Music News & Reviews

Top entertainment picks: Aerosmith keyboardist Buck Johnson, Blazefest Battle of the Bands and Fresno Tattoo Expo

Buck Johnson plays keyboards and sings backup on tour with Aerosmith. In his off time, he has a solo band, which plays Friday, March 24 at the Tower Theatre Lounge.
Buck Johnson plays keyboards and sings backup on tour with Aerosmith. In his off time, he has a solo band, which plays Friday, March 24 at the Tower Theatre Lounge. Special to The Bee

Buck Johnson has windows of opportunity, time that he’s not otherwise engaged with rehearsals or touring as keyboard player and backing vocalist for Aerosmith.

The windows are quick, so when he gets one, he takes it.

“Timing is always a thing in this business,” says Johnson, currently in the midst of a solo tour that has kept him on the West Coast (and around the Central Valley) for the last month or so. His band plays Friday at the Tower Theater Lounge.

In May, he heads to Europe for a series of dates with the Aerosmith, but for now, he’s playing in support of his debut solo record, “Enjoying the Ride,” which was released in July. The album plays to Johnson’s history in country rock and Americana, though there’s hint of gospel and blues, too.

“I grew up singing blues and gospel,” he says. That was in Alabama, where he toured with his family’s band. He’s been on stage in some form since he was 5 years old.

“I’ve always been an artist, always been writing, always been a singer,” Johnson says.

That’s given him an impressive resume. He was a member of the country band Whiskey Falls, which had a pair of Top 40 country singles, and toured and or recorded with The Doobie Brothers, John Waite, Shawn Mullins and Matthew Sweet, among others. As a song writer, he co-wrote Carlos Santana’s 2005 hit “Just Feel Better,” which featured none other than Steven Tyler, though the singer never mentioned it when he hired Buck to be in Areosmith in 2014.

Tyler called him from Istanbul, where the band was on tour, and immediately put him on a plane. He’s been playing with the band since.

“I’ve hit the jackpot,” Johnson says.

“I’m the luckiest guy on the planet.”

Details: 8 p.m. Friday. Tower Theatre Lounge, 805 E. Olive Ave. $32-$42. 559-485-9050,

Blazefest battle

The event: Radio station 105.1 the Blaze hosts the finals of its BlazeFest Battle of the Bands.

The draw: Four of Fresno’s best rock and metal bands, as judged in a series of preliminary battles, compete for an opening spot on this year’s Blazefest. The winner will play alongside Shinedown, All That Remains, Sick Puppies, As Lions.

The finalists are: Merced’s Bus Stop Boxer, the South Valley rock band Stoneshiver, Fresno’s Days Under Authority and the Clovis band Centerpath. The bands will be judged by a panel of industry types (author included) and an audience vote.

Details: 9 p.m. Saturday. Full Circle Brewing Co. $5.All ages. 559-497-1100

Fresno, inked

The event: The Fresno Tattoo Expo celebrates its 13th year with dozens of artists on hand and ready to ink.

The draw: This is a two-day celebration of tattoos and tattoo culture. There’s an art and car show and sideshow performers and various tattoo contests running over the two days, including the Tattooed Beauty Contest. The winner is crowed the tattoo queen of the San Joaquin.

For those looking to get inked, this is the opportunity to sit with famous artists (or infamous as the case may be) like Permanent Mark, Oliver Peck (a long-time Fresno Tattoo Expo attendee) and Rick Waters.

Details: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Fresno Fairgrounds, 1121 S. Chance Ave. $20 a day or $30 for weekend pass. 661-444-9251,

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee