The Johnny Max Band and The Weber Brothers to Play McGillivray’s Landing

By Melanie Larson

While the Sleeping Giant Folk Music Society’s 2023–24 season may be nearing its end, this month’s performers show no signs of slowing things down. For The Johnny Max Band and The Weber Brothers, this tour, which will make a stop in Thunder Bay on April 6, is an opportunity to make up for lost time. And, as Ryan Weber enthusiastically raves, “We’re really looking forward to it, big time.”

Originally hailing from Baltimore, The Weber Brothers moved to southern Ontario in the late 1990s to audition for their idol, Ronnie Hawkins, and eventually join his legendary band, The Hawks. It was around this time that The Johnny Max Band’s frontman and namesake took notice of the gifted newcomers. “I first saw the Webers during a fundraiser in Weston when they first came here to Canada,” recalls Johnny Max. “As a radio host, I was always listening to and being sent new music, and so was able to keep tabs of sorts with [the] Webers.” 

Much like the Webers, The Johnny Max Band also got their start performing other artists’ music live. As Max explains, “The band has morphed from an obscure blues cover band in bars to playing more rhythm and blues-based originals, based more in New Orleanian and Memphis stylings than Chicago blues, at festivals all across Canada and Europe.” Now, with 22 albums between them, it is safe to say that both The Johnny Max Band and The Weber Brothers have solidified their respective reputations as bona fide songwriters. 

And yet, for all their similarities and crossed paths, audiences might be surprised to learn that this seamless collaboration was actually a long time in the making. “We had been planning to do something like this for a while,” explains Weber. “We did one on March 13, I think it was, in 2020. […] The very next day, lockdown went into effect.” With this unexpected four-year delay now behind them, The Johnny Max Band and The Weber Brothers can finally take their long-awaited double bill showcase on the road to Thunder Bay and beyond.

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