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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Getting the MAX from SL's Live Music Scene: A Spotlight on Maximillion Keene- Sean Lerner Reporting...


I haven't been fully active in my Second Life for the past 6 or 7 years. Coming back into this world, I searched for something familiar to remind me of why I loved it here back then. For me that something familiar was always live music. There is no better way to get re-acclimated to SL's live music scene than catching a Maximillion "Max" Kleene show. He's a veteran performer in SL with the chops to prove it.

I'm sure this isn't the first time someone wrote a review of Max. He was performing in SL back when I was working the scene; and he can still crush it like he did back then. My intention is to write a critique from a fellow musician's point of view. In actuality, this is going to sound more like a fanboy blog post. That's not from a lack of objectivity, but rather from a string of nearly flawless performances.

It would be to easy to simply say Max plays cover songs. Although he doesn't write the songs he performs, he puts together arrangements with amazing artistry and craftsmanship. He performs every tune with such conviction and heart that each song becomes his own.

A song like "Closing Time" by Semisonic is practically standard issue for anyone playing cover songs. Despite the countless times I've heard this song performed in SL clubs and RL bars by every caliber of musician, Max makes it sound like the song was specifically written for him to play. His rendition even includes insights of lyrical analysis without ever missing a beat.

Max also played the Led Zepplin classic "Going to California." He masterfully captures Robert Plant's tenderness while adding his own vocal growl that projects and undeniable emotional connection to the song. The same could be said for his rendition of "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac. I will say that this song forces Max to push into the higher end of his vocal range. Even though I'd like to see his tweak the vocal arrangement just a touch, his guitar arrangement is so well crafted that it is hard to imagine the full band original.

His version of "Elanor Rigby" by the Beatles holds a special form of mastery. The original recording from Revolver was performed by a string quartet. Max has arranged the song for guitar in a way that not only captured the dark lyrics of the original, but also highlights the haunting loneliness through his steady strong strumming.


One more song from his set that I'd like to highlight is the 1961 Audry Hepburn hit "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (not to be confused by the Deep Blue Something song by the same name that Max also crushed the last time I saw him). The original version of the song feels to me like it was a holdover from the music of the late fifties. This could be due to covers by crooners like Frank Sinatra and jazz artists like Louis Armstrong. Max, on the other hand, has arranged this classic to feel like a contemporary hit. He uses a crooning style of his own without ever trying to oversell it or give it that old timey feel that has come to be expected with this song. 



visit his web site at http://www.vaesl.org or look for his group Rhythm Collective
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