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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 celebrating its fortieth 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 group is currently planning a series of 40th Anniversary Shows, for 2021-2022. These shows will include old songs, news songs, and even some of the "songs they swored they'd never sing again!" Come celebrate forty years or performing and recording!

The latest recording, "The Family Feast: The Study of the Human Condition, First World Problems, and the Lasting Physiological and Psychological Effects of Eating Our Young," available in retail and online stores everyhere, 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 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.

Seven Sins, Seven Wonders, Seven Dwards: A New Song Cycle

Andrew's currently working hard on the new song cycle, "Seven Sins, Seven Wonders, Seven Dwarfs," a collection of songs inspired by, well, the seven sins, the seven wonders, and, um, the seven dwarfs. Uncle Bonsai is hoping to perform the entire 25-song collection in Fall 2020 but has been premiering individual songs with each new show. More info to come but keep your eyes on the 7sinswondersdwarfs.com web site!

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

  • 05nov...............Olympia, WA - New Traditions Fair Trade: The 40th Anniversary Show - TWO SHOWS!


    Tickets on sale now! Reservations Required by calling 360-705-2819!
    Uncle Bonsai returns to New Traditions Cafe & Fair Trade to celebrate the group's 40th Anniversary with old songs, new songs, more “songs they swore they’d never sing again,” songs from the "Seven Sins, Seven Wonders, Seven Dwarfs" project, and much more. The shows at New Traditions, a wonderful, intimate, listening room, are always special . . . don't miss it! Two shows: 5:30pm and 8:00pm. Half-capactiy spacing and proof of vaccination required!

  • 12/13nov...............Seattle, WA - The Triple Door: The 40th Anniversary Show! Special Two-Night Event*


    Tickets on sale now!
    Hopefully, venues will start opening up this summer and the group can return to The Triple Door, for two special nights, to celebrate their 40th Anniversary with some of their "greatest hits." Old songs, new songs, more “songs they swore they’d never sing again,” songs from the "Seven Sins, Seven Wonders, Seven Dwarfs" project, and much more. Package deals will be available -- the two nights will not be the same* -- so we hope you'll come celebrate the 40th year AND the return of Uncle Bonsai.

    SPECIAL TWO-NIGHT DEAL: CALL 866-973-9612 AND ASK FOR THE TWO NIGHT BUNDLE T0 GET A DISCOUNT!

    *The group guarantees at least 50% different songs each night!

  • 19nov...............Leavnenworth, WA - Icicle Creek Center for the Arts: The 40th Anniversary Show


    Tickets on sale now!
    Uncle Bonsai returns to Icicle Creek for the first show in over 10 years . . . and just in time. Come celebrate the group's 40th Anniversary with old songs, new songs, more “songs they swore they’d never sing again,” songs from the "Seven Sins, Seven Wonders, Seven Dwarfs" project, and much more. The beautiful Snowy Owl Theater is the perfect venue to hear the group . . . don't miss it! Proof of Vaccination required!

  • 20nov...............Richland, WA - Three Rivers Folklife Society Concert: The 40th Anniversary Show


    Tickets on sale now!
    Uncle Bonsai returns to the Tri-Cities to celebrate the group's 40th Anniversary. Expect an evening of old songs, new songs, more “songs they swore they’d never sing again,” songs from the "Seven Sins, Seven Wonders, Seven Dwarfs" project, and much more. More information as it comes in! This concert wil be at All Saints' Episcopal Church, 1322 Kimball Ave, Richland, WA. Proof of vaccination is required.

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 WrapperApology


A Lonely Grain of CornBoys Want Sex in the MorningThe Grim ParadeThe Family FeastThe Family Feast