The Johnny Mac Band – “ACE”


The Johnny Mac Band are from New York with a heavy Blues attitude to everything they touch. And touch on a lot more they do on the new CD, Ace. – The include band members Johnny Mac, a veteran of the New York circuit. Singing guitars and fiery solos bookend soulful voices supported by the rock-solid rhythm section of Joe Roberts on keyboards, Dave Ice on bass, and Raymond Hauck on drums. The band also features the vocal styles and guitar work of Mohair Sam Wylie, a 79, year old blues-man from Badin, North Carolina. They also feature excellent female backing vocals.

The CD kicks off with “Makin’ Changes” and if you listen up closely you can see why it’s the lead track because it’s one of the best of six out of the thirteen tracks on the full-length album. It’s not as good as previously heard instrumental stuff by them like “Porcupine Quills” but it’s a high standard Johnny Mac Band song and a lively way to open the CD anyway. The piano opening is very cool and it just never ceases to please from there. It lifts you up and makes you want to move, and that’s not even the half of it. It’s a just plain rocking opener.

If piano solos aren’t your thing, no worries, there’s plenty of everything from big guitars sounds to horns and second to none vocals to be heard on every note. “Soul Angel” is a smooth jazz wonder of a track with a feather-light magic to it. It’s a soft rock radio-friendly piece with a soulful singing quality that makes it one of the better tracks. But it depends on what about this album you like, because it also has the funk, R&B and Reggae combinations to go with it. It’s just that once you hear the guitar solo in this track, you know it’s primarily a Blues-driven band that just likes to mix it up.

The best thing about “Part Time Man” is the playing, because the subject matter doesn’t carry on about much of a nice guy. It sends a message to the skimmers of the world that time is money and anyone needs as much of it from their people as possible. But it’s nothing negative, it’s just a negative factor about the subject matter. It’s a killer track worth anyone’s time just the same. In-fact it’s one of the three best tracks to my ears. It plays on loop better than most of them, and that’s just one way to rate a good track these days with all the devices we use. This is a track that sticks though.

“5 Reasons To Leave” is good too but it drags on just a little and doesn’t quite meet the standard of “Waiting” which is another stellar track. There’s a few ballads, soft and hard on this album, and this is another one of those shining tracks. The guitar playing of Johnny Mac is one thing, and the vocals another, which both catch fire on this and burn like no tomorrow. And don’t miss the closing track “Groove Machine” because it plays outside the box with some wild effects to bring together a well-rounded Blues album that believes in coloring outside the lines to add another dimension or two to the Blues.


Randy Jones