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‘Mighty’ Max Weinberg to bring his band to Maine this fall

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Max Weinberg. Max Weinberg. (photo courtesy www.maxweinberg.com)

The drummer Bruce Springsteen calls “the soul of dedication and commitment” is set to bring his 4-piece band, Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, to the Waterville Opera House for an evening of good time rock and roll classics on Saturday, October 5.

“It’s not a concert, it’s a party,” Weinberg tells The Maine Edge.

The powerhouse drummer that has served as the engine for Springsteen’s E Street Band since the fall of 1974, and also fueled The Max Weinberg 7 through 3,500 shows with Conan O’Brien, says he’s still a music fan at heart and is having the time of his life playing the music of his heroes with Max Weinberg’s Jukebox.

As the band’s name suggests, Max and his band perform a vast array of material, but unlike most concert events, this band relies on the audience to design the set-list.

Weinberg launched this unique interactive party/concert concept in the summer of 2017. The band’s itinerary this year will take them around the US and Canada and includes dates in Italy and Amsterdam.

“Mighty” Max Weinberg checked in with The Maine Edge to talk about why he loves playing with his band; why he encourages audiences to shoot photos and videos during his concerts and why fans of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are still “the greatest in the world.”

The Maine Edge: I love the concept of Max Weinberg’s Jukebox. The audience is treated to faithful versions of classic rock and roll songs delivered by a great band, with a lot of laughs thrown in.

Weinberg: We try to capture the original fun and arrangements from the recordings you know and love. The show consists of all audience requests from the 50s, 60s and 70s. From Chuck Berry to The Beatles and the English invasion to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. Of course, we have a nice smattering of Bruce in there too. It’s a revolving a screen of about 300 songs and I pick people from the audience to make requests. They raise their hands and tell us what they want to hear and why they want to hear it.

It’s very personal and intimate. I’ll tell stories from my career, but we’ll hear plenty of music. I’ve got three guys that sing like birds and play just incredibly – because you’re not going to come listen to me play “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” for an hour (laughs). I’ve got a great band around me.

The Maine Edge: I watched a bunch of fan-shot videos from past Jukebox concerts on YouTube and recognized some of the band members from The Weeklings. They’re outrageously good musicians.

Weinberg: I’ve known these guys forever. Glen Burtnick, Bob Burger and John Merjave are three quarters of The Weeklings. They’re a great power-pop band based around New York and New Jersey. Bob is actually a practicing attorney as well as being an incredible guitarist and singer. John Merjave is our lead guitarist and you’ve never heard anybody play like this.

We play such a broad range of music; from “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray to “Hang on Sloopy” by The McCoys, to Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels to Bob Seger. As one recent reviewer put it – “The musicians in Max Weinberg’s Jukebox play like men” and I like that. That’s not a sexist remark, it just means we’re serious about the music.

The Maine Edge: Regarding that massive song list, how did you decide which classic tunes would be in contention for Max Weinberg’s Jukebox?

Weinberg: I pick all of the music and my tastes are pretty eclectic. As a drummer, you need to be able to play whatever is in front of you. You may be better at one style over another, but you need to give everything a shot. That’s one of the reasons why I got with Bruce and the E Street Band – because I’m so versatile. My first love was Chuck Berry music, but I could play Dixieland or a little Latin or jazz – this was when I was a kid. That versatility was a bit of a hallmark for my drumming.

The Maine Edge: How do you feel about people taking photos or videos during one of your concerts?

Weinberg: I encourage it. At a lot of these theatres, photos and videos are expressly prohibited, but I come out and tell them that I expressly want them to shoot photos and videos. I want them to put them online and tag me at #MaxWeinberg and share the news with their friends. I like it when people take videos at the shows because it shows everybody how much fun we’re having. They don’t have to turn off their phones at these shows. They can record it and even call their friends from the show to ask why they’re not down there with us.

The Maine Edge: On your website, you offer fans the chance to meet you and to get an autograph and a photo after the show. Do you enjoy that interaction with your audience?

Weinberg: I love it. It’s one of my favorite parts of the night. People bring their old “Born to Run” or “Darkness on the Edge of Town” albums and I’m happy to sign them, take pictures with them and hear their stories. I’m a fan too. I’ll give you one example: If I’m around a Paul McCartney show, I’m like Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live when he interviewed Paul – “Remember when you were in The Beatles? That was awesome!’”

I appreciate that people have gone through so much to support Bruce and the E Street Band through the years. They’ve stayed dedicated and it’s given us the freedom to do a lot of different things.

They’ve given Bruce the opportunity to be a folk singer, a Broadway star and an author. Our thing is quality; as long as it’s quality, we’re going to do it. We have the greatest fans in the world and I enjoy meeting them.

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