The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

CONCERT: Max Weinberg returns to his rock and roll roots; performs at World Café Live


By Rob Nagy, For Digital First Media

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Celebrating more than four decades as the driving beat behind Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, drummer Max Weinberg is paying homage to the music that served as his musical inspiration.

Performing the great rock and roll songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Weinberg, who is coming off extensive touring with Springsteen, is taking center stage hitting the concert trail with Max Weinberg’s Jukebox.

“It’s about a two-hour show of music that I grew up with and felt particularly close,” said Weinberg, from his home in Florida. “Everything from The Beatles to the Stones, all the English Invasion. Bruce, Eagles, Chicago, some west coast stuff, you name it, we play it. We come out and play a couple of songs then put it out to the audience and they yell out their request. I go out into the audience with a microphone, ask them where they are from. What is the song they want to hear and why do they want to hear it? I’m kind of a combination of Dave Clark, from the Dave Clark 5 and Dick Clark from American Bandstand. I’m sort of the host, the drummer and the manager.”

“We are a four-piece band, guitars, bass and drums,” said Weinberg. “The three guys sing fantastically, it’s a fun night, it’s not serious at all. I’m not looking to break new ground. It is all about nostalgia to me, and playing these great songs that I learned how to play drums listening to and in some cases learned how to be a better drummer. Everybody seems to have story with the songs they pick. It’s not a concert, it’s a party.”

Playing smaller venues and clubs, Weinberg’s desire to play a fan friendly setting with lots of crown interaction is the goal.

“When I play with Bruce, whether it’s 20,000 seats or 125,000 seats he makes it intimate and has the unique ability to do that, I’ve never seen anything like it. Through the 43 years of playing with Bruce and the E Street Band a little bit of that rubs off. That’s what you hope to do, to get everybody involved in what we’re doing.”

“In this show that we’re doing, while they’re not originals, they are the best of the golden age of rock and roll,” Weinberg said. “I specialize in playing in venues that serve adult beverages because as I said, it’s a party that helps lubricate the proceedings, not too much and responsibly of course. Its very nature is nostalgic. There isn’t a song on our list of 400 songs that hasn’t stood the test of time.”

“The shows are going incredibly well,” he said. “Sometimes there will be a drummer in the audience who will ask to play and he’ll come up and play a song and there always seems to be somebody who wants to sing a Bruce Springsteen song. ‘Hey, can I come up and sing “Thunder Road”? ‘Yeah, come on up here.’ It’s very audience interactive. I’ve never seen anybody not participate.”

Following the departure of E Street Band drummers Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez and Ernest “Boom” Carter in the mid ‘70s, Weinberg answered an ad Springsteen had placed in the Village Voice looking for a replacement.

“To hook up with Bruce Springsteen and his band of merry men and women, that’s rare, that’s really rare,” said Weinberg. “In the 16 years I played drums before I met Bruce, in retrospect I guess everything I was doing on my own lead me to that meeting. He picked me from a lineup of 60 something guys.”

“I love playing in the E Street Band, but I also just love playing. It’s not for everybody you have to have a certain personality. The 22 hours a day when you’re on the road not playing, they say you get paid for the travel and you don’t get paid for the actual show, that’s why they call it playing.”

Immediately embraced as an integral member of the E Street Band following his hiring, Weinberg has played on many of the bands most commercially successful and coveted albums, a discography that includes “Born to Run” (1975), “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (1978), “The River” (1980), “Born in the USA” (1984) and “Tunnel of Love” (1987). Weinberg has also recorded with Carole King, Barbara Streisand, Southside Johnny, Gary U.S. Bonds and Meatloaf, among others.

Weinberg enjoyed a 17-year high profile tenure, over 4,000 TV broadcasts as the band leader and comedic sidekick for Conan O’Brien on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.”

“When you come up in the New Jersey bar scene and you play from 9 to 4 in the morning 6 nights a week, you got to know how to play everything,” says Weinberg. As a drummer, that’s what I did. I was a freelancer most of my life, ‘Yeah, I can play that. I know that song.’ Even if you didn’t you needed to pull it off. It was that ability that I had when I met Bruce and the E Street Band.”

Years of dedication to his craft paid off in 2014 when Weinberg and his fellow E Street Band mates were forever enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“It was a long time coming, I suppose,” said Weinberg. “It’s always nice to be recognized publicly. The actual event was really nice. My wife Becky, of almost 40 years, and my children were there and that was a chance, in 2½ minutes to sort of sum up a lot of the events in my life that people love you for. It was sort of sorrowful for us in the E Street Band that Clarence Clemons and Danny Ferderici couldn’t go on stage with us at that time since they had passed away. No one was more deserving to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than those two guys.”

“Looking back, we were largely fortunate, particularly with Bruce and the E Street Band,” said Weinberg. “Bruce was always so dedicated, and when you’re around somebody like that it rubs off. My life is playing the drums. It’s my musical passion, my occupation and sometimes my preoccupation. I’ve never really considered myself an artist. I try to approach what I do artfully but my strength has been interpreting what the artists I’ve worked with through my career want. I’m more like a carpenter. I’m more like a journeyman, in my view. I’ve always had an eye and an ear for excellence, not perfection, but excellence. Trying to be the best I could at any moment. It really is more of a craft than an approach, and my tools are my drum set.”

“I’ve been extremely fortunate,” Weinberg said. “When I look back and was a teenager I never thought I’d be 66, love playing the drums and love entertaining people and having people still want to hear me play. It’s a blessing and a gift that the audience has given me and continues to.”