NEXT AT THE HURDY GURDY
with special guest
October 14, 2017
Uncle Bonsai-Andrew Ratshin, Arni Adler and Patrice O'Neill-captivates audiences with songs that range from dark and hilarious to great insight and beauty. Seattle-based, the trio describes its performance as "what might happen if Tim Burton hijacked the Andres Sisters en route to a Stephen Sondheim festival with the Beatles and Tom Lehrer in the sidecar."
Founded in 1981, Uncle Bonsai is the happy result of want ads. Its members, three migrants to Seattle from the same college in Vermont, found each other when one of them put out a call for a folk group to sing sea shanties. Rather than the traditional songs of the sea, however, the group began performing original songs written by Andrew Ratshin, the trio's guitarist. Highlighted by intricate harmonies and often biting humor, the songs were poignant and unflinching portrayals of life, love and an everyman named "Doug."
Now in its 36th year, Uncle Bonsai continues to perform and record material that aligns itself with the under-achiever, the dejected, the outsider and the black sheep. The lyrics of its songs take a skewed stance on such topics as first-world problems, the creation of the universe, the afterlife, family holidays and the passing of nearly everything-time, genes, pets. The truth, according to the trio, lies buried under the family tree.
Uncle Bonsai's songs are almost one-act plays or short stories, resisting strict pop, folk, or singer-songwriter categories and reflecting diversity. As a result, the trio has appeared with a wide range of artists including Bonnie Raitt, Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright III, Trace Chapman, The Persuasions, The Bobs, Robyn Hitchcock and They Might Be Giants.
The trio has recorded nine CDs. The most recent, "The Family Feast: The Study of the Human Condition, First World Problems, and the Lasting Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Our Young," is scheduled for release this September. In 2013, the trio released its first ever "bedtime book for grownups," titled "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.
Our opening act, Kirsten Maxwell began her career at age 5, when she performed at a small opera house in New York City. She continued appearing there until high school, when her focus shifted to musical theater, song-writing and learning guitar. She graduated from college in 2014 with a degree in creative writing and the passion to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. In 2015, she released her first album, "Crimson." Often compared to Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell, she has opened for Vance Gilbert, Bill Staines, Slaid Cleaves and Michael Johnson, among others. Her commanding stage presence, quick wit and musical virtuosity create a level of intimacy that welcomes new audiences like old friends.
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