BRIAN LONBECK (“They Call Me Little Joe”)
Brian began singing and playing country music at age 13 and won his first talent contest at age 14 on radio station KFOX in Long Beach, California. He was then booked regularly for months after, as a special guest.
At age 15, Brian became Barbara Mandrell’s first guitarist / back-up singer, working for the Mandrell’s for six years; during that time doing recording, touring and television work which included two tours in the Far East to countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines Okinawa and Viet Nam.
At age 22, Brian was drafted into the U.S. Army and became Fort Ord’s Special Service guitarist and singer. During his two year tour-of-duty, he won two U.S. Sixth Army Showcase of Army Stars doing an act that included playing not only the guitar, but the banjo, mandolin and fiddle as well (he can play anything with strings). Upon completing his duty for the U.S. Army in 1971, Brian once again became Barbara Mandrell’s guitarist and back-up singer. Barbara was now living in Nashville, Tennessee and they toured the country with her road show group.
After leaving the Mandrell’s Brian began touring with his own road show group, the “Sounds of Country”. He has worked venues in many places, including Las Vegas and Japan (5 tours) just to name a few. Brian recorded a song entitled “She’s Just a Reminder” which was a #2 hit for two-weeks on KLAC radio station in Los Angeles, Ca. Brian has been on radio shows such as The Squeakin’ Deacon Show and television shows such as Cal’s Corral (Channel 13, KCOP) and the Barbara Mandrell Show. His talent was then, and is now, always in demand.
Brian has played lead guitar and sung for such country stars as:
Barbara Mandrell Merle Travis Eddy Dean
Erlene Mandrell Freddie Hart Johnny Bond
Louise Mandrell Bobby Bear Gordon Terry
Joe & Rose Maphis Larry & Lorie Collins Bobby Durham
In the 70's and 80's Brian toured the Southern California military bases with his “Sounds of Country” band. Some of the shows his band opened for include Juice Newton, The Bellamy Brothers, Johnny Lee and Steppenwolf. He was one of the featured guest artists on Ralph Edward’s network special “This is Your Life, Barbara Mandrell”.
Other past tours and/or shows include:
Month long tour in Japan with Ron Stein’s “Memories of Elvis” show
“Welcome Home Desert Storm Troops” held in Port Hueneme, CA.
Featured artist at the Hawthorne Airport Show
Opening act for Chris LeDoux at the Eagle Mountain Casino
Weekly, regular house band for Bakersfield, CA. nightclub, Rock-N-Rodeo, for two years which featured Nashville recording artist, Jack Clayton, as lead singer and Mark Yeary on the keyboards (Merle Haggard’s keyboard player for 19 years).
Brian currently performs on Wednesday and/or Thursday nights at the famous Buck Owens Crystal Palace in Bakersfield and Friday and Saturday nights at The Playhouse as the lead guitar for Capitol Records recording artist, Bobby Durham.
In November 2005, Brian was mentioned in Guitar Player Magazine, Rants and Raves section, as “possibly the only person on earth who is a master of the Joe Maphis guitar style (nobody plays like that anymore)” and “....the players are astounding (special mention must go out to Lonbeck....)”. In January, 2007, Brian and his one of a kind Mosrite guitar were featured in the “Vintage Vault” section of Guitar Player Magazine. In February, 2007, Guitar Player Magazine listed Brian on the cover and corresponding article as one of the “101 Forgotten Greats and Unsung Heroes”, along with other great pickers such as Hank Garland, Roy Clark, Jerry Reed, and many others. Brian can be seen pick’n on Guitar Player TV (go to http://guitarplayertv.com ), choose “concert hall”, then click on Brian Lonbeck and watch the fingers fly!
In 2006, 2007 and 2008, Brian was one of the featured guitar players along with Deke Dickerson at an annual 4-day event in Las Vegas, Nevada called the Rock-a-Billy Show which was held at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino (beginning in 2009 it will be held at the New Orleans Hotel and Casino). Literally thousands flock to this huge event for 4-days of music, car shows, and other events all revolving around the days of Rock-a-Billy music (many fans dress in the era so it’s a little like stepping back in time).
He has regularly been a featured instrumentalist for Deke Dickerson, along with other artists such as Nokie Edwards (The Ventures), Thom Bresh, Jeremy Wakefield, Gary Lambert, Larry Collins and others at Deke Dickerson’s annual “Guitar Geek Festival” show which is held during the famous annual NAMM Show / Vintage Guitar Show in Anaheim, CA. These “Guitar Geek” shows attract fans, fellow musicians and vendors from all over the United States and Europe who are in Anaheim for the NAMM show (some of which come specifically to see Brian play). Highlights from these shows are available on Deke Dickerson’s “Deke’s Guitar Geek Festival” CD’s and are available at www.dekedickerson.com .
Just released in September 2006 by Dual Tone Records is CD entitled “Ode to Joe” featuring Brian, along with other country players and singers such as Emmy Lou Harris, Asleep at the Wheel, Thom Bresh and others which is a tribute to the original “King of the Strings”, Joe Maphis.