As I had mentioned in my introductory post back in June, I had the privilege of meeting Max Weinberg after a show with his jukebox back in March. I wanted to share my experience on here with you guys. I went to the show at Ram’s Head on stage in Annapolis. When I saw there was a meet and greet option for the show, I knew I had to take it. An opportunity to meet one of my musical heroes as easy as this was seldom to come along again. My mom, a fan since 1973, signed up for the package as well. Upon arriving, the opening act, Porter and Sayles, a folk duo were finishing up their set. I recommend looking them up. I unfortunately missed most of their performance because I was coming from work, but I liked what I heard.
“This is not a concert. This is a party!” Max had proclaimed at the beginning of the show. For those who haven’t been, these shows are not structured the same way a traditional concert is. A list of about 100 songs or so scrolls across a TV screen, and the audience shouts which ones they want to hear. The other 3 bands members were from a group called The Weeklings. Max encouraged us to take as many pictures we wanted (despite the no flash photography sign), and to just kick back and relax.
Songs played ranged from six Bruce songs, (Thunder Road, Pink Cadillac, Dancing in the Dark, She’s the One, and Glory Days), three from The Beatles, two from The Who, Tom Petty, The Eagles, and The Rolling Stones among others. Max’s daughter, Ally Rogan came out and sang 2 songs as well. My personal favorite song of the night was Wipeout, the song he used to audition for the E Street Band 45 years prior.
Interspersed with the songs, Max told us stories about his career. Like Bruce and many other of their generation, Max was heavily influenced by Elvis Presley, in particular his drummer, D.J. Fontana, who’s widow happened to be in the audience. The Beatlesiconic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 was also a defining moment in his life. The line of the night that got the biggest applause was “We don’t play for twenty minutes. That’s the Beatles! The Beatlesplayed for 20 minutes. I don’t know how they got away with it. Bruce Springsteen plays for four hours; the Beatles play for twenty minutes!” After an enjoyable 24 song set, those who had paid for the meet and greet package (about a dozen people) stayed in the venue while the room emptied out.
Everyone brought something different for him to sign. One person I saw brought a drum cymble, another brought a vinyl copy of Godspell, since Max had played in the pit band for the show. I overheard him say that no one has ever asked him to sign that before. I thought this was an interesting choice, considering he wasn’t on the album itself the person brought. I chose my vinyl copy of Born in the USA for him to sign since Bruce in his autobiography had said the title track was Max’s best studio performance. When I had brought my album after the show, he had asked me if I was even born when the album had come out . I explained the reason I chose this album for him to sign, and he noted that Bruce had once said he was the best thing on the record. “He never said that again” he jokingly replied. Max had said during the show that he has always liked this cover, because it’s the side of Bruce he usually sees during the show.
My mother chose a vinyl copy of Born to Run to sign. My mom and Max talked about being from Jersey and how she has been seeing Bruce and the band live since the Born to Run tour and has many great memories from shows over the years. She had asked if she knew when they were going on tour again, and he said he didn’t know for sure, but Bruce has gone on tour every presidential election year since 1976, so it was likely they’d be on the road in 2020.
Max purposely left a blank space on each album, so Bruce could sign it when we get the chance. He was very down to earth and easy to talk to. It was honestly one of the best nights of my life. Even though the meet and greet package cost more than twice of a regular ticket, it was worth every cent!