The Johnny Mac Band – Ace


New York City based four piece The Johnny Mac Band has established themselves as one of the most impressive recording and live acts in the NYC and East Coast area today. Their latest single “Ace”, the title track of their impending second album, serves notice that this is a band not content struggling along the margins of the indie music scene. Instead, they are obviously positioning themselves as a potential crossover act that can appeal to both young and older listeners alike. The band is, naturally, led by guitarist and singer Johnny Mac and is joined by bassist Dave Ice, keyboardist Joe Roberts, and drummer Ray Hauck. The musicians play with a natural facility and their styles naturally dovetail into one another without as much as a single stylistic hiccup. It’s no mean feat. It’s an example, perhaps the most telling, of the extent of The Johnny Mac Band’s talents.

It’s the guitar, above all else, that sells this song. Johnny Mac’s six string talents are likely enough to sell any musical package and a swaggering, slightly funk-a-fied track like “Ace” is ideal for showcasing his bluesy color. He shifts back and forth from straight ahead blues guitar into slide work with a skill level that few in the genre honestly posses – hence, why so many bands often work with two players rather than one. The slide grows in presence and ferocity the deeper into the song we go, but it consistently gives the song added character no matter what guise it takes. He has a distinctive style, but the influences that go into making a song like this have a lasting impact are so well incorporated into the overall fabric of the band’s presentation that we scarcely notice them. There’s no question, however, that Johnny Mac’s blues chops are first class.

His vocals aren’t too shabby either. He isn’t, like the best blues singers, a trained vocalist. He has such a strong connection with the music and form, however, that he’s developed a talent for getting underneath the skin of a particular track and invoking its potential with an appealing tone and high quality phrasing. It helps take relatively run of the mill lyrics, as well, and move them up several notches of impact. “Ace: explores some familiar territory, in regards to its imagery, but it’s a well established tradition in blues and other Americana forms that Johnny Mac makes work with skill and considerable charm alike. This New York City based outfit is doing this music the way it should be- with one eye on the past, one eye on the present, and a musical vision that’s looking forwards. They bring something of themselves to their songs and live performances, as well, and it’s strengths like these that place them among the forefront of live acts today. “Ace” wins on multiple levels and is sure to earn them a cadre of new fans and devotees.


David Shouse