Haley Bonar had already recorded an album as a teenager before leaving Rapid City, SD for Duluth, MN—where she immediately recorded again. Alan Sparhawk heard her at a local Iron Range club one night and a week later, she was transformed from a college student to an ambitious dropout with her guitar and a drummer crammed into a Honda Civic opening for Low. She was nineteen years old. That’s a story already.
But—there is more to this story. In the last decade, Haley has released eight more recordings to critical acclaim and mounting success: lots of touring, playing festivals, capturing awards and artist grants, inventive video productions, placing song tracks on prime TV shows and popular film, appearing on myriad Best-Of lists while continuing to write and perform locally. Oh… and she also had a baby in there somewhere. It’s no accident that her creative prowess drew the attention and respect of fellow collaborators like Dave King, Andrew Bird and Justin Vernon, not to mention the company she keeps in a rotating cast of premium band members including Jake Hanson (Halloween Alaska, Mason Jennings), Jeremy Hanson (Tapes ‘n Tapes), Luke Anderson (Rogue Valley), Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, Alpha Consumer) and Mike Lewis (Bon Iver, Alpha Consumer).
Haley’s musical adventure took on a passenger in the wack theatrics of her no/new-wave punkish side project Gramma’s Boyfriend with an attention-getting album already behind them and an audience building in front of them. She is always throwing a curve ball or adding another dimension, akin to her heroes: Joni Mitchell, Mark Mothersbaugh, Laurie Anderson, Amy Sedaris, Maria Bamford, Louis C.K., Margaret Atwood and Cookie Mueller. Like them, she remains true to her artistry regardless of trend, politic or scripted gender barriers.
Haley Bonar is more than a hard working musician. She is an innovator, creative ass-kicker and visionary dug into the trenches of living. She writes genuine, epochal and poetic tales that feel like our heartbreak, failure, frustration and joy. In a clear, insistent and often haunting voice, she tells real stories back to us, as if they were our own. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
I have dreams about the end of the story
there’s no explosions
there’s never any holy glory
just a bunch of people
lost and sleepy
trying to find someone
Haley Bonar / Bad Reputation