Uncle Bonsai trio the Tim Burton of music
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent March 28, 2012 2:52PM
From left: Uncle Bonzai members include (from left) Patrice O'Neill, Andrew Ratshin and Arni Adler. | Photo Provided~Sun-Times Media
If you go
Pop-folk trio Uncle Bonsai performs at 8 p.m. March 30 at Great Oaks After Four Club, 13109 Wicker Ave., Cedar Lake, in a benefit for L’arc en Ciel Theatre Group. Tickets are $15. Call 374-8000 or 365-3197 for tickets. For more information, visit www.unclebonsai.com
Updated: May 1, 2012 8:09AM
The folly of being young and loathe to create a back story for Uncle Bonsai has haunted Arni Adler for decades, but in a good way.
The harmonic, folk-on-acid trio’s unusual name comes from a character a fellow Bennington College classmate had created during undergrad back in the ’70s, said Adler, one-third of the trio that’s stopping in Northwest Indiana Friday night. Adler had never seen the character in action, but she recalls the description of him as being “affable and cute in sort of a bumbling way.”
“He was a wonderful character, but I’ve kind of regretted naming the group after him,” Adler said, laughing. “I wish we had a better story for it.”
Founded in Seattle, the group — comprised of Adler, a 1976 Lake Central High School graduate; guitarist and chief songwriter Andrew Ratshin; and most recently Patrice O’Neill — likely wouldn’t describe their soaring harmonies and rapid-fire lyrics as “cute,” unless one could call the works of filmmaker Tim Burton “cute.”
“Our sensibilities are much like (Burton’s ) not in the fantastical way, but in the dark humor way,” Adler said. “We deal with a lot of dysfunctional relationships and family type issues, and we’re pretty funny.”
Last summer, Adler met up with former Lake Central Theatre Guild royalty Angie and Paul Lowe, who now run L’arc en Ciel Theatre Guild out of the Great Oaks After Four Club. From that meeting, Adler suggested Uncle Bonsai do a benefit for LCTG while they were in the Midwest, Angie Lowe said.
“Arlene’s (Adler’s given name) talent for music, writing quirky and interesting original lyrics, and her showmanship are one of a kind,” Angie Lowe said.
It’s also a labor of love for Adler, who credits the Lowes for fostering her interest in the arts.
“The Lowes were so important to me back then because they were always there for the kids who were kind of on the outside,” Adler said.