(Jack Lehoux singing with his former Max Apple bandmates during his retirement celebration at Rockstar Music Hall in Windsor, Ontario on January 5, 2020. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
Not since 1979 has Max Apple been in the house. But Sunday, after a 50-year absence, they were live and personal and back on stage. This one-time bring them back together was their way of honouring Jack Lehoux, the man of honour at a retirement celebration at the RockStar Music Hall.
In the 1970s, the young Lehoux joined the popular Windsor rock band and never looked back in what has been a well-respected career behind the skins. The event was attended by almost all of the city’s most accomplished musicians and many of them took to the stage to do what they do best, rock the hall.
As the 1970s ended Max Apple folded. Then young drummer, the youngster in the group the audience was told, joined such groups as Still At Large, East Side Boys and most recently, The Source.
According to The Source bassist Nino Maniaci, the group has been playing locally for the past 26 years and over that time has had about 26 different members. They form a large nucleus of musicians who have played with Lehoux over the years. So, it is no wonder the RockStar stage was filled to the brim with all manner of pickers, drummers, singers and other music makers.
They were all there to properly honour Lehoux and celebrate his life of music before he trades his drumsticks in for a retirement that, as he told Eyes on Windsor, will largely consist of doing little.
Although he played his last sessions with The Source on Friday and Saturday, at Average Joes, he was coaxed to not only rejoin the band for a few numbers but also to take to the microphone and sing a song with what he called his peers from Max Apple.
But it wasn’t the number of musicians in the hall that made it such a spectacular afternoon. It was the quality. It exploded with some of the best performances all done with smiles. It was nothing if not an incredibly happy occasion.
That was particularly notable in the work of current The Source singer Candi Doherty. She brought her high voltage energy to the stage, matched only with the incredible singing prowess of former Source singer Jessica Loiselle. They sang solo and joined together in some bring the roof down duets. All of their singing backed by such seasoned musicians as guitarists Keith Harris and Greg Alzner with bassist Maniaci.
If nothing else The Source had set the afternoon in motion, a momentum that reached its peak when Angelo Alfini, Ron McMinn, Larry Poulin and Dave Lambert walked onto the stage, along with drummer Al Hughes, for an emotional return performance.
The reunion is somewhat of a trend in Windsor music circles. A few years ago its famed Tea Party reformed and went on a tour with a few Windsor performances. And Teaze, found its way back on stage locally last year.
Even more interesting is despite this being a ceremonial way to mark the end of a career, there were young musicians in the building ready to carry on. After only two months of serious drumming practice 14-year old Michael Alexander Schifanelli rocked AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. While he admitted to being a bit nervous surrounded by so much seasoned talent, the talent was watching intently, obviously impressed.
Later 11-year old Ava Schifanelli took to the stage in a solo performance, proving that the youth of Windsor are ready to move ahead musically. This didn’t surprise The Source’s guitar player Kevin Harris.
Harris is a local grade 5 music teacher and tells Eyes on Windsor there are 600 students currently enrolled in music lessons at Essex Public School. Lehoux himself has also been a teacher at LaSalle’s Makin’ Music Music School. The school was founded by Max Apple’s guitarist Ron McMinn. He told the audience that Lehoux is a rather good teacher. The proof, a number of his students are now working professionally.
Lehoux was presented with a number of retirement gifts including a hand-made jack-o-lantern by music fan Marie Johnson. Addressing the gathering, he talked of how appropriate it was to be at RockStar. When he young, his parents would bring him to the building, although back then it was called Club Alouette, for him to play drums. His parents were also musicians.
Reminiscing, he says in his career, “I’ve made a lot of people dance.” And they certainly were dancing on a snowy Sunday afternoon.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.