Winter NAMM 2020: Catching Up with Ace Von Johnson

by Daniel Corey

At Winter NAMM 2020
with Ace Von Johnson

Do you know anybody that has their own table set aside to honor them at the legendary Rainbow on Sunset Strip? Who also happens to be a world-class rock guitarist, VO artist, pit bull advocate and super-nice guy? Well, I do. His name is Ace Von Johnson.

Ace is currently playing guitar and touring with L.A. Guns, a band known to be a Los Angeles institution since the ‘80s. I had a chance to chat with Ace at Winter NAMM 2020, to see what he’s up to and get a handle on his many side projects.

Ace Von Johnson, photo by Dustin Jack,
from Ace’s Facebook Page

Daniel Corey: I’m on the floor at NAMM with Ace Von Johnson, guitarist extraordinaire.

Ace Von Johnson: That’s an overstatement.

Daniel Corey: Oh, no, no, no, this guy’s amazing. I’ve seen him a couple times, and he’s great. So, tell me, first of all, what are you doing here at NAMM? What’s going on?

Ace Von Johnson: Well, I’m here with my buddy, Riki Rachtman. We’re promoting his podcast. He just launched a new podcast called The Triple R. And we’re also doing a musical project TBA, and so we’re kind of announcing that sort of a subtly. And I’m here, you know, as a musician; it’s NAMM. So, it’s like a necessary evil: once a year, I come out to this show and rub some elbows. Mostly it’s just to socialize and say hi to friends I don’t get to see every day.

Daniel Corey: Yeah, I work primarily in the publishing world, in comics, so there’s the San Diego Comic Con. It’s the comic book equivalent of this, and a lot of people dread it. I like it; I think it’s fun. But, yeah, there is a lot of hardship about doing these kind of shows. There’s the bad air in these convention halls, for one.

Ace Von Johnson: Yeah.

Daniel Corey: It’s already wreaking havoc on my throat, and I’ve only been here a few hours.

Ace Von Johnson: Yeah, NAMMthrax.

Daniel Corey: NAMMthrax!

Ace Von Johnson: It’s a real thing.

Daniel Corey: Yeah, it certainly is. So, we were just chatting a little bit, you were telling me about some of the things you had going on since December. You had a show with L.A. Guns at The Whisky.

Ace Von Johnson: Yeah, we did sort of our end-of-the-year blowout. We did Vegas and San Diego House of Blues and the Whisky-A-Go-Go in Hollywood, and we filmed and recorded the Whisky-A-Go-Go show, which I believe–don’t quote me–but I think will be a release.

Daniel Corey: Cool.

Ace Von Johnson: Yeah, and then we’ve got some local shows this weekend, and then we’re taking a few months off. Tracii Guns’ wife is expecting a baby in a few weeks.

Daniel Corey: Oh, nice.

Ace Von Johnson: So, he’s taking a quick parental leave of absence, and we’re all going to work on our own individual things. Like I said, I’m working on this music project with Riki, kind of rock and roll/punk rock thing, and there’s going to be a bunch of guests. So, it’s going to be one of those kind of projects, like a different-lineup-each-song sort of thing.

At The Rainbow with Ace,
at his table, circa 2018

Daniel Corey: You’re also doing some voiceover, right?

Ace Von Johnson: Yeah. I do voiceover work occasionally, as well. So, always looking to pick up some stuff there, and DJ a couple gigs here and there.

Daniel Corey: Where are you doing the DJ work?

Ace Von Johnson: Well, there’s a couple places in L.A. that I’m trying to reconnect. There was about a year where I had three different residencies at a place called Loaded, which is gone; the Burgundy Room, which has been there for a hundred years, literally; and then Lucky Strike. So, I may try to go back to Burgundy. It was talked about. And then there’s a promoter in Texas bringing me out for an event out there, which is a nice little event to do. I think there’s some other stuff that just hasn’t firmed up enough for me to really act like it exists.

Daniel Corey: Yeah, that’s the way it is in this business.

Ace Von Johnson: Yeah. And look for some photo shoot stuff, just confirmed yesterday, for a large tattoo magazine appearance. You know, it’s like one of those things where I don’t wanna say what it is until it actually happens.

Daniel Corey: Yes.

Ace Von Johnson: But as of yesterday, it just got confirmed. There’ll be a feature in this kind of well-known magazine on tattoo artists, but also people who are heavily tattooed. And I happen to also be heavily tattooed.

Daniel Corey: There you go.

Ace Von Johnson: Bob’s your uncle. They’re going to take a bunch of pictures of me. (laughter) I’m staying busy. Yeah, that’s it, hanging tough.

Daniel Corey: Good, man. Well, I’m glad to talk to you. Thanks for filling us in.

Ace Von Johnson: Absolutely.

Daniel Corey: And I’ll certainly keep up with you down the line.

Ace Von Johnson: Yeah, yeah, L.A. Guns will be on the road all 2020 and 2021, et cetera. Keep an eye out for us, and see you out there.

Photo by Anabel DFlux

– Incidentally, I recently visited The Rainbow with my multi-talented friend, singer/songerwriter/pianist/actress/dancer (she really does all of those things, and well!) Karuna Tanahashi. It was about midnight on a Monday, after a crazy night at The Whisky, and the hostess seated us at Ace’s table, which seemed like a fun coincidence. For kicks, we took a few pictures.

With Karuna Tanahashi
at Ace’s table at the Rainbow
Karuna at The Rainbow,
photo by me

Daniel Corey