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      About The Group Uncle Bonsai NERFA Page top of page

      "A folk-pop trio from Seattle, performs funny original songs whose exquisite musical detail and subtle needling wit attain a level of craft not often seen in pop" - NY Times

      Imagine what might happen if Tim Burton hijacked the Andrews 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 acousticUncle Bonsai 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.

      Now in its thirty-seventh year, this acoustic folk-pop trio continues to tackle topics such as first-world problems, the creation of the universe, the afterlife, and, of course, holidays with the family. 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 BonsaiUncle Bonsai songs, with artwork by members Arni Adler and Patrice O'Neill, and includes a recording of the songs. In September 2017, the group released its ninth cd, "The Family Feast: The Study of the Human Condition, First World Problems, and the Lasting Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Our Young," and set out on a series of CD Release concerts throughout North America.

      "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

      Full Bio & History

      Latest News Top of Page Concert Calendar

      The new recording, "The Family Feast: The Study of the Human Condition, First World Problems, and the Lasting Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Our Young," has been officially released! Available in retail and online stores everyhere, the CD features many of the songs the group has been performing for the past year or so. Included will be: Problems, Brand New World, Modern Medicine (Old Man Arms), In The End, The Family Feast, Bat, and many others. The group is planning a series of CD Release Concerts, throughout North America, in Spring/Summer so stay tuned for updates.

      The new recording

      The new recording, titled: The Family Feast: The Study of the Human Condition, First World Problems, and the Lasting Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Our Young," features many of the songs the group has been performing for the past year or so. Included are: Problems, Brand New World, Modern Medicine (Old Man Arms), In The End, The Family Feast, Bat, and many others.

      The Triple Door: September 19th - 38th Anniversary Show

      Join the group as it celebrates the 35th Anniversary of the first album, "A Lonely Grain of Corn." Hear more "songs they promised never to sing again," along with some special surprises.

      The Monster in the Closet/Go To Sleep
      Two tauntingly twisted tales for tormented parents!

      Uncle Bonsai can’t seem to get it right. Everything goes askew in whatever they try. Their so-called “children’s” songs ended badly, especially for the family pets, but even their “grown- up” songs of childhood memories are rife with disappointment. Long obsessed with what gets swept beneath the rug of every family, the trio’s recent work turns its scrutiny on parenting. Once children themselves, they mocked the best (some say “futile”) efforts of their beleaguered parents. Not until after becoming parents themselves did they realize the great wisdom and fortitude of their parents, after all. Shoulda said something. Now they turn their “mature” attention to the sheer devilry of their own children.

      Uncle Bonsai’s first "flipover" book contains two illustrated songs about extreme efforts certain skewed adults (might) take to get their own children to bed: Confess to them about the reality of monsters. Bribe them. Threaten their toys. Accept the futility and hit the gin. There are no swear words and no one’s getting hurt, but straight-faced lies and escalating tempers of angels will lead even good parents to feel superior to the depths sought out by the narrators of these songs.

      That’s why we love Bonsai. They’re so much worse off than we are.

       

      top of page Top of Page Audio/Video Concerts

      • 19sepSeattle, WA - The 38th Anniversary Show: A Lonely Grain of Corn's 35th Anniversary

        At The Triple Door . . . get tickets early! It's the 38th Anniversary Show, the "Corniverary," celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the very first Uncle Bonsai album, "A Lonely Grain of Corn." More "old songs we promised to never sing again," including that one . . . and that one . . .maybe not that one . . . but yes, even that one. There'll be some real surprises and maybe a sing-a-long? This will sell out so grab tickets now!

      Live Uncle Bonsai Audio Samples

      Problems live @ Kirkland Performance Center
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      I Would Come Back from The Grim Parade (Live)
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      Men and Women live @ Kirkland Performance Center

      Recordingstop of page Top of Page Contact
      Uncle Bonsai has released 8 full-length cds, 1 cd single, 1 "Bedtime Book for Grownups," which is a flip-over book that also contains a cd, and can be found on a number of compilations, including the "Just One Angel" recordings. Uncle Bonsai's label, Yellow Tail Records, has released over 30 folk, classical, holiday, compilation, and childrens recordings and all are available in stores throughout North America, as well as all the online sites. You can visit our store at The Yellow Tail Records Store.


      The Inessential Uncle BonsaiMyn Ynd WymynDougPlain Brown WrapperSponge BoyApology


      A Lonely Grain of CornBoys Want Sex in the MorningThe Grim ParadeThe Family FeastJust One AngelJust One Angel v2.0