Lucky 13: Jonathan ‘Jonny’ Louis, studio/touring drummer 

Jonathan “Jonny” Louis has been a rockin’ drummer in the Reno music scene for more than a decade. His tight groove and furious beats have helped him find gigs both in the studio and on the road; he plays for a number of local projects, like Acid Box and Frankly Fictitious, and has a solo career. Earlier this year, he released Power. Passion. Drums! a nine-track collection of rock jams that show off his drumming prowess. To listen, visit  

What was the first concert you attended? 

The band Boston at the Atlantis Casino with Michael Sweet of the band Stryper on vocals. He was filling in for the then-recently deceased Brad Delp. I was fortunate enough to be close to the front. A guitar pick from either Gary Pihl or Tom Scholz was tossed into the audience, picked up by a woman and given to me. I was about 12 at the time. I must have looked too young to be there. 

What was the first album you owned? 

Aside from my parents’ CD collection, I would say the first album I remember owning was either Boston’s Greatest Hits or Who’s Next (deluxe edition) by The Who. 

What bands are you listening to right now?  

I am currently listening to Dream Theater, because Mike Portnoy is back, and I am ecstatic! Additionally, I have been listening to obscure ’80s cock rock (perhaps the PG term is hard rock) from bands such as The Godz and Bronze, along with progressive ’70s rock such as Genesis, Alan Parsons Project and John Miles. Shoutout to my brother in rock Darion for recently introducing me to John Miles. 

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get? 

Trap, EDM and music made without guitars. It trips me out, man! Don’t get me wrong; I still listen to music people suggest to me, whether or not it’s comfortable. Discovering and listening to new music or unfamiliar music is so good for the mind of a musician. It keeps one young at heart, and gives the ability to have the wisdom of an old soul. The only thing constant is change, so keep open ears and an open mind to not become old and bitter!  

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?  

I would love to see Iron Maiden live. I feel ashamed that I haven’t. If we are talking about a defunct band, then the answer is Pink Floyd with Roger Waters and David Gilmour. 

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?  

Any ’60s and ’70s pop tune with Hal Blaine on drums. For very specific guilty pleasures, I would say I love to blast and jam out to “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle and “Everytime We Touch” by Maggie Reilly. The runner-up is “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. The former two are songs that are currently helping me develop an open-handed style of playing drums.  

What’s your favorite music venue? 

The Cellar Stage at Alturas! That’s where the good stuff is happening. Major shoutout to Dennis McDonald for helping me get my footing in Reno’s professional music scene during the Studio on 4th days. I got my first paycheck playing music from him in 2013 or so. Now, Dennis, along with Patty and J-Rock, are doing great things at the Cellar Stage. The Cellar Stage has amazing sound and is a great place to go see local musicians cut their teeth.  

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head? 

“Helpless hysteria, A false sense of urgency, trapped in my phobia, possessed by anxiety” from Dream Theater’s “Panic Attack.” It’s quite the sly nod to what (the band) Muse sounded like back then and explains the feeling of anxiety very well. Us musicians can be prone to bouts of insecurity, insanity and anxiety from time to time, but it’s important to remind yourself you’ve got to get on with the show, man!  

What band or artist changed your life? How? 

I will quote myself from 2018, because I cannot say it any better than I did back then: “It wasn’t until I played ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ (by The Who) on the video game Rock Band that I truly appreciated, and was blown away at, how unorthodox (Keith) Moon’s drumming was.” The Who were the first band that got me into music, because before then, I heard ’90s and 2000s R&B and pop. That was not my jam. Carrie Underwood and Avril Lavigne are pretty, but I digress. When I heard “Won’t Get Fooled Again” for the first time and heard gasp a drum solo, “Jonny the Rocker” was born. I spent countless hours trying to get above 90% on expert drums on Rock Band. Shortly after I did, and Christmas came along, I got my first drum set, and all of the neighbors I have had since then have not forgiven my parents. … Now my neighbors have to deal with me when inspiration strikes during business hours or the night-shift nurses at the Airbnb next door go to work, and then I practice anywhere between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. every other day.  

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking? 

I would ask Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead: “Man, how do you stay inspired to constantly grow as a musician? It’s already been a Long Strange Trip, and I am only in my late 20s.”  

What song would you like played at your funeral?  

“Starless” by King Crimson. It is a peaceful song with lyrics that make me think of sweet bliss as, over eons, my decaying body becomes part of the stars from where it originally came. 

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?  

Live at Leeds by The Who. 

What song should everyone listen to right now?  

Everyone should go out and seek a song that corresponds to how you are feeling as you currently read this, or seek a song that corresponds to how you want to feel. Listen to music you are unfamiliar with; try to understand it, or let it take you for a ride. Keep on rockin’, ladies and gents. Cheers!