The Magnetos A Cool Ride Back to the 50’s
By Russ Fagle
Around sixty years ago in the late 1950s, something special happened in this country musically. The post depression, post World War Two generation burst forward with a new optimism and energy. America was on a roll, and it was about to rock. A fresh new music style called rockabilly started to emerge to quench the rising demand of a new teenage generation that was ready to make its mark on the American music scene. The importance and influence of rockabilly in American music can not be overstated. It bridged the gap between the tectonic plates of rhythm and blues, country and jazz in a way that ushered in rock and roll and the cultural implications that came with it that left the world forever changed. This is how rockabilly music is often described, a bridge to full blown rock and roll of the late sixties and beyond.
To the Magnetos, and legions of roots rock fans everywhere, rockabilly isn’t just a bridge, it is a destination in itself. Like all music genres, rockabilly comes with a special subculture that completes it not just visually and esthetically but stylistically and culturally. Slicked up hair, sideburns, denim and leather and cool fifties throwbacks are all part of the show. The 1950’s marked a massive shift on the sound of popular music with the advent of the electric guitar. The raw, spare sound of a guitar, stand-up bass and small drum set is the standard set up for The Magnetos, as it was for the legendary bands of the late 1950s. This combination works great for the bouncing, rollicking rhythms and straight forward melodies that speak to the teenager that lingers in all of us with its direct message, repeated choruses and be-bopping beats. This music is at once an expression of youth breaking free and a nod to a more innocent age of musical experimentation and rebellion. The energy spans the world of youthful expectation and optimism, coming of age to heartbreak. Muscle cars, pretty girls and wearing your new leather jacket on Saturday night is a great culture to rock to. This is rock music before things got overblown, too big, too fast and out of control. This is music from when rock and roll itself was a teenager- with all the energy, recklessness and surging hormones of any teenager, past or present. In a word: timeless.
The Magnetos formed in 2009, and shuffled members around until settling with the current trio line up in the fall of 2010. Joey Bravo on guitar, Joe “Pegleg” Nelson on stand-up bass. Drummer Todd Brown is the only remaining original member in the band. The current line up has a great chemistry that translates to the intense life show they are known for. The band is coming off a nearly three year hiatus after Joey Bravo’s move to Denver in 2013 and an unsuccessful attempt to fill his formidable front-man shoes. Upon his return to the area this past spring, the band has been rehearsing and is ready for a much anticipated return to the stage at Parlor City on September 2. Further, the band is planning on releasing an EP of original material later this year.
One of the things that makes a Magnetos show special is that these guys don’t just “play the songs”- they employee the self-described “youthful energy” needed to properly convey these songs and the culture that produced them. These shows are best experienced in their native domains like small bars, dancehalls and parties where you can get up close to the band and really feel the energy of three guys making a sound much larger than the sum of its parts.
Joe “Pegleg” Nelson describes the bands’ broad appeal like this, “The appeal of rockabilly music spans wider than anything out there. It seems that every genre of music is gonna have the people that love it and the people that hate it. But nobody hates Elvis! Our eclectic mix of nostalgic hits makes us popular with the sixty to eighty year-old crowd, while the intensity of our live show goes over equally well with the twenty and thirty somethings. We’ve played everything from heavy metal music festivals to retirement community block parties. How’s that for versatility? Custom car and motorcycle events are also a frequent venue for us. One thing they all seem to agree on is that The Magnetos can host one heck of a good time!”
Get into this rocking time capsule and head back to the 1950s and experience a music movement that changed the world.
Members: Joey Bravo (Guitar)
Joe “PegLeg” Nelson (Stand-Up Bass)
Todd Brown (Drums)
Major influences: Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, The Blasters, Gene Vincent, Wanda Jackson, Elvis Presley, Johnny Burnette, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran
Check out the Magnetos online at: