Rock On! Concerts Presents:
69 Kilmarnock Street
Boston, MA, 02215
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
Purveyors of a Genre and a Way of Life, Max Creek Celebrates Their Fortieth
They Made It Through the Seventies, and They're Still Going.
Max Creek is a living, breathing historical study in a hugely significant yet too-oft overlooked American subculture: the jam band. Later this month, Max Creek celebrates their fortieth anniversary with a small East Coast tour, hitting intimate venues in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York City.
Creek guesses they've performed nearly 3,000 times over their forty years together. They have set lists for 1,851 shows covering the 80s and 90s but there are more shows, both known and unknown, than set lists still exist for. As with most jam bands and their fans, the majority of the 70s are gone. (What does this mean?)
Their first concert as a band was in May 1971 at the Maple View Ballroom (later Woody's) in Washington, MA, a venue at that time owned by Arlo Guthrie. The next three decades were characterized by endless bouts of touring, especially the late 70s and 80s. At their peak in 1982, Creek played 241 live shows. A true jam band, Max Creek and its fans know that the truest experience is the live show. During their long history, they've played some out of this world shows in some out of this world venues, including the Elmcrest Psychiatric Institute in Portland, CT in 1978.
In the early years, Creek toured almost exclusively in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York. Their first ventures into northern New England (New Hampshire and Maine) took place in 1981, and in 1983 they hit the road and took to Philadelphia then back up north to Vermont. Throughout the 80s, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine became regular tour stops along with the old mid-Atlantic standbys.
In 1989, they tapped the Mason Dixon line, venturing south to Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and back to Pennsylvania, adding the Keystone State to their regular tour stops. In 1991 they took a lengthy "ski" trip, playing in mountain towns across Colorado, including Steamboat Springs, Aspen, and Telluride. Later during the 90's they went several times to "the Promised Land" - California, where they played at classic venues such as the Great American Music Hall and Maritime Hall. Perhaps as a result of many year of traveling, they stuck around the East Coast for the rest of the 90s, had families, and played shows pockmarked by occasional westward excursions including to Ohio, and back to Colorado and California.
After this many years, they might have showed some signs of slowing down, but not by much. Earlier in 2011, they produced and participated in January's Jungle Jam in Costa Rica with the Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann.
Seemingly unknown outside their home circuit of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, with smaller followings throughout New England (though their annual Camp Creek summer festival is a big crowd-pleaser), Max Creek has fans that have, over the years, spread out and settled in far-flung regions of the country. They have brought tapes, CD's and other recordings to spread the gospel of the band that had become so large a part of their lives. Also, the band has been pivotally influential on an entire generation of jam bands, and their sound has defined much of the genre as we know it today. Interestingly, Phish did a live cover of the Max Creek song: Back Porch Boogie.
About Phish's cover, Max Creek's Scott Murawski says, "Mike Gordon wanted to do the song which is an instrumental bluegrass song but he knew Trey wouldn't want to cover a Max Creek song so he told the band he wrote it and they performed it." Whether or not Phish will admit the relationship, when you listen to Phish, you can definitely hear the Max Creek influence.
In real life, the band members are a church musical director (Mark Mercier – keyboards), video and event company employee (John Rider – bass), a TV and audio technician (Scott Allshouse – drums), an ADP account manager (Greg Vasso – drums), and a computer programmer (Scott Murawski – guitar). But as playing together for forty years proves, at heart, they are all musicians, and an integral part of a thriving, if under-the-radar, subculture. More than a band, Max Creek has become a major part of the lives of many of its followers over the years, and, like some in the jam band scene, a social phenomenon as much as a musical entity. Many members of its long-time audience liken coming to Max Creek concerts after an absence to "coming back home for Thanksgiving". In the eyes of both the band and their fans, the existence of the band runs much deeper than the music.
Max Creek has never played without a rubber duck somewhere on stage, usually on the bass amp.
Glide Magazine writer Shane Handler got it right when he issued high praise for Max Creek saying "Bands like Phish, moe., Blues Traveler, the Disco Biscuits and others are the trees in Max Creek's seeds of a thriving Northeast music scene that encourages live risk taking on stage and playing according to the feel of the present moment."