When asked to describe her music, Haley Bonar described it one word, “honest.”
Bonar has been playing the piano since a young age, and guitar since she was 14. She recorded her first album, “Haley Bryn Bonar,” in the attic of a farmhouse when she was 17.
Bonar, 27, grew up in Rapid City, S.D., and graduated from RC Central in 2001. For her graduation present, her parents paid to have 1,000 copies of her first album pressed.
The album bore the signature of someone who was punk, but not really punk rock—she owned an acoustic guitar and created folk songs of her own style, yet liberally innocent of the concept of “anti-folk.”
Her follow-up release, “The Size of Planets,” landed her on the radar. It was released on Low’s Chairkicker’s Union label, and inspired by the greats: Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn. Voted one of the best albums of 2003 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it received rave reviews from the likes of the Philadelphia City Paper, Minneapolis City Pages, Chicago Sun Times, Pulse Magazine, and Alternative Press.
Following high school graduation, Bonar attended classes at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She eventually quit to tour and pursue her love of music.
Bonar will be live in concert at the Richard G. Hardy Performing Arts Center at Cambridge-Isanti High School, on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $16 to $20.
“I enjoy performing because people listen and we have fun,” Bonar said. “At the Cambridge performance, people can expect a lot of new songs.”
“Golder,” Bonar’s fifth full-length album, debuts April 19, and she is holding an official CD release party Friday, April 22, at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.
“Golder is a short album with short songs, but plays like a film and sounds like the places I was while I was writing these songs,” Bonar said.
Bonar has aspirations of taking the band on tour all over the country to promote “Golder.” To help with this endeavor, Bonar started a Kickstarter Web page, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/haleybonar/lets-get-golder, in hopes of raising funds. On this Web page, fans of Bonar can pledge money to Bonar’s cause.
“Your money will go toward the pressing of the CD, the purchase of a (used) van, and an investment to help with the promotion of the record,” Bonar wrote on the Kickstarter Web page. “I want to get it to as many ears as possible and bring my amazing band on tour with me all over the country.”
Bonar said she is playing with some amazing folks right now, including Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, Alpha Consumer), Luke Anderson (Rogue Valley), Jacob Hanson (Mason Jennings, Halloween Alaska), and Michael Lewis (Happy Apple, Andrew Bird), who have all contributed to Golder and put on an incredible performance live.
Bonar also writes her own songs. She said she draws inspiration for her songs from “everything between dreaming and waking up.”
Bonar names Terrance Malick, Louis Erdrich, Toots and the Maytals, Nirvana and the Pixies, as her favorite groups.
Besides full-length albums, Bonar has released several EPs.
Bonar’s fourth full-length album, Big Star, was released in 2008. The album was named one of City Pages and Star Tribune’s best local albums of 2008; and 89.3 The Current (Minnesota Public Radio) named Big Star one of its top songs (number 28) in 2008.
Big Star was recorded at the Terrarium in Minneapolis and mixed by noted engineer Tchad Blake (Tom Waits, The Bad Plus, Elvis Costello, Pearl Jam) who brings all of the subtle textures of the recordings to life. Haley played guitars, melotron and keyboards, and was joined by Chris Morrissey (Ben Kweller) on bass, Dave King (The Bad Plus) on drums, Bill Mike on electric guitar and Luke Anderson on additional drums.
Bonar has toured with Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings, Mary Lou Lord, Richard Buckner, and Charlie Parr—domestically and internationally—as well as shared stages with Neko Case, Pedro the Lion, the Arcade Fire, and Wanda Jackson.