" (*** 1/2). Max delivers blue-eyed Soul singing with a slight Southern drawl (but he's from way up North!) atop an eclectic mélange of Soul, Blues, Jazz, Rock flavors. Max on vocals, Martin Alex Aucoin on keys, Teddy Leonard on guitars, Garth Vogan on bass and Duncan McBain on drums morph from Booker T & The MGs ("Greezin'") to Delbert McClinton ("Down In History") with ease. The title cut is a superb midtempo Soul coaster with a familiar melody (but I can't place it) that sorta reminds me of another great song that deserved more attention (Larry Garner's "When The Blues Turn Black"). The bar band boogies "We're Gonna Do It (All Night Long)" and "Jack & Jill" are fun lighthearted fluff and Don Covay's "Have Mercy" is convincing laidback Soul

From Blues Review, issue 110 (Feb/Mar 2008)

Tom Hyslop

"A Lesson I've Learned" (Pour Soul 0023) begins generically but hits its stride after a few songs with the title track (gorgeous Southern R&B), "Write Your Name" (soulful piano based slow blues), "It's Not My Fault" (funky soul stew) and "If That Ain't True" (New Orleans Rumba-blues), all ideal launching pads for Johnny Max's warm, Levon Helm-esque vocals. The Jumping "Jack & Jill" and a cover of Don Covay's "Have Mercy" are other high points. With secret weapon Martin Aucoin (keys) and the understated guitar of Teddy Leonard, The Johnny Max Band is one tough soul outfit.


Johnny Max Band

By John Taylor


Given they amount to little more than a few grams of aluminum and plastic, it’s astonishing just how much personality certain CD’s contain.   Case in point, “A Lesson I’ve Learned,” the fourth effort from a newly-revamped Johnny Max Band.


Max, a veteran who’s kicked around Toronto’s club scene for years, delivers a passionate mix of blues and soul that virtually defines what a great bar band should sound like.  From the open salvo of “Down In History,” a rollicking romp that borrows from the Delbert McClinton school of roadhouse R&B, to the funked-up final notes of “Why I Sing The Blues,” one of only two covers here, Max and company stomp through a set that fairly bursts with energy, enthusiasm, and personality aplenty.

Keyboard master Martin Aucoin accounts for the bulk of the songwriting (with help on most from co-writer John McAneney, aka Mr. Max himself).  Influences are obvious on occasion, but that’s all part of the fun – the song structures may be familiar, but Max and company put their individual stamp on every note here.  Tunes range from the jaunty party groove of “We’re Gonna Do It (All Night Long)” to the wry and resigned wisdom of “(You’re) A Lesson I’ve Learned.”  “Banks Of The Credit” proves the mud in the Mississauga Delta oozes just as much funk as that of the Mississippi, while “Greezin’” is a breezy instrumental that provides a bit of mid-set-mellow before the energy level gets cranked up again with the pure rock ‘n’ roll of “Jack And Jill”.  The boys do a bang-up job on Don Covay’s “Have Mercy”, and tackle the irresistibly catchy “Big Ol’ Girls Need Some Lovin’ Too” with tongue firmly in cheek.

Production is stellar, the sound clean and crisp yet retaining an organic feel that hints at largely live-in-the-studio performances.  Max delivers his lines with gruff, blue-eyed soul and Aucoin, whether on B3, Wurlitzer, or piano, is nothing short of brilliant throughout.  Guitarist Teddy Leonard is equally adept at stinging rhythmic stabs and clean, uncluttered leads, and the rhythm section of drummer Duncan McBain and bassist Garth Vogan provide a rock-solid foundation built on obviously intuitive interplay.

If slick and commercial is your bag you’d do better elsewhere.  But if you like your music with high spirits, sweaty honesty, and lots of personality – the kind where you can actually hear real people having fun making music together – this disc is an absolute gem.


Highly recommended!

Johnny Max Band
Pour Soul Records

“Johnny Max is a very talented singer and shares a radio show on Sunday nights. Johnny could make a dog laugh. He's one of the funniest people I know. He has a huge voice and strong stage presence. He also coaches hockey and helps under privileged youth. He was born in Scotland, and lives in Etobicoke, ON.. I played with him recently.” -- Terry Blankley

The Johnny Max Band comes to us out of southern Ontario, bringing with them a blues sound that has one foot solidly set in the rock genre, and the other in the traditions of the blues. From the opening Down In History you get the feeling these guys would be a great blues bar band on those nights you really want to party. You get that party feel just from the piano work of Martin Alex Aucoin on the song.

Johnny Max is the vocalist here, and offers up a smokey voice that has some miles on it, making it almost ideal for this boogie blues effort.

A Lesson I've Learned is Johnny Max's fourth recording, and you get the feeling he has learned his lessons well, at least in terms of his music. The CD cover has the look of a school notebook, with a few doodles of musicians and instruments, like a kid dreaming of the stage. Well Johnny Max has made it to the stage and learned his trade well. This CD has a workmanlike feel, blues from a band used to going bar to bar performing for the love of the music.

If you need a blues fix to lift your spirits, well get to the doctor and request 100 c.c.s of A Lesson I've Learned, cause this is the cure.

Songs such as the title cut, We're Gonna To Do It (All Night Long), Big Ol' Girls Need Some Lovin' Too, and Why I Sing the Blues ... for Joe, are what this CD is all about. Blues with soul, for the fun and love of playing.

You just know Johnny Max would be playing for free if he had too, and may well be buried with a microphone in his hand and a sound track in the coffin, so that he's ready to play for all the old friends he may meet along the way.


Johnny Max Band's New Groove
Every Moment Like Recess on A Lesson I've Learned
Press Release by: Gary Tate


An essential Soul/Blues singer, Johnny Max is an integral part of a Golden Horseshoe music scene stretching from St. Catharines to Toronto. He should be making international waves soon in light of his latest superb release “A Lesson I’ve Learned”.


It’s been 7 years since this reviewer first encountered Johnny with then partner-in-crime Kevin Higgins.  Johnny has recently summoned forth a new aggregation lead by keyboardist extraordinaire Martin Aucoin and bravura guitarist Teddy Leonard. To their credit, they wasted no time heading toward the studio to lay down 13 tracks sanctified by boss songwriting, cool arrangements, and contagious grooves.


 JM’s ebullient and boisterous voice is in fine fettle throughout as he whips up soulful helpings of Memphis stew of the Stax/Volt mode, with some noticeable New Orleans tidbits tastefully thrown in.


There’s good reason why Johnny’s original tunes have that polished feel to them. He’s been deeply immersed in Soul, R&B, Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll R&B since he was a young ‘un, and takes rightful pride in his comprehensive collection of vinyl. Folks in these parts respect Johnny’s tastes and his long-running Sunday Night Soul show is an automatic turn on.


“Down In History” announces the Max/Aucoin composing team is gonna be a source of ear-pleasing nutrients for years to come.  It’s actually about the eternal battle of the sexes with an incredibly catchy “down-down-down” chorus refrain. His flock will also be singing along with “We’re Gonna Do It (All Night Long)”, as much for its   funky groove as those suggestive lyrics. 


The title track is a knockout with its Sam and Dave-type vibe. Back in 1968, this type of song would have garnered tons of radio airplay. “Write Your Name” will tear at your heartstrings with Johnny’s wining ways with a deep soul ballad in full display. “Greezin” is a soulfully jazzy instrumental where Martin stretches out, and evokes fond memories of Booker T. & the MGs.


“Jack & Jill” is an adult nursery rhyme that bounces and swings like mad. I rank it with anything Louis Prima did in his prime.  Everyone aged 3 to 80 will be prancing around the stage like Dancin’ With The Stars wannabes as soon as Johnny starts belting it out.


Toss in a couple of rock-solid covers like Don Covay’s “Have Mercy” and B.B. King’s “Why I Sing The Blues” and it’s apparent that Johnny has learned more than a lesson. He’s become the coolest teacher who makes every moment feel like recess.


A. Grigg - Real Blues Magazine 

If I had my own Record Label/Artist Management Company The Johnny Max Band would be one of the very first acts I’d try to sign.  Here’s a band that plays the bars in Southern Ontario dispensing The Blue Collar Blues to a rabid following and one can’t help but think aloud “The World needs to hear these guys…”.  Johnny and his band mates have a mission and a message and it’s basically the same as Hound Dog Taylor’s i.e. “Have some fun ‘cause when you’re dead you’re done…”  They dispense Blues as a soul-fixin’ remedy and connect with The People in a way all bands should.  I’m told that Max Band gigs are a wonderful experience with many conversions to The Cause and they have very, very, very few serious competitors in Eastern Canada.  Only a few artists really understand that it’s all about giving your audience a Big Present and that Present is the Joy Factor.  One must be dedicated to making others happy and realizing that the rewards that come from that are priceless.  If you can make a living from doing this than so much the better.  The Johnny Max Band exudes these three principles and the numbers of satisfied fans keep growing.  2005’s album “Ride And Roll” was more of a down-home Blues feel, while “A Lesson I’ve Learned” has a Southern Rock/Blues identity.  There have been some major personnel changes to the band with Teddy Leonard handling guitar now and Garth Vogan on bass.  Martin Aucoin, one of Canada’s finest pianists (it seems that Southern, Ont. is the ‘factory’ for pianists raised on Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and mentored by Stan Szelest) has a spot on the bench, as he did on “Ride And Roll”, Duncan McBain has been on drums for both albums and, of course, big-voiced Johnny Max is frontman with his very pleasing-on-ears vocals.  Johnny and Martin have really evolved into one of the finest song writing teams in North America, with 11 of the 13 tracks original and most being standouts, as well as jointly producing this new album.  If someone had told me that “A Lesson I’ve Learned”, “Write Your Name” or “It’s Not My Fault” were written by John Hiatt or Delbert McClinton I’d have no problem believing it. 


The disc opens with “Down In History” and it’s a perfect introduction (the very important first track is something that surprisingly not everybody gets…) and the tandem of Teddy Leonard’s soul-drenched guitar and Marty’s rockin’ piano/organ makes for a real Hot song foundation.  It’s a wonderful sound that nobody else comes close to and I admit I’m a sucker for piano as a lead or co-lead instrument.  Both Teddy and Marty are long-time Toronto music scene vets who are at their creative peaks and the rock solid rhythm section is one of the best.  Also, Johnny’s great pipes are going to surprise the uninitiated.  Track #2 furthers the realization that this is one great outfit.  “Banks Of The Credit” will strike a chord in any/all Mississauga refugees who partied on Ontario’s prettiest river from Belfountain to Lake Ontario.  Wonderful lyrics and guitar work that sounds like it was nurtured in Georgia/Alabama anchored by Duncan’s talented stick work.  Another superb tune.  “We’re Gonna Do It (All Night Long)” has Shag Hit written all over it and with an infectious chorus and sometimes naughty lyrics I can picture “We’re Gonna…” hitting #1 on Carolina Radio and that’s a Big Deal (for those of you poor souls who don’t know about the Carolina Shag/Beach Music Scene I’d suggest you Google: “Myrtle Beach Shag Fessa Hook” and delve into the greatest Blues-based music scene in North America).  Marty and Johnny have got a knock-out combination in the song writing department and “A Lesson I’ve Learned” would be a Hit in Commercial North American Radio if it was still open to Indie. music the way it used to be.  It’s a beautiful song with lots of potential and “Write Your Name” is a Ray Charles-styled Love Ballad that adds further proof.  “If That Ain’t True” has a New Orleans flavor thanks to Marty’s Art Neville-sounding piano work and that infectious shuffle-rhumba laid down by the band.  “It’s Not My Fault” (Track #7) is a funky toe-tapper with some cool Hammond organ and more proof that this may be the Best Band in all of Canada.  “Greezin’” is a Funk/Jazz vehicle that shows off Teddy’s and Marty’s talents and it’s propelled by nice percussion.  (It’d be a better World if every band had a Hammond, Farfisa or even a Fender Rhodes…).  Teddy’s got restraint that makes every note burst with power and identity.  The only cover is a fine take on Don Covay’s “Have Mercy”.  “Big Ol’ Girls Need Some Lovin’ Too” is a snappy ode to females who eclipse their male counterparts in strength and lovin’ ability.  Nice organ-work and a beat that’ll keep the feet going, which, of course, makes it a Shag Market potential.  “Why I Sing The Blues” is a song by B.B. King that no one should attempt (at least in the same arrangement) and these guys pull-off what countless others have failed at.  They give it some added spice in the percussion dept. and funky piano while keeping the throbbing bass line.  A Nice Gospel-style piano break gives this tune even more of a new identity and they score bonus points for invention.  So, I realized by track #8 or #9 that this CD already had more to offer in terms of Great Music/Song writing than virtually any other Canadian release and by album’s end it’s evident that The Johnny Max Band is the Best Band working in Canada right now.  Heck, they could even win respect in Nashville, Austin and Portland, Oregon and on that note; a 5-Bottle rating is more than fitting.  Boy do we need music like this in 2007!  Thanks guys!

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)

John Valenteyn TBS/Maple Blues


Johnny Max Band A Lesson I've Learned Pour Soul


With his various projects and his radio show (on commercial radio!), Johnny Max has become a mainstay of the west end blues scene. This CD shows why. This is the quintet band, with Max on vocals, Martin Alex Aucoin on keys, Teddy Leonard on guitars, Garth Vogan on bass and Duncan McBain on drums. The material is a delightful mix of blues and R&B, just like his show. We get a couple of blues before we get to the R&B and the title song. The original songs are by Martin Alex Aucoin and Johnny Max and I hope they keep the partnership going. Aucoin's own CD is reviewed further down but his contribution here shows a thorough knowledge of blues and R&B forms. Max's lyrics, especially about is own part of town are unmatched anywhere. "Banks of the Credit (The Mississauga Delta)" is all the evidence I need. His singing now shows a remarkable resemblance to that of Watermelon Slim and on some songs may well be better! "(You're) A Lesson I've Learned" deserves to be the title of this one. It's classic R&B, the kind you would've cranked up the car radio each time it came on (and I hope you do that still). You may have thought that songs like this weren't written anymore. The new arrangement of Don Covay's "Have Mercy" will make you sit up and take notice too. "Going Down Standing Up", credited to Aucoin, is another stunner, with some amazing guitar work from Teddy Leonard. Get this one soon. gives you several options and it'll fill you in on some of his other projects too.

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


Danny Brooks - His House Records

Johnny Max Band A Lesson I've Learned


Yeah Johnny! This is a great cd with performances to match and you're as comfortable singing these songs as my favorite old well worn jean jacket fits.  Great vocals Johnny, you remind me of the late great Tony Flame.  Don't get me wrong, you've got your own voice, but there are similarities.


I'm going to listen again, but first impression is you've really got something special happening on this record!

Jeremiah Sutherland from -



Johnny Max's last release was 2005's blockbuster "Ride And Roll". Never one to sit on his laurels, Johnny is back with "A Lesson I've Learned". Most of the tunes have been penned jointly by Johnny and keyboard master Martin Aucoin, making this more of a homegrown, Canadian contribution to the Blues oeuvre than Johnny has released in the past. All in all, another amazing outing from a Canadian Blues legend.

The Johnny Max Band  put more passion into a performance than anyone has a right to expect.

John Taylor, independent reviewer

If there’s another blues band out there that has as much fun as these guys – and gets the crowd feeling exactly the same way-please tell me!!


James Doran, Promoter, Blues on The Rideau

By Rockin The Blues


Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gents, ’cuz Johnny Max is gonna take you on some wild rides!

His vocal engine’s revved and ready to impress on the barrelhousin’ strut of the band’s original “Please Don’t Go”, ignited to the max by Kevin Higgins’ guitar, Duncan McBain’s drumkit, Uli Bohnet’s bass guitar and Martin Aucoin’s keyboard.

Moving right along, we shuffle off to Johnny and Kevin’s “Brown’s Line” (an actual west-end location in Toronto, Ontario) before putting pedal to the metal on the manic title track, composed by the legendary Brownie McGee.

Strangely enough, the pace then slows right down to sail through the beautifully dramatic “Angel of Mercy”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such abject poverty expressed so eloquently. The track was composed by Homer Banks and Raymond Jackson and covered by Albert King and Ms. Frankye Kelly (the latter in a more jazzed-up vein).

That one’s followed by a catchy rhythm and blues original called “Whatcha Gonna Do” and then the gears are switched completely by a traditional acoustic gospel spiritual called “Walking in Jerusalem”.

Johnny Max (a.k.a. John McAneney) injects a lot of vocal soul into the otherwise guitar-funky “Long Gone Train”, another of his and Kevin’s collaborations about living for the present.

Martin Aucoin gets to noodle creatively on another original, “I Heard a Rumour”, whose basic melody and rhythm lines seem influenced by John Lee Hooker.

Next comes one of my favourites, “[My Baby’s] Mad at Me”, a mid-tempo swing shuffle. Actually, that’s something I like about the Johnny Max Band – there’s nothing too fast and nothing too slow. It’s all very relaxed but musically interesting at the same time.

My all-time favourite is the big blues swagger of Bukka White’s “Shake ’Em Down” – ooh, is that hot or what? A perfect pairing of piano and slide guitar tailor-made for exotic dancing, whether you’re a pro at it or not. While I dug Robert Plant’s vocal interpretation, this one is more sensual than tormented.

Big-city meets suburbia in “Mimico Bus”, a funky blues-rock mix that could thumb its nose at Golden Earring’s classic theme song, “Radar Love”.

I got another exquisite slide guitar fix on “Junko Partner” (a.k.a. Junco Partner), an apparently very popular song by (producer) Bobby Shad and the Badmen that has been covered by the likes of James Booker, Mike Bloomfield, the Derek Trucks Band and, perhaps most appropriately, Carlos Del Junco. Nice military touch on the drums during the outro.

The last official song (yet another excellent original) is “I Like Women”, a solid, bouncy little head-boppin’ funkster that would catch the ear of anyone lucky enough to hear this cranking out the windows of a souped-up T-Bird (as opposed to the dirty old station wagon on the CD cover).

The musical ride eases to a smooth stop with an uncredited, a cappella gospel chant sung by Johnny (with clapping accompaniment) probably known as “True Religion”.

Erstwhile music performer (bass, guitar, vocals) Alec Fraser has scored yet another production coup with the Johnny Max Band’s Ride and Roll. Add it to your own collection of favourites.

By Rockin The Blues


When Johnny Max sings that he’s “in the doghouse”, backed by the furious guitar work of Kevin Higgins, you can be pretty sure he ain’t jiving you. You’d think a blues song like that would be arranged in a real slow and mournful manner, but Johnny is one of those curious blues musicians who prefers to masquerade sadness and misery with a false expression of happiness (so as not to upset the “massa”, or “missus” in this case).

Even when covering C. Kenner and Dave Bartholomew’s “Sick & Tired (of fooling around with you)”, the upbeat rhumba rhythm expresses a joyfulness in declaring his liberation from the object of his annoyance. Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne guests on piano on this one track.

Lowell Fulson’s “Black Nights” gets into a true-blue mode, a la John Mayall, with some sizzling keyboards by Michael Fonfara, and Howlin’ Wolf is given a more than decent tribute on “Rockin’ Daddy”, care of renowned drummer Bob Vespaziani and lesser-known, but no less talented, bassist Bill Keeley.

Kevin Higgins occasional trades in his electric guitar for acoustic and resophonic ones, especially on the traditional Appalachian arrangement of Mississippi John Hurt’s “C.C. Rider/My Creole Belle”, which perfectly suits Johnny’s thick-as-molasses vocals.

Like most blues acts in Toronto, there are two sets of players in the Johnny Max Band – those who play the grueling live circuit and the session musicians who deliver the goods on the recordings. Kevin Higgins is a mainstay of either team, as his songwriting skills, in collaboration with J. McAneney, are also put to great use on this CD, notably on “City Boy” and “Poor” (both of which any Torontonian could relate to). The other touring band members in the Johnny Max Band are Duncan McBain (drummer), Uli Bohnet (bass) and Martin Aucoin (keys), all accomplished players in their own right.

Speaking of great songwriters, Johnny also covers Merle Haggard’s “Working Man Blues”, Franklin & Franklin’s “Baby, Baby, Baby” (which was ultimately out of his vocal range) and an exciting slide guitar treatment of Danny Brooks’ “Carolina Shine”, with Danny himself providing backing vocals.

Joe Lee (Big Joe) Williams’s barrelhousin’ crossroads shuffle, “Highway 49”, features a raucous, rip-roaring slide guitar, making for an excellent finale on this self-produced disc, mastered by Andy Krehm.

Other than the individual (and necessarily small-print) dedications by each of the players, the CD sleeve (no name given) wishes God’s blessing “to those who have inspired, conspired, perspired, transpired and expired playing their music and in the process passed on their love…to the purveyors of the rhythm.” Sounds like something Arlo (or maybe even his daddy, Woody) Guthrie might have said.

by Cindy McLeod

Johnny Max Band - Ride and Roll

The Johnny Max Band hit the nail on the head with their 2005 release ”Ride and Roll”, one fired up straight-to-the-top boogie blues CD. Thirteen tunes packed into one near-hour of groove, these tracks are laid down by some of the best in blues.

A gumbo of traditional Chicago blues, classic R&B, and soul, delivered with a raw yet keenly polished sound, Ride and Roll is expertly produced from a live off-the-floor studio session.

Singer and bandleader Max injects an explosion of energy into the ensemble, with Kevin Higgins (guitar), Uli Bohnet (bass), Duncan McBain (drums) Martin Aucoin (keyboards), and Alec Fraser (vocal) creating the powerhouse, unified backup. The six-piece band kicks out rock solid feels, afinely tuned sound, and beefy vocals, with Max’s enigmatic voice the catalyst. The sign of great musicianship, the Johnny Max Band makes a big statement in simple, clear tones… the message is the medium.

Feels range from the southern swamp boogie shuffle and grunge guitar of “Brown’s Line”, to the swing blues ballad “Angel of Mercy” with its electrifying Hammond intro and great interplay between vocalist Max and guitarist Higgins. “Walkin’ in Jerusalem” offers a soulful slide guitar and moving vocal accompanied by foot stomps, handclaps, and great backup vocals to enliven this traditional spiritual. The group injects a little humour into their music, bringing light to their mix with “Mad at Me”, a drivin’ boogie-blues, and groove with a capital G to their “I Like Women”. “Junko Partner” funkifies with its killer feel laid down from the outset by drummer Duncan McBain, who opens the tune, and thickens to a juicy stew with Bohnet’s bass, who turns in a fine performance throughout.

Ride and Roll promises just that, an exhilarating rush of great music… recommended. - Spain

Johnny Max Band - Ride and Roll

"Here comes a right passionate blues and boogie exposition. The Johnny Max Band really know what they are doing, With a strong dose of emotional feeling and a forceful performing, the band gives us thirteen beautiful songs. Guitar, bass, vocals, piano and drums perfectly match with an amazing ‘savoir faire’ that immediately moves you with such a feeling that exceeds the limits blues listeners are normally used to. This Canadian band is one of my favourite in the last months, because they easily connect with the audience with an skilful powerful straight performing. This is their third cd and let’s hope it will not be the last one because audiences need such kind of bands to discover and enjoy real blues as the one they perform, giving to blues the lively suitable high place they deserve. GREAT."

Real Blues Magazine

Johnny Max Band - Ride and Roll
By Andy Grigg

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.

Blues & Co. Magazine, France

Johnny Max Band - Ride and Roll
By Marc Loison

This group from Ontario has shared the stage with the likes of Mel Brown, David Rotundo, Downchild, Jeff Healy and Jack de Keyser. Not all youngsters, in Johnny Max's band!! A true experience with contributions from "biggies" like (Snooky Pryor, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, A.C. Reed, Little Mack Simmons....) and the playful spirit with which guitarist Kevin Higgins plays, for whom "less is more". Without delay, let's discover this very friendly group. "Please don't go", with the rock'n'rollish, deep confident voice of Johnny Max, the first clean range entry.....Then it's "Brown's line", imposing with its syncopated rythm remeniscent of a Paul Butterfield Blues band of the 70's. We already are aware, by now, that we are not dealing with just any Canadian group. Produced by Alec Fraser, this 13 piece 'enjoyment', abounds with good ideas. Brownie McGuee's "Ride & Roll", largely re-worked & fast, rocks!! The piece "a pompes", knee wrecker, provider of an amazing chorus, rock riffs with ravaging slides....After this, who would expect a re-doing of "Angel of Mercy" popularized by Albert King? The counter-points of a fluid guitar smoothly ties in with the theme that we discover with pleasure.... We think of Son Seals in the vocal treatment...........Why not a good old Soul song next? "Watcha gonna do" convinces us: Johnny Max's band has 'more than one string in his bow' and it works wonderfully... What a treat, this keyboard part by Martin Aucoin, a little sweet slide on a cool background tempo, a soft touch, an agile foot with "Walking in Jerusalem". A bit more old-school soul?? A good slice of "Long gone train" will do the trick.

Let's continue listening.......with good low-down blues, definitely enthralling: "I heard a rumour". The perfect bass playing of Uli Bonnet, the mastered talent of Duncan McBain on drums and the down-home piano style is in perfect sync. Suddenly, a lighter range; "Mad at me" with its clear and haunting riff, sometimes interrupted by a flourish of notes.....a good piece and good for dancing thanks to a roaring and generous walking-double bass. Next comes "Shake 'em down", another medium-slow piece sometimes with a finger slide to interrupt the rythmics. The masculin voice of Johnny Max does wonders on it.........And now, for my favourite piece: "Mimico bus", soulful, just what you need, a guitar riff that 'tickles' everything it finds, exciting organ flares and a nice low, rythmic, needed, rythm & blues on drums. the foot! Too bad, however for this 'chuntee' ending......'Junko partner", in a lazy tempo, brings back memories of slide roots, playing on the bottom of empty cases. We end with "I like women" a very soulful, kinda sixties style; I especially like the singing that is almost like "preacher talking". A hidden title awaits the listener of the 13th piece: foot-stomp and singers only conclude this album in a spiritual way with surprising variety and maturity....the Johnny Max band, blending many styles and making it their very own throughout the C.D.

Ride & Roll is a guaranteed 'good buy' with no let-down and a beautiful discovery, proof of the vitality of the Canadian market.

Toronto Blues Society Magazine May 2005

Johnny Max Band - Ride and Roll
By John Valentyn

This band gets better and better! With Kevin Higgins on guitars and a new rhythm section of Uli Bohnet on basses and Duncan McBain on drums and Martin Aucoin on keys, Mr. McAneney turns in a nicely varied program of originals and covers. The title song is the Brownie McGhee tune electrified and taken at a breakneck pace - an appropriate choice for a title. There are other fine examples of re-arranging other people's songs to make them your own: Albert King's "Angel of Mercy" and Bukka White's "Shake `Em On Down" to mention two. Their own, though, shine as well: "Brown's Line" and "Mimico Bus" leave no doubt as to the west end home of this outfit. Higgins continues to shine on guitar, impressing with his choices no matter the style of music. There are a couple of soul songs in the mix here that put one of our better vocalists in a different light: "Watcha Gonna Do" and "Long Gone Train". He too handles the challenge with ease. "I Heard a Rumour" is a strong band original built on Howling Wolf's `44' riff and the New Orleans standard"Junko Partner" is taken at such a slow tempo you'll hardly recognize it. It works, though. A hidden track features a strong gospel vocal from Johnny. This is another masterful Liquid Sound production. If you need a reason to visit the west end, this is it. Check the listings and head out! Failing that you can go

Roots Music Report
Johnny Max Band "Ride and Roll"
Rating : 5 stars

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.

Johnny Max Band "Ride and Roll"
Poor Soul Records 2005, Produced by Alec Fraser
Bear Claw's Blues Picks 2005
By Bear Claw Bob

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.

Johnny Max Band – Ride And Roll – JMB0022
Reviewed by: John Taylor Email:

In a celebrity-obsessed world conditioned to expect slick production, the term ‘bar band’ has developed an almost derogatory connotation. But blues and rock ‘n’ roll are best served up sweaty and close, and if your tastes run to the righteously raucous and real, Johnny Max and friends have achieved the near-impossible – a disc that sounds like there’s a real, live band in the room.

Johnny Max leads one of Toronto’s busiest bands, a thoroughly professional outfit that cranks out lean, muscular music night after night, ‘til it’s as natural (and as necessary) as breathing. Guitarist Kevin Higgins is a quite simply a marvel. Never one to waste a note, he crunches out chunky rhythms and tears out slashing leads with equal authority, his thick tone and the sheer power of his playing irresistibly propulsive. The rhythm section, bassist Uli Bohnet and drummer Duncan McBain, are equally powerful but exhibit the kind of supple ease that comes only with countless nights on stage, ‘til they literally begin to play as one. Martin Aucoin alternates between sparkling piano and moody B3, both his fills and his leads adding immeasurably to the music’s urgency.

And then there’s Johnny. His is one of those voices that combine grit and gravel with a soulful smoothness, and somehow he manages to exude a passionate intensity with an almost laconic assurance. He makes it all seem easy and natural, yet a careful listen reveals a singer with an intuitive sense of dramatic delivery.

The playlist is primarily original, with the bulk courtesy of Higgins and cowriter J. McAneney. They’re tough roadhouse rockers that borrow freely from blues, R&B, and flat-out rock ‘n’ roll, the kinds of songs that fuel delirious dancing, and every one’s an economical gem. Covers include Brownie McGhee’s “Ride And Roll,” the starkly spooky “Walking In Jerusalem,” a grinding ”Shake ‘Em On Down,” and “Junko Partner,” with its Memphis-meets-New Orleans groove.

Again, if your idea of either rock ‘n’ roll or blues involves stadiums, elaborate light shows, or makeup, this one’s probably not for you. But if you believe music should be honest and real, played by people to whom it’s as vital as air, this one’s as good as it gets.

Highly recommended!

by Gary Tate

Ride & Roll, the exceptional new release by the Johnny Max Band, is their most fully realized one to date. There are powerful performances and great material galore that’ll hook the most jaundiced listener from the get-go. Part of the credit is due to the live-off-the-floor production at Liquid Studios in Toronto, giving everything a spontaneous, immediate feel. Johnny Max & Company ride and roll their way toward an explosive 13-track set, one that’s deliciously raw and always fun to listen to. A smokin’ mixture of hard-edged Blues, Stax/Volt-saturated Soul, and classic Rhythm ‘n’ Blues. Johnny M’s facility for uncovering the quirkiness in everyday situations is evident in such endearing delicacies as Brown’s Line and Mimico Bus. Topicality, colourful imagery, and delightful insights, meaning they’ll gladden the hearts of the most cynical among us. The wistful I Like Women may offend some, but that’s just the way it is with Johnny, whenever he puts on his witty raconteur hat. He’s incapable of playing it safe. And when Johnny’s hearty, full-throated tenor and Kevin Higgins’ intense and searing guitar accelerate into high gear--then fasten your seat belts folks. They pull out all the stops from their bag of tricks to induce a lump in the throat, or a tear in the eye. Especially on Albert King’s Angel Of Mercy, but also with Motherless Children, or the gospel-drenched Walking In Jerusalem. Other battle-scarred veterans of the Blues wars appear, including bassist Uli Bohnet, drummer Duncan McBain, and keyboard maestro Martin Aucoin. The other great news to report is that the song quality is singular; the new stuff carries as much weight and substance as the covers, starting off with Please Don’t Go which expands upon a familiar Blues idea, then re-shapes it into a grind ‘n’ boogie groove. Tough as well-aged leather! The title track is a “shake ‘n’ bake” number originally done by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee; it’s always been a perfect fit for Johnny & Kevin, an automatic favorite at the myriad clubs where the guys regularly hold court. Whatcha Gonna Do is a pure revelation, a huge leap forward in terms of raising the bar on what’s to be expected of their material. Long Gone Train is another stirring accomplishment, very reminiscent of the Stax/Volt soulful sides that used to regularly sail from the legendary Muscle Shoals studio. Mad At Me is another crackerjack of a song, a swinging tale of babe-induced aggravation. When the chorus chips in--henpecked guys the world over will want to wail along. Crazy yet cute! Shake ‘Em Down features Johnny at his suggestive best, a nifty shuffle featuring some deliciously greasy slide guitar work from Kevin. Nice foreplay before getting down to business! Ride & Roll is easily their most mature, confident, and accessible release ever. Their dedicated legion of fans, who’ve been following the guys since veteran primo guitarist Kevin Higgins and Blues/Soul preacher Johnny Max first crossed paths in various western Toronto oases, had an initial impression: that they were privy to one very special partnership. Well, Ride & Roll is the ultimate confirmation that they were right on the money. And it’ll rock your socks! Ride & Roll can be ordered via any of the following websites:;; You can also check out the Johnny Max radio program called Sunday Night Soul ( at 1430 on the AM dial. It’s on Sunday nights from 10 to 11 pm, and Johnny get to play all the sounds that have inspired him—current and past. So you’ll hear large doses of Blues, Soul, R&B, and basically anything that has formed the foundation underlying all the great music heard on Ride & Roll.

To-Nite Issue #255 May 1-7, 2002

Johnny Max is In The Doghouse Again..! -but no need to toss him a bone

by Gary Tate

I wouldn't want anyone to be consigned to the doghouse, but in the case of the new CD by the Johnny Max Band, In The Doghouse ... Again! I'll make an exception.

This band has become a fixture in the West End, at such oases as Timothy's Pub, J.R.'s Bar & Grill, P.K. Creek, and Touchdowns. I predicted big things for the guys when they started out; they possessed all the necessary tools to make substantial waves: excellent vocals, superior stage presence, charisma, substantial material, supremely tasty guitar work, and a rock-solid rhythm section. Include a gift for igniting a festive, house party atmosphere. Soulful vocalist and MC Johnny Max guarantees not a wasted moment: thanks to his self-deprecating sense of humour, a razor-sharp mind, plus a penchant for the unpredictable (and often the slightly bizarre). He's gotten his plaudits and kudos the old-fashioned way by earning them. Kevin Higgins, a guitarist of astonishing abilities, understands the difficulty of translating the dynamism of what's heard live to the confines of a studio. Blues acts in particular have been especially traumatized and intimidated by the recording experience. In The Doghouse Again..! managed to avoid these pitfalls by choosing a different tack altogether. The decision resulted in a sound that is warm, friendly, and completely their own. Kevin recorded all the band's tracks in his home basement by renting a 16-track portable studio, a decision I applaud. He also enlisted the services of two keyboard greats: Downchild's Michael Fonfara and the legendary Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, lending added rhythmic urgency to several of the 12 tracks.

The title track (Johnny and Kevin's' first original composition) has the hallmark of a perennial crowd favorite with its rumba-powered groove and some lowdown lyrics that harried hubbies can identify with. "Sick and Tired" is a jump boogie written by Chris Kenner and the sands of time has served it well. Johnny's phrasing captures the excitement of its driving beat; Kevin's guitar positively smokes, while those snappy putdowns of slovenly housewives are bang-on. Johnny's vivid and soulfully dramatic interpretation of the dark, brooding spirit inherent in Lowell Fulson's "Black Nights" is uncanny. Kevin's hypnotizing guitar fills add the precise sense of tension to this all-time Blues classic. Give one listen to the medley "C.C. Rider/My Creole Belle", and you'll immediately understand how proper justice has been given these acoustic Blues standards. A duo of Country-oriented offerings is also offered up. Merle Haggard's "Working Man Blues" is a timeless tome to the backbreaking spirit of the common working stiff. Special mention must also be given to "Carolina Shine"; a recent and remarkable Danny Brooks composition that sounds like it's been around forever (Danny's also featured on guest vocals). Kevin's virtuoso slide guitar is paramount on this track, and every bit as much so on "Highway 49", the Big Joe William's classic. Johnny's cool, confident, and assured vocals offer a brilliant counterpoint to Kevin's furious, jaw-dropping leads. Kevin and Johnny have a vast knowledge (and collection) of music at its quality best, so their past temerity in doing original material was a belief that it would become completely eclipsed by the brilliance of the surrounding fare. Their four compositions, however, are so full-bodied, well arranged, well-written, and so darn good, that this thought need never enter their minds again. "3 Ex-wives" is a hoot from beginning to end, a good-natured novelty item that sprung from Johnny's quirky imagination. But the piece de resistance has to be "Poor", a fully realized Blues burner that is eerily convincing; its foreboding lyrics and stunning guitar phrases ranking it with the best of them. Johhny, Kevin, bassist Bill Keeley, and new drummer, the veteran Bob Vespaziani (check Bob's formidable resume backing up the likes of Mark Stafford, Dave Rotundo, Little Bobby and the Jumpstarts, etc.) 
have fashioned a brilliant release that will only enhance their reputation.

Frankly, after listening to In The Doghouse...Again!, I can safely predict that the Johnny Max band's next set of lodgings will be in the penthouse. CD release is this Sat. May 4 at Timothy's.

Toronto Blues Society Magazine June 2002

The Johnny Max Band In the Doghouse…Again!
By John Valentyn

In my review of their first CD, Long Gone Train, I mentioned they were working on an album of new material. Well, it's not all new but it's welcome anyway, the title song alone making it worthwhile. Max is still in fine voice, with Kevin Higgins, ace guitarist; Bob Vespaziani, the new drummer and Bill Keeley, bass. Guesting on this self-produced CD are Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne and Michael Fonfara on piano for three songs. Other highlights include the acoustic John Hurt medley of "CC Rider/My Creole Belle" which shows Max can sing with less power; the original jump blues "3 Ex-wives"; "City Boy" (no country life for him); and Danny Brooks' "Carolina Shine" on which Danny helps out on vocals. There is a nice variety here and enthusiastic performances. Some of Max's vocals are too low in the mix but this is definitely a step in the right direction, bring on CD #3!

Toronto Blues Society Magazine January 2001

The Johnny Max Band Long Gone Train
By John Valentyn

The Johnny Max Band are Max on vocals, Kevin Higgins, guitars; Bill Keeley, bass and Eddie Dailide, drums. Kevin Higgins' name should be familiar to fans the Kendall-Wall Band, among others, and Keeley is a veteran of the David Wilcox and Morgan Davis bands. Their profile should rise quickly beyond the westend of Toronto because Max has one of the best blues voices I've heard in a long time. Paired with Higgins' highly-regarded and blessedly effects-free wizardry with the strings plus a fine rhythm section, this is a group to check out as soon as you can. The program is a mix of blues and soul songs with the highlights a rocking "Do The Do", "Jelly Roll/John The Revelator", an interesting version of "Looking Back" and the slow "Third Degree". They are hard at work on some songs of their own for the followup CD.

8th Annual Real Blues Magazine Awards

2001 Best Canadian Blues CDs (Canadian Artists)
#5 The Johnny Max Band Long Gone Train

2001 Top 10 Canadian Blues Guitarists
#7 Kevin Higgins (The Johnny Max Band)

Real Blues Magazine

The Johnny Max Band Long Gone Train
by AG

This blues band has become one of the most popular and respected Toronto bar bands in the last several years, and they have earned a reputation for being hard working, dependable, and very danceable. First glance at the CD cover may give one cause for concern regarding material selection ("Do The Do", "Third Degree", "Use Me" and several other well known standards). But everybody knows if you do something that's well known, do it in a way that no one's expecting and focus on creativity and imagination. That's exactly what we have here as guitar meister Kevin Higgins (a long time picker on the T.O. music scene and a great instructor) lends his talents to recreating most of the material in unique and enjoyable ways. Johnny Max is a fine sore throat styled vocalist with a Lazy Lester laconic delivery. "Long Gone Daddy", the old Hank Williams Sr. gets a nice treatment as Higgins shows his stuff (less is more school) on the guitar. The mix throughout (Kevin Higgins and Bill Keeley) is perfection (nice job guys!), and sound quality is crystal clear. I've had a lot of reports in the past regarding the entertainment this band has been providing to the 
Southern Ontario blues club/festival fans, and this recording certainly more than confirms everything we've heard. The live in the studio format (with some guitar overdubbing) gives an accurate indication of what the band is all about. One thing you've got to love about most blues acts/recordings: unlike most rock/pop artists, blues band can recreate their CDs on stage and there is little or no difference between CD and live performance. "Looking Back" (Don Nix / Leon Russell), is a great choice to cover and Max and Higgins both shine. Bassist Bill Keeley provides a throbbing bass (Fender Jazz Bass?) throughout and he and drummer Eddie Dailide work together in a way that suggests perfect harmony/communication combined with talent and lots of studying Chicago's finest drummer/bassist pairings (Below/Myers, Smith/Jones). If you're thinking about skipping the last two tracks, don't; there's enough fire and originality in both to bring life back to the dead. All in all, a very fine blue collar blues effort that stays totally true to the genre and represents this tough, little band quite accurately and honestly.

4 bottles for one of the best Canadian blues releases of the past couple of years.