Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 7:30 pm
Karla Bonoff has been described as one of the finest singer/songwriters of her generation.
With a career spanning four decades, Bonoff has enjoyed critical acclaim, commercial success, enduring popularity and the unwavering respect of her peers. In addition to achieving chart success with her own recordings, Karla has seen her songs become hits for such stellar artists as Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd and Linda Ronstadt. Many of Bonoff’s ballads are now pop classics. All the while, she has continued to tour extensively, playing sold-out shows around the world. Karla’s moving vocals on her rich, expressive songs is like standing beneath a sparkling waterfall--refreshing, exhilarating, restorative. And hearing them live can be transformative.
In 2007, nearly 40 year into her writing, recording and performing, the singularly gifted singer/songwriter had at last produced a live album. Karla Bonoff Live is a superb two-CD set containing 21 songs, including some of Bonoff’s most popular material (“All My Life,” “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” “Tell Me Why,” and “Lose Again”) plus two new compositions. Many fans and critics prefer Bonoff’s own renditions of her songs, and they won’t be disappointed here. Like her performances, the instrumentation is clean and spare, giving Bonoff’s voice room to work its emotional magic on the listener. Live is Bonoff’s first solo album since 1999, when she released a 16-song greatest hits collection, All My Life: The Best of Karla Bonoff (Columbia/Legacy).
Born and raised in Southern California, Karla Bonoff was a songwriter by the age of fifteen. She had already fallen in love with the guitar and studied with Frank Hamilton of the famous folk group, The Weavers. By 16, Karla and her sister Lisa auditioned for Elektra Records. An 11-song demo [recorded by Doors' engineer Bruce Botnick] was recorded but no deal came of this first effort.
Karla's passion was always music. She became friends with other singer-songwriters and musicians [in the '60s] who were creating their own unique sound. She used to line up at the legendary Troubadour at noon on Mondays to get a slot in the famous Monday night Troubadour "hoot," which was a breaking ground for many artists who went on to great success. She says, "It was an amazing time. Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Elton John were around the Troubadour in those days." There were some other writer-singers who became friends of Karla's, and eventually, they decided to put a band together. They were Kenny Edwards, (who had started the Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt and Bobby Kimmel), Wendy Waldman, and Andrew Gold. Something powerful in their combined sound drew them together. Thus the band Bryndle was born - one of the early songwriter groups, even before the Eagles. The band made an album for A&M, but it was never released. They were, unfortunately, a bit ahead of their time.
In 1977, Linda Ronstadt scored a big hit with a song written by Bonoff, even while Karla herself was signed as a solo artist to Columbia Records in 1977. There, she had a hit single with "I Can't Hold On" and the tune "Home," which later wound up on one of Bonnie Raitt's albums. Bonoff embarked on a solo tour to promote her album, and by the time she reached Seattle, "I Can't Hold On" was Number 1 in the Pacific Northwest. "I was headlining and I barely had enough songs to play," Karla recalls, still amazed at the memory. "So I just kept playing them longer!" She went from there to coveted spots on major tours, opening for James Taylor and Jackson Browne and earning a rave review in Time magazine. Two subsequent albums, "Restless Nights" [released in 1979] and "Wild Heart of the Young" [released in 1982], established Karla as one of LA's major artists and songwriters.