On Stage: Deni Bonet brings special violin skills to Jamey’s

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Deni Bonet

Deni Bonet takes the violin to places most musicians don’t even dream about – and gladly takes listeners along for the ride.

On January 14, Bonet will be taking the audience at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) along for the ride – a thrilling ride that spans musical genres and gets audience members out of their seats.

Bonet can rock a violin like nobody’s business and writes memorable songs that make you want to listen again and again. For years, Bonet has been honing her craft as a violinist, singer, songwriter and performer. Her style ranges from pop to roots-rock to new folk.

On her latest album, “Bright Shiny Objects,” she delivers ultra-high voltage, genre-defying brilliance, with pure classical training and precision playing.

“I’ve had a very interesting career,” said Bonet, during a phone interview Wednesday evening from her home in New York City.

“I grew up in northern Virginia – Woodbridge – and got a full ride to West Virginia University.

“Right out of school, I got on Mountain Stage. I was part of the original cast. A cool thing – I went back recently as a full guest.”

Bonet first came to widespread attention as a founding member of National Public Radio’s premier music show, Mountain Stage, where she built a following as a member of the broadcast’s house band; singing and playing in her own right and backing up artists as diverse as the Indigo Girls, Richard Thompson and Allen Toussaint.

In the 90s, Bonet relocated to London, where she worked with alternative rock legend, Robyn Hitchcock, including a series of concerts as a duo that won praise from USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. She played on Hitchcock’s album “Moss Elixir,” and even appeared in the Jonathan Demme concert film, “Storefront Hitchcock.”

Eventually, Bonet decided it was time to go solo.

At Jamey’s, Bonet will be performing with her musical partner – guitarist Chris Flynn.

“I do play with a band occasionally,” said Bonet. “Since the plague hit, I go out mostly with Chris. It’s a duo. He’s not a side guy. We have a chemistry.

“We hooked up a few years back. I was asked to plat the New York Irish Rock Review show at City Winery. I was in the house band and Chris was the musical director. The second year I did it, we hung out a little more and I asked him to do a gig with me. From then on, we started to work together. We’ve played Carnegie Hall four times.”

After moving to New York, Bonet released an initial EP (titled, simply, “EP”) and then her full-length debut, “Bigger Is Always Better.” The disc, which featured guest appearances from Hitchcock and The Soft Boys’ Kimberly Rew (writer of Katrina and the Waves’ classic hit Walking On Sunshine), garnered rave reviews.

Bonet has hosted her own cable TV show, “Duets With Deni,” a combination of music and chat featuring a series of all-star guests, which was the subject of a rave Billboard feature. She has performed highly regarded showcases at CMJ and SXSW, and took her act on the road with Lilith Fair.

And she’s remained one of the most in-demand session players and sidewomen around, adding her violin to albums by an impressive variety of artists — from the introspective Sarah McLachlan to techno-metal band Gravity Kills — and making TV appearances on The Today Show, SNL and Late Night With Conan O’Brien.

As she established herself as a solo act, Bonet impressed artists like Patti Smith, Lisa Loeb, Gin Blossoms, Cracker, Midnight Oil, The Saw Doctors, Fairport Convention, Marshall Crenshaw and Kansas, all of whom have invited her to open their shows. She spent several years touring the globe as the violinist in Cyndi Lauper’s band.

“I spent a couple years touring with Cyndi and that was a lot of fun,” said Bonet.

Bonet also had a fun time in Zanzibar.

“I went to Africa – to Tanzania – on safari,” said Bonet. “It was on my bucket list. I was in Zanzibar for a week.

“On the next-to-last day, I met some musicians at a traditional dinner. I jammed with these musicians, gave a workshop to teachers, and performed a mini concert.

“They asked me to come back and do a residency. I got a nice size grant and went back to Stone Town for a month. I spent three-and-a-half weeks teaching rock-and-roll, songwriting and violin.”

In January 2020, Bonet returned to Zanzibar to record original music with local Tanzanian band Stone Town Rockerz which will appear on her new album, to be released later this year.

“I wanted them on my new album,” said Bonet. “The track we did together is called, “All Around the World Music Is Love.”

“When I started making the new album, I called in favors. Some of the musicians who played on the album were Will Lee, Andy York, Leland Sklar, Shawn Pelton and most of the Spin Doctors.”

Bonet plays the violin like no other. Although classically trained, Bonet quit the classical world because she hated having to wear black and sit still.

“I approach it more like a guitar than a violin,” said Bonet.

Bonet is also known for her signature bright blue violin.

“I was originally given the guitar from the company — Barcus-Berry – when I was touring with Cyndi,” said Bonet. “They gave me violins in every color. Blue is the one that sounds the best.”

Audience members at Jamey’s will be seeing blue but not feeling blue when Bonet rips into her intense solos.

“We played Jamey’s once before,” said Bonet. “We must have done well because they asked us back.

‘We tend to do a mix of songs with vocals and instrumentals. Our most recent album, ‘Bright Shiny Objects,’ is our first all-instrumental album – sand it rocks. Chris and I both sing and we’ll be doing songs from all my albums.

“We’re going to have a busy year. We have 40 shows booked and more coming in. It’s great.

“When people leave our shows, they feel really good.”

Video link for Deni Bonet – https://youtu.be/7vHjx4Lp5Pw.

The show at Jamey’s on January 14 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Annika Horne

Jamey’s will also be presenting another talented female musician on January 12 when Annika Horne is featured in the “Thursday Night Jazz Jam.”

Even though Horne is still in her early 20s, she has established herself as a genuine “Renaissance Woman.”

Horne is an award-winning filmmaker, a jazz singer, a film actor, a songwriter, a pop singer, a stage actress, a teacher, and a country vocalist.

“I grew up in Dallas and went to the University of Texas in Austin,” said Horne, during a phone interview Tuesday evening from her home in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City.

“I got a degree in radio/TV/film. I was a double major and also got a degree in history focusing on World War II. Now, I’m living in New York and working for a film producer.

“I started singing when I was five or six. I sang in choirs. I got into writing music when I was a teenager and then started composition. I have studied classical voice under Dr. Stella Yoon, Brian Schexnayder, and Billy Park. Stella Yoon really taught me a lot.

“At the University of Texas, I did musical theater and sang country music. I opened for Wynona Judd at one point and performed at venues throughout the country. And I did a couple plays.”

Most recently, Horne had two works accepted to compete at the 2022 Austin Film Festival, a screenplay which advanced to the Second Round and a short film which will screen as an official selection. The short film, “Flying in the Dark,” uses lively animation and firsthand accounts to tell the story of women in aviation, from World War II to the present day. This film was generously supported by the Austin Film Society’s Harrison McClure grant.

“I did 17 interviews with women pilots,” said Horne. “The main one was with Jeannie Leavitt. She was the first American woman to become a fighter pilot -–and she’s still serving.”

Jeannie Marie Leavitt is a United States Air Force general officer. She became the U.S. Air Force’s first female fighter pilot in 1993 and was the first woman to command a USAF combat fighter wing.

“I did an EP with two songs in 2021,” said Horne. “I’m looking to do some more recording in the spring. I have about five new original songs. It’s jazz or singer/songwriter.

“I did a lot of theater acting when I was a teenager and in college. Now, I’m getting back into acting and have just started taking classes.

“With music, I’m just getting started doing my own shows. I’m very excited to be doing a show in the Philly area.”

Video link for Annika Horne — https://youtu.be/GKEdrcRkj78.

The “Thursday Night Jazz Jam” is a regular feature on Jamey’s calendar while Friday and Saturday night shows feature national and regional acts.

Jamey’s features a popular “Guest Singer Series” on Thursday featuring many of the best singers in the region performing a set from 7-8 p.m. with the backing of the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.

The Dave Reiter Trio lays down the backing for some out of this world jazz to happen, and you never know who might show up to join in. Reiter is a long-time jazz pro and is equally at home on the seven-string guitar, Nord keyboard or the venue’s top of the line Hammond organ setup. Bill Marconi is on drums; his name is known to jazz aficionados around the world. Holding down the bottom is first-call Philly bassist, George Livanos.

Other “Guest Singers” for January will be Geri Oliver on January 19, and Greg Farnese on January 26.

The show with Annika Horne on January 12 will get underway at 7 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge.

Now through January 15, the Kimmel Cultural Campus (250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, www.kimmelculturalcampus.org) is presenting the Philly premiere of the hit Broadway musical, “Jagged Little Pill” at the Academy of Music.

“Jagged Little Pill” is a musical drawn from Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album of the same name – an album that yielded the Number One hit, “You Oughta Know.” The Tony and Grammy-Award winning production was written by Diablo Cody, the award-winning screenwriter of “Juno,” “Jennifer’s Body” and “One Mississippi.”

The show is not a Morissette biopic but rather an original story informed by the Canadian American singer’s poignant lyrics dealing with deals with pain, healing, and empowerment.

For the 74th Tony Awards, “Jagged Little Pill” won two awards on 15 nominations, the most nominations of any show of the 2019–2020 season. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

“Jagged Little Pill” is recommended for ages 14 and up.

This production contains strong language, adult themes, drug use, and moments of sexual violence that some may find triggering. “Jagged Little Pill” addresses many topics of contemporary life, including sexual assault, opiate addiction, transracial adoption, gender and LGBTQIA+ identity, marriage struggles and mental health.

Video link for “Jagged Little Pill” – https://youtu.be/X0Z2dqRNfjQ.

“Jagged Little Pill” will run now through January 15 at the Academy of Music.

Ticket prices range from $20-$129.

Glen Foerd (5001 Grant Avenue, Philadelphia, www.glenfoerd.org) will launch its 2023 arts and culture programming when it hosts EgoPo Classic Theater’s staging of “The Ways of White Folks” from January 11-22.

Published in 1934, “The Ways of White Folks,” is a collection of 14 short stories by American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist Langston Hughes (1901-1967). The collection addresses multiple dimensions of racial issues, focusing specifically on interactions between Black and White people.

The American classic presents powerful portraits of race relations in America. Told with unparalleled candor, each short story offers a private view into the absurd and tragic interactions between White and Black people across systemic divides.

In EgoPo’s immersive promenade staging, audiences are invited to attend a New Age retreat at the historic Glen Foerd Estate on the Delaware River. There they will be welcomed into each character’s room on a tour of the extravagant mansion to witness their intimate and private lives.

Hughes wrote the book during a year he spent living in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.  The collection addresses multiple dimensions of racial issues, focusing specifically on the unbalanced yetinterdependent power dynamics between Black and White people. According to Hughes, the short stories are inspired either by his own lived experiences or those of others he encountered.

Performances will be held January 11-15 and 19-22 at 7 p.m. each night with additional matinee performances on January 15 and 21 at 2 p.m.

General admission tickets are $32 — $12 for students and industry professionals. Masks are required to be worn during all performances.

The Media Theatre (104 East State Street, Media, www.mediatheatre.org) will conclude its run of “The Sound of Music” with performances from January 6-8.

SALT Performing Arts (www.saltpa.com) has announced its second annual local playwright production, “12 Chairs,” by John O’Hara. The new show is running January 13-15 at SALT’s Black Box Theatre (19 Hagerty Boulevard, West Chester).

SALT’s 2023 season kicks off with an original one-act play written by Skippack resident, John O’Hara.

The drama is about mother-daughter relations throughout the years. In summary, Louise, the daughter, is cleaning out her mother’s house-represented by the ‘twelve chairs’ scattered about the set.

As a silent mover moves the chairs off, Louise remembers the moments of their life together–the simple moments of tears, sorrow, and laughter that mark every parent and child. As the years go on (and the chairs disappear), Louise and her mother circle about each other and come back together.

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