Uncle Bonsai
Saturday, September 9

“Uncle Bonsai, a folk-pop trio from Seattle, performs funny original songs whose exquisite musical detail and dubtle needling wit attain a level of craft not often seen in pop.”
–Stephen Holden,
The New York Times

“Uncle Bonsai are not normal. (They have) humor that starts at irreverent and moves out from there. They have the technical ability one expects of the Pointer Sisters or Manhattan Transfer...The crowd gave them a wildly enthusiastic reception and they encored with a breakneck “Boogie Woogie Bugle” that left the Andrews Sisters’ original in the dust.”
–Elijah Wald,
The Boston Globe

Imagine what might happen if Tim Burton hijacked the Andrew's Sisters en route to a Stephen Sondheim festival with The Beatles and Tom Lehrer in the sidecar; you'd get Seattle super-harmonizers Uncle Bonsai. With just three voices and an acoustic guitar, Uncle Bonsai presents an often dizzying vocal array of intricate harmony. Their songs, dark and hilarious at times, just as often delight with moments of great insight and beauty. The trio aligns itself with the under-achiever, the dejected, the outsider, the black sheep. Densely-packed lyrics fly by in a whirr at times, and take a skewed stance on topics such as first-world problems, the creation of the universe, the afterlife, and, of course, holidays with the family. Uncle Bonsai’s acoustic folk-pop songs are almost one-act plays or short stories, resisting strict pop, folk, or singer-songwriter categories. Their songs focus on the passing of time, the passing of genes, and the passing of pets - the truth of everything seemingly buried somewhere under the family tree.

 

Uncle Bonsai

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Now in its 35th year, Uncle Bonsai continues to perform and record new material. The group has eight recordings and, in mid-2013, released its first ever “bedtime book for grownups,” The Monster in the Closet/Go To Sleep. This fully illustrated, reversible, hard cover book for parents, features two popular Uncle Bonsai songs, with artwork by members Arni Adler and Patrice O'Neill, and includes a recording of the songs. The group is currently recording a new cd, tentatively titled: “The Family Feast: The Study of the Human Condition, First World Problems, and the Lasting Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Our Young,” due for release soon.

“Singers Ratshin, O'Neill and Adler are pitch-perfect in their delivery of often complex harmonic arrangements. And if there were an Ella Fitzgerald Award for Exquisite Elocution in Song, they would surely get it. The trio officially bills itself as a “folk” outfit, but has none of the naiveté that label might suggest. These are nicely edgy, sour-sweet songs, written for grown-ups.”
– The Seattle Times


 

   


Traditions Café and World Folk Art
300 5th Avenue SW, Olympia, WA 98501
360-705-2819