THOUGH THE ONE-MAN BAND concept has been around as long as music itself, nobody has thrust it so far into the 21st century as Miami Max. Dressed in his Hawaiian shirt, broad-brimmed Panama hat and ever-present shades, Miami Max sits alone surrounded by stacks of state-of-the-art technology and plays his guitar.
But the music that comes out of his tiny speakers sounds like a rockin' eight-piece band and a trio of backup singers. It's a dazzling, mesmerizing display - drums. horns, keyboards, bass, strings, percussion and more - all MIDI'ed up to a central computer, and Max plays and sings along with this band of high-tech machinery. It took Max more than three years to program every lick and rim-shot in his 50-song repertoire. and it shows.
This is not some guy strumming along to a cheesy rhythm machine. Not some lame lounge act. Not some aloof demonstration of technology for technology's sake. The "band" rocks, the songs (from Chuck Berry to Ray Charles to the Beatles to Bob Seger) breathe, and Max instills them all (even Christopher Cross' wimpy "Ride Like the Wind") with a gritty. hard-blues edge that recalls Creedence Clearwater Revival or ZZ Top.
Miami Max holds court at the Downtown Athletic Club each Friday from 5 to 8 PM, and there's no cover charge or minimum. His last set usually turns into a jam session (Max also has programmed several generic blues jams), and last week musicians as diverse as guitarist Joe Farina, keyboardist Nat Williams and guitarist Bob Gori stepped up to join in the fun.
You should, too.
METROLAND - Albany, New York