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Thursday, 7 October, 2010 9:07 PM
Max Weinberg to perform at The Ark on Oct. 23; says goodbye to Conan
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Many people know Max Weinberg as the drummer in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. He was also the bandleader for Conan O'Brien on Late Night at 12:35 p.m. and The Tonight Show for his short run to 11:35 p.m. Weinberg formed his own Big Band, comprised of a 15-piece ensemble with 12 horns. He chose not to join Conan on his new TBS show, which is scheduled to begin on Nov. 8. Instead, Weinberg will be touring the country and will make a stop at The Ark on Oct. 23.
"I'm in New York City, looking forward to coming across to Ann Arbor," Weinberg said in an exclusive phone interview, "with my new swingin' Big Band. I hope everyone can come down that particular night. This is a 15-piece horn-based band, big swinging, muscular, fun time."
What is it like being the drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band?
"It's been my pleasure to play drums for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, this year, 2010, I'm entering my 36th year," he explained. "We did a lot of concerts in Michigan, mainly in Ann Arbor, we've played several times back in our earlier days. The first time we played our so-called Detroit medley was in Ann Arbor. I'm really glad to be bringing my own group back there to perform."
From 1993 to 2010, you were the bandleader for Conan O'Brien on his two late-night talk shows. What was that experience like?
"That was wonderful, 17 years of being on television and having a great time," Weinberg said. "Not only musically, but I got an opportunity to do all that comedy. That was something I didn't have much experience with, but I grew into it. One of the best elements of being on TV for 17 years was the fact that I was able to stay home and raise my children, who are now off on their own, which enables me to go back on the road and fulfill my self-imposed mandate to keep drumming and bring it to the people who are out there and nice enough to support my music and the music that I create with people for years and years. It's a great experience, wouldn't trade it in for the world."
He added: "Now I'm taking my band on the road, getting very up close and personal with people. We're playing small places. It's a show that you can take any age to. A grandparent could take their grandchildren. It's a instrumental band, high-energy, swing-style music. I wouldn't call it jazz. It's a fun night and I would encourage everyone to come down to the venue. We don't run out of there right away. I'll stay around and we can chat."
Why did you decide to go on the road instead of joining Conan on his new TBS late-night talk show?
"This big band that I have, again it's a 15-piece band, I started last year in Los Angeles and did some work with them," Weinberg explained. "And decided when I sort of took a different trail last winter to create an east coast version. That's what people are seeing. We've been on the road this summer for about a month. We're going yet again starting this week across the country for about five weeks. This is a natural progession. I wish all my former colleagues the best of luck with Conan's new show. There comes a time when two little gunslingers like Conan and I just sort of hit a trail. One guy goes left, one guy goes right, that's what occured here."
I noticed you performed earlier this summer in Lansing, Mich. What was that like?
"That's correct, we played at the East Lansing Jazz Festival," he said. "We were there, performed after Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. That's what we specialize in. Blowing into your town, having a good time, playing music that people can relate to and enjoy themselves without too much trouble. Then onto the next town."
Can you give us a preview of what you'll be performing on Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. at The Ark?
"We're going to be there with my big swinging big band," Weinberg explained. "Playing a cross-section of American music from TV scenes, we do a couple of Springsteen songs in a big band way. That's not karaoke. We do what I call songs from the great American songbook Frank Sinatra, Count Basie made famous. All with a high-energy, swinging, muscular approach. It's a fun night. It's for all ages. I'm inviting everyone who's in the area that night to come down and see what we have to offer."
You released a self-titled album in 2000. Are you working on a new record or still promoting that one?
"At the moment, I'm concentrating on my live performances, taking the music to the people," he said. "I do it in like four- to five-week segments and then take a lot of time off. I have a home in Europe and spend a month over there and got back yesterday. So I do it in little sections. It's a pleasure to talk to you. I hope everyone can come down and experience what we're doing. You won't see anything else like this."
For more information on Max Weinberg, visit his official website at www.maxweinberg.com.
Tickets are still available for Max Weinberg's performance at The Ark and are priced at $30 each. They can be purchased online by clicking here or in-person at The Ark, which is located at 316 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor, MI. For more information on The Ark, visit www.theark.org.
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