REVIEW & VIDEO: Max Weinberg in NEO


REVIEW & VIDEO: Max Weinberg in NEO
Talks & Plays With Kent Stark Students


The Mighty Max Weinberg made a special visit to Northeast Ohio at the invitation of Kent State University Stark Campus, where he workshopped, then performed with Kent State jazz band students and took questions from a packed house at the Stark Campus’s University Center Timken Great Hall. The celebrated drummer with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and The Late Show With Conan O’Brien, felt right at home in NEO, and opened up on a surprising number of topics in his pre-concert press conference and post-concert Q&A. Video of his press conference remarks can be viewed here.

Drawing on his roots of early 1960’s Stax and R&B, and mixing in a few student-selected favorites, Weinberg led a 9-piece student ensemble he dubbed “The Max Weinberg 10” through a history lesson of early rock and roll, rhythm & blues and pop standards.



Alternating vocalists Mandy Dennis and Todd Archambault jumped on classics such as Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, Aretha Franklin’s Respect, and James Brown’s I Got You, while the instrumental arrangement of trumpet, sax and trombone, dubbed “The Horns of Love,” plus keys, bass and two guitars grooved along with Weinberg’s muscular, metronome-perfect time.

His pre-concert press conference was spent answering questions about his background and his passions. Taking the opportunity to promote arts education, and lamenting it’s de-funding in recent years, Weinberg talked about doing a benefit for his high school in New Jersey a few years ago when their arts and music programs were cut. The tone turned serious when he expressed his fears for the future of National Public Radio (NPR), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the funding for which is scheduled to be eliminated with the recent budget proposals in Congress. On a lighter note, he repeatedly mentioned how the Cleveland area was one of the first, and remains one of the strongest, bastions of support for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

After the concert, Weinberg told of his background, being influenced by both Elvis Presley and The Beatles’ appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He appeared in Cleveland at the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies to induct Elvis’ drummer D. J. Fontana, who Weinberg idolizes. Watch video of Max Weinberg on the Red Carpet at the 2009 Induction Ceremonies here.

Weinberg spent a lot of time talking eagerly of his own son, Jay Weinberg, who now plays and tours with the punk band Against Me. In 2009, Springsteen heard Jay Weinberg play and invited him to fill in for his father (who was readying plans for Conan’s debut on The Tonight Show) with the E Street Band, playing for hundreds of thousands of people and impressing fans and critics. His father Max was visibly proud.

One of his best stories was how he beat out 60 applicants for the drum seat with The E Street Band. He was playing Godspell on Broadway at the time, and, not wanting to schlep his entire drum set to the audition in New Jersey from Times Square, he instead only brought his snare, kick and hi-hat, which impressed The Boss, who had placed an ad in the Village Voice: “No junior Ginger Bakers…,” meaning Springsteen didn’t want a flashy drummer who played solos. More impressive was Weinberg’s ability to follow Springsteen’s athletic starts, stops and stage business while auditioning the Fats Domino classic Let The Four Winds Blow. When Springsteen threw out his arm, Weinberg delivered a rim shot, the only drummer to do so. He got the job, and they still perform together 37 years later.

Weinberg hinted that Springsteen might re-form the band at any time for a recording session and possible tour. His feeling? Late 2011 or early 2012: “Before the next election,” he allowed.

* Listen to the exclusive Cool Cleveland phone interview with Max Weinberg on 02.14.11 here

* Watch video of Max Weinberg on the Red Carpet at the 2009 Induction Ceremonies on 04.04.09 here

* Watch video of Max Weinberg’s press conference on 02.28.11 here.

Kent State University Stark’s Featured Speaker Series continues on Thu 4/14/11 with Jerome Ringo, speaking on The Green Economy and a Clean Energy Future, as part of the Stark County Entrepreneur Experience. Details on his appearance can be found here:, and more information about the upcoming Entrepreneur Experience can be found here:

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