Maxx Cabello Jr.

My dad brought one home one day, and then one day I just fell in love with it.

In the world of blues music and beyond, someone to be on the lookout for is Maxx Cabello Jr., a local musician who switches seamlessly between soulfully playing his guitar and rocking out on it. Currently traveling and playing shows with the likes of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Cabello remains true to his Bay Area roots as well, and attendees of the San Jose Jazz Festival may find him onstage.

When did you start playing music?
Music’s been in my family since I was born, everybody in my family told me to do it. So I’ll always have that, my early childhood was always surrounded by music. When I was growing up, I listened to a lot of Spanish music, but I was always exposed to rock and roll and things like that. My neighbor actually was a big blues guitar player, he lived right next door to me. Excellent guy, he kind of mentored me, growing up, in the guitar. But I didn’t really play guitar until I was, like, 15 years old. My first instrument was clarinet…and singing, but never guitar. My dad brought one home one day, and then one day I just fell in love with it.

What are you currently working on?
I’m traveling quite a bit, but right now my main focus is really trying to finish up my album and get my production together for this show I wanna put together.

Is this your first album?
I would say my first real, real, done-right album, because albums before were always rushed and always short, with a small little budget…whatever I could work with. But now it’s like all the years of trying to do something, you know, woodshedding and all that, it kinda makes sense now because this album just has a level, a whole other level. I’ve been writing stuff for more than seven years, but it just hasn’t made sense until recently. And the way the recordings have been coming out is amazing.

It’s called Love and War, and it was originally longer. Thirty-five songs is a lot of music to release at once. So to get some people to listen to it first, instead of blowing my whole wad at once, and not doing the other songs justice, I decided to cut it down to between 12 and 15.

What genre will it be? Will it be mostly blues as well?
It’s not gonna be blues at all. You can hear traces of my style, but this is completely different. I don’t know, it has a lot of Spanish [influence]—it’s like rock and roll and soul. It’s a mixture, a little taste of everything. That’s how I see it. It’s a little different…more defined as well.

Do you often play with the same musicians, whether in shows or in the studio?
I’ve always gone by my own name, just because bands always break up. You’ve got two kinds of musicians. There are the ones who love the work, but don’t have the experience. Then you have the type that are amazing musicians, they’re always working but that’s what they do, that’s all they do. They’re hired guns. With this album, I’ve used a lot a great musicians, but when it comes time for a show, it’s probably gonna be a really solid core of musicians just backing me.

Could you tell me some more about the production?
With the new album coming out, we’re working on this production of Love and War, which is a show, I mean a full-on show, with two 45-minute sets. One with “Love,” which is really soulful and R&B-ish. And the “War” part is pretty much straight-up rock and roll. We have some other styles too, but I’d rather let the listeners put a label on it than label it myself.

I love the blues. I grew up with the blues and that’s never going to change. But my new style of music is more of a maturing after all these years of being exposed to so many different styles of music. All the musicians that I’ve come across have…well, they mold you.

Written by Jonathan Keshishoglou
Photography by Stan Olszewski

This article originally appeared in Issue 6.4 Retro.
Issue 6.4 Retro

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