Los Poncho Tones and Their “Greasy Tumbleweed“ Grooves

By Lisa Lynn Morgan

Los Poncho Tones, Honorees for Outstanding Instrumental Group at The Joshuas 2022, seem to be the popular band for hire lately, and for good reason. Recently, at the Landers Elementary School fundraiser, the trio, baseman Jon Ossman, drummer Denny Weston, and guitar slinger Josh Sonntag, backed up no fewer than 12 original artists impeccably, as if they’d been playing their songs for years. More than once, it was expressed how much the artist enjoyed Los Poncho Tones’ handling of their song babies.

Jon Ossman is from upstate New York. He cut his teeth in the NYC scene and did some time in India, where he received training in classical Indian stringed instruments. After moving west, Ossman became a widely used bassist for stage and studio in Los Angeles. He settled in Joshua Tree a few years ago and stays busy playing live and doing recording sessions.

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Drummer Denny Weston, Jr. is from Baltimore. His father was an accomplished professional bassist, and his grandmother was a long-time organ player at a church, so music was always around when he was growing up. He settled on drums after bashing a toy kit to death that he received as a gift when he was boy. Music also brought Weston Jr. out west, and he quickly made a name for himself as a first call drummer in the L.A. scene. He moved out to the high desert a few years ago and continues to be in demand, doing a lot of remote drum sessions and productions from his recording studio.

Guitarist Josh Sonntag was born in NYC but moved with his family to Mexico when he was 6. He grew up mostly in Cancun where, as a teen, he was playing for tourists in bars, eventually attending Berklee School of Music in Boston. After school, he did some time in Miami before settling in L.A. “Because I was fluent in Spanish, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of important Latin artists and producers both on stage and in studio. I moved to Landers in 2021, but I’ve splitting time between the desert and L.A. since 2017. Since moving here full time, I’ve been doing a lot of remote guitar sessions from my recording studio while also going back to L.A. as needed.”

When asked how the trio came together, Sonntag shared, “Jon and Denny knew each other from the L.A. music scene, and I had heard of both of them. Our mutual friend, Matt Ellis, set up a jam session at my studio and invited both Denny and Jon. That was our first time playing together. The chemistry and vibe were immediate, so we decided to go do a trio Jam at Pappy & Harriet’s Open Mic, but it was shut down that week as the Delta version of Covid-19 was starting to spike. We decided to get together at Denny’s on a weekly basis and built it from there.”

As a trio, Los Poncho Tones has backed many of the Hi-Desert’s talented artist, including Matt Ellis, Rosa Pullman, C’est Claire, Jesika Von Rabbit, Parker Ainsworth, Jessie Payo, Brad Byrd, John Curry, Reuben Bullock, Pat Kearns, Karma, and more. Individually, they stay busy with recording or taking sideman gigs. “In the past, Jon has toured and recorded with Paula Cole, Chris Botti, Rebecca Pidgeon, among many others,” shared Sontag. “Denny has recorded and/or toured with The Kooks, Michael Kiwanuka, Robert Palmer, Santana, and many others.” Sonntag, himself, has toured and/or recorded with Draco Rosa, Gustavo Santaolalla, Alex Syntek, Ximena Sariñana, to name a few.

When asked what the future holds for the band, Sonntag replied, “We are focusing on recording and releasing some material. We are also focused on positioning ourselves as a first call option, both for artists who live in the high desert and those coming to play in the area. Lastly, we are excited to keep on expanding performance opportunities up here by creating exciting music offerings in our famous, well-established venues, as well as our more underground alternative venues. Hopefully, we can help this area become known as a world-class music destination.”

Check out Los Poncho Tones at the following locations:
Quema Del Diablo 12/3 with John Curry at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center
Honky Tonk Dance Class night at Giant Rock Meeting Room on 12/8
12/17 6-9 PM A Red Dog Christmas at Red Dog Saloon, Pioneertown with multiple artists

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