Uncle Bonsai

Uncle Bonsai

 Seattle, Washington, USA

Uncle Bonsai performs original, contemporary folk/pop music, with soaring and intricate 3-part vocal harmonies and biting humor. Accompanied by only an acoustic guitar, the trio presents poignant unflinching portrayals of life, love, & a guy named Doug. That’s it. Nearly naked folk-pop for everyone.


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

Imagine what might happen if Edward Gorey 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 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.

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 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.

“No other folk group has a vocal blend comparable to Uncle Bonsai. Uncle Bonsai writes and performs songs that combine folk-oriented melodies with lyrics whose intricate rhymes, ironic knowingness and satirical thrust suggest vintage theater songs filtered through the influence of the Beatles." - The New York Times


[Live video available at http://www.unclebonsai.com/audio.html]

Uncle Bonsai has sold over 100,000 copies of their various recordings and have been featured on commercial, public, and community radio throughout the world. The group has had a number of live concert broadcasts ("Folkstage" in Chicago, "Mountain Stage" in West Virginia, etc.) and has been featured on a number of compilations. The group has 8 Compact Discs and 1 CD Single, including the brand new release "The Grim Parade."

A Lonely Grain of Corn (LP 1984)
Boys Want Sex in the Morning (LP 1986)
Myn Ynd Wymyn (1986)
The Inessential Uncle Bonsai (1991)
Doug (1999)
Plain Brown Wrapper (1999)
Sponge Boy (CD Single) (1999)
Apology (2000)
A Lonely Grain of Corn (CD Reissue 2003)
Boys Want Sex in the Morning (CD Reissue 2004)
The Grim Parade (2010)

“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. These are nicely edgy, sour-sweet songs, written for grown-ups.” - The Seattle Times