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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. Look for an assortment of "CD Release Concerts" in Spring, 2018! Stay tuned for updates.

Ten Pound Fiddle: April 13th - CD Release Concert

Although Uncle Bonsai has toured extensively over the past 37 tears, this is the first time the trio visits Lansing, Michigan and the famed Ten Pound Fiddle concert series. Tickets for this CD Release Concert are availble now! (See below)

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

  • 01junYellow Tail New Song Night!

    Uncle Bonsai joins other Yellow Tail Records artists for a fun night of new songs. Electric Bonsai Band, Hilary Field, Scott Katz, Patrice O'Neill, and Matt Price are joined by special guests Go Janes, featuring Arni Adler, Patrice O'Neill, and Kathleen Tracy.

  • 13julFree Fridays at the Fort (Fort Worden State Park) - Pt Townsend, WA

    Centrum’s popular lunchtime concert and reading series takes place on the lawn of the Nora Porter Commons at Fort Worden State Park. Performances begin at 12pm and last until 1pm, and are free

  • 18augOlalla American Music Festival - Olalla, Washington

    Uncle Bonsai performs at the best small-town country-side festival this side of the Cascades, celebrating “Americana Music”. (It’s roots are blues, bluegrass,country, folk, R & B, and jazz.) Great line-up all day with Uncle Bonsai performing at 5:00pm.

  • 14sepSeattle, WA - 37th Anniversary Concert: The Myniversary Show @ The Triple Door

    Get tickets early! Join us for Uncle Bonsai's 37th Anniversary show, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Myn Ynd Wymyn release. This annual show is the one opportunity to hear some of those "older" songs the group promised to never play again. And this year, you might even hear songs like Bedroom Eyes, Midas Touch, Taking the Kids to Disney World, Folk Song, Julie Andrews, and others from the 1988 recording.

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