It is Sunday night at the Hurricane and Johnny Maddox and The Fantasy Band breaks into 'Just Like Me', a challenge to the crowd to get up and move. For years the clubs Sunday night jam has drawn musicians who want nothing more than to belt out some rock and blues tunes and trade some licks. But there is a difference lately. The musicians are coming together, inspired by a fistful of original songs penned by Marathon resident Johnny Maddox. Rumor has it something going on and they 're looking for bigger and better things to sink their chops into. Don't expect to see Johnny and His Fantasy Band Touring with Eric Clapton anytime soon -although that wouldn't bother Johnny. He's been peddling his debut CD and original songs from coast to coast with some pretty strong interest from people in the Biz. . 'If it is meant to be, it will be,' Maddox said. That's how this whole album and the Fantasy Band came together.' The album is a collection of rock and soul infused pop songs focused on the familiar themes of unrequited love, requited love, fantasy and DUI. Johnny lists contemporary bands and artists like Clapton, Creed, MatchBox 20, Joe Cocker and Tina Turner as some of his musical influences. ' Even country great like Hank Sr. & Jr., Garth and Dwight Yokem give him a thrill,' says Johnny. With these influences on the album, and the tone of the songs like 'Just Like Me' reflect that, if only vaguely. Most of the tunes like 'Sugar Cookie' and 'Hey Trooper Man' seem to owe more of a debt to the soul of music, the gritty country music of the Midwest, Motown and Memphis rock and roll. The cohesion of the band come from artist's giging and jamming together in one venue or another for years - 10 or 15 in some cases - allows Johnny and the band to run through the tunes real tight and switch up members with ease. John Bartus looms large on the music scene throughout the Florida Keys. Bartus inspired by Johnny's talent' both co-produced and performed on the album. When Bartus agreed to record Johnny over a year ago, 'he was won over by the presence and the appeal of Johnny's voice', Bartus said. Johnny's voice carries a gritty powerful style and charter that makes him stand out from the rest. A number called 'Goin' Back' swim's with emotion, and calls for the obligatory slow dance, or just a chance to sit back and think. The song showcases as well as any track on the album Johnny's vocal and songwriting ability. In all Artistic Fool is a must have CD for my box. Who know 's, their just might be a new shinning star in the sky's over the Florida Keys. By TRAVIS JAMES TRITTEN Free Press Staff Writer Former drummer or percussionist and backup vocalist from a host of bands nobody ever heard of, except maybe a few! For instance, the Belairs, McCoys, Us Too Group, Acuisticats, Surge, Brian Green and Austin White, to name a few. Johnny has a deep history as an entertainer dating back to childhood (singing old country ditties with his parents and some locals at Honky Tonks and taverns around Cincinnati). As a teen Johnny excelled as a drummer and was fortunate to perform with a few national acts, getting a taste of stardom. In his mid 20's while in New Orleans, Johnny experienced a good taste of jazz, blues and zydeco, and teamed with many local groups performing in and around the French Quarter, Fat City and regional festivals. New Orleans soon became too much fun for Johnny (the bars wouldn't close!), so family ties lead him to Jacksonville, the home of Southern Rock. Johnny made Jacksonville his home, becoming a successful contractor by day and part-time performer by night. The influences of the groups coming out of the region such as Skynyrd, 38 Special, Allman Brothers, Tom Petty and the likes, kept Johnny in the music scene on the local level. Here he focused his talent towards playing percussions, the hand tools, congas and such, and played with many well known regional acts, all along writing a few songs of his own. In 1992 Johnny became blessed and met Barbara, who soon became his wife and inspiration. He continued performing and writing songs of life. For most people life is fairly simple, and for others Johnny feels that life is Love, Blood, Sweat, Tears Cheers and Fears, to sum it up. That is what his songs are about. In 1998 while on vacation in the Florida Keys, Johnny and Barbara found a piece of Paradise. It was a small but beautiful resort and marina. Within a few months Johnny and Barbara's life had changed, they were now the new owners of Captain Pip's Marina & Hideaway in Marathon, Florida Keys. After a few months of settling into a whole new life and style, Johnny appeared at one of the local jam sessions, apparently making a very good impression! Johnny was surrounded by local players and was encouraged to come back. He was soon introduced to local radio personality and entertainer John Bartus, who was host of the Hurricane Jam. Bartus became a tremendous influence on Johnny, exclaiming 'finally there's someone around that can sing!'. Bartus, being a very accomplished guitarist and song writer with a state of the art recording studio in his home, encouraged Johhny to share his original songs with him. So here is where, after many years of trials and tribulations, tears and fears, love and fun, the Johnny Maddox Project began! Johnny performs regularly around Marathon and the Keys. The local venues are always eager to have him on stage to pack to the dance floor with his arrangements of hot covers and groovin' originals. Johnny recently appeared at a regional seafood festival that draws thousands of people. He closed the show leaving the fans screaming for another encore! Johnny now has his own band formed 'Johnny Maddox and the The Fantasy Band' with Musical Director John Bartus and the best players from the Florida Keys.
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