Words & Photos by Greg Jacobs
Friday, February 3, 2017 – Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA
Jonny Two Bags stepped up to the microphone and declared it to be “friends and family night at Alex’s Bar,” and that he “grew up with everybody here tonight.” And it was true. I saw a lot of familiar faces, from old friends to some of Jonny’s band mates (past and present). To get formalities out of the way, Jonny’s been in a bunch of great bands. He was a founding member of The Cadillac Tramps, whose singer recently lost his battle to liver cancer. RIP Gabby, we love you brother. He’s been in Social Distortion for over 17 years and has played in several over bands throughout the years. Dude’s got a pedigree.
He’s also got a solo record called Salvation Town, which was the focus tonight. Switching from a classic Fender Telecaster to a well worn Gibson acoustic guitar reminiscent of Willie Nelson’s “Trigger,” Jonny and his band picked and strummed through most of the songs on Salvation Town. All of the songs have a very roots/country vibe and the setlist was crafted perfectly to bring the audience on board with the up tempo songs like “One Foot In The Gutter” and “Hope Dies Hard,” and feel the ballads like “Clay Wheels” among others. If you get the chance, go see Jonny Two Bags in any of his musical endeavors, you will not be disappointed.
Tonight was the debut show of The Wicked Wives. They feature Jenni McElrath and Beth Carmelli both on guitars and vocals and both formerly of LA band Red Five, with Matt Yansch holding down the rhythm duties on a cool stand-up drum kit. Alternating between electric and acoustic guitars allowed this punky-roots trio to control the tempo of the room with their tunes. They fit well on this bill and brought some added energy to the night.
Local surfboard shaper Dano Forte opened the show with his Juke Joint Freak Show. I’ve seen Dano Forte’s Juke Jont Freak show at art openings, punk rock shows and roots shows. He fits everywhere. He labels himself a “one man, swamp-style, rhythm and blues review” and I would only be doing an disservice if I tried to re-word what he has stated so perfectly. Imagine a dude from the 1940s sitting in a chair with a hollow body guitar on his shoulder, a harmonica on his neck and a percussion box at his feet and you’ll get the picture. Dano’s great and one day I hope to have one of his surfboards.
Jonny Two Bags
The Wicked Wives