Certain music genres in today’s music sculpture aren’t as appreciated as they should be. Blues and Reggae happen to be two of them, and The Johnny Mac Band plans on negating that concept with their awesome and amazing blend of both that they showcase in the studio and on stage. Hailing from my hood in Long Island, New York, The Johnny Mac Band’s eclectic mix of both genres of music has them set for some pretty big things in 2017, from shows to challenges, and everything in between.
I recently spoke with members of The Johnny Mac Band, many of whom are different age ranges, backgrounds and more, about how they came together, why they feel Blues & Reggae is not a dead genre at all, and their upcoming International Blues Challenge which they are favored to do quite well in. Check it out.
When did you guys form and what was the inspiration for doing the band?
Well, aside from the music itself, the truth of the matter is that nothing inspires and propels a project like having a gig on the books. Now I had been working with Mohair Sam Wylie in several projects going back to 1986. In June of 2012 when a last-minute gig came up, I suddenly discovered that no one I had expected to do the job with was available to play it. Fortunately, I was able to recruit two high school friends Dave Ice and Ray Hauck to play the date and the core of the band was formed right there and then. Joe Roberts, who we all had worked with in different settings over the years, joined the band last year as our fulltime keyboardist.
Do you find that blues & reggae is somewhat of a dead genre nowadays and isn’t appreciated?
Not at all…and far from it….
Reggae certainly has a hard-core niche constituency and without a doubt, there is a very large, active, and growing community of Blues enthusiasts. Just take a look at the number of shows, jams and open mic events that go on every day. The Johnny Mac Band currently plays between 4 and 6 shows a week. Then of course there are the Big Blues festivals that are very well attended each year. So there is work and a lot of support for the blues out there. Also, a hat tip should be given to people like Jim Koleman, Emily Hallock, Nan Siegler and so many others at The Long Island Blues Society who have done a terrific job in furthering interest and support for Blues music
Tell us about the upcoming International Blues Challenge. Is this your first time participating?
The International Blues Challenge is a world-class music showcase that takes place annually in Memphis. The event was created to spotlight up-and-coming talent and help them advance their musical careers and also features youth showcases, and daily workshops. Several locations in the Beale Street Historic District turn into music venues as talented bands, solo acts and duos from around the world bring their “A Game” to the stage. The Johnny Mac Band is deeply honored to have been chosen to represent Long Island for the second year in a row at the International Blues Challenge.
Do you have a dream act that you would love to perform with?
What I think would be fun is to have a series of guest artist concerts where we would feature guitarists and vocalists such as Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring and Eric Clapton. That would be a Dream.
What is your favorite song that you have recorded and why?
My personal favorite is a tune that I had written and the band recorded for our Destination Memphis CD called Sugar Girl. It is by far our most requested song and I just love the audience reaction whenever we perform it. Everyone gets up and sings along and dances. As a composer and a performer that sort of reception is truly gratifying.
Any upcoming show dates our readers can know about?
Well as I mentioned the band is playing between 4 and 6 shows per week. The full schedule is available on the events page at www.johnnymacband.com, as well as on The Johnny Mac Band Facebook Page. We also have a mailing list for anyone interested in receiving information about our upcoming shows by email.