Bonnie Koloc “Rediscovered”

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#715 in the Series) is Bonnie Koloc, Rediscovered

Bonnie Koloc arrived in Chicago from Iowa in 1968. Although she was closely associated with the Earl of Old Town, her first club date was at the Quiet Knight, which was then located on Wells Street at that time. 1973 marked the release of her first record on Ovation. Many albums followed with the current release, Rediscovered.

Representing her 15th recorded outing, Bonnie has been known for her original material along with her fine interpretations of songs by other songwriters. Her repertoire crosses many musical genres from folk to jazz and blues, giving her wide appeal to a broad based audience…

Time for full disclosure. I go way back with Bonnie to the mid-70’s. We met while I was doing publicity for the Earl of Old Town and other nightclubs in Chicago. I have always loved Bonnie’s clear and pure, crystalline voice and I’ve considered her choice of material to be stellar. And so perhaps you will think I am prejudiced however, I would still have to say that this is one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard In a long time. And I do listen to a lot of music — just give a listen and judge for yourself.

There are ten tracks on Rediscovered and all have been previously recorded by Bonnie.  This album represents a fresh take on some old favorites, often implementing the use of musical accompaniment not present on other albums. You will hear not just acoustic but also Spanish, steel and electric guitar, bass, mandolin, saxophone, accordion, harmonica, violins, cello and viola on this most recent collection.

Beginning with the first track — “Two Black Guitars” which is a song Bonnie wrote in memory of her brother Jim.  He was seven years older than Bonnie and he was considered to be a fine guitar player.  Jim dearly loved The Everly Brothers, and they play a prominent role in this song  (both “Two Black Guitars “and the 7th track on the album, “Kentucky Dream” were written by Bonnie in her brother’s memory, and the entire album is dedicated to her beloved brother, Jim).

The title “Two Black Guitars” came about when Bonnie attended an Everly Brothers reunion concert in Chicago. The Everly Brothers were playing small black Gibson guitars with mother of pearl inlaid stars, and that vision gave Bonnie added inspiration for this song.  The description of the guitars the brothers were playing became the title for the song, and Bonnie also invokes the names of Don and Phil (Everly) into the lyrics.  Here’s the last verse and chorus of this touching song.

“Two black guitars, two early rock and roll stars. where all of us gone down rocky roads of our own, Don and Phil your voices always will, oh carry me back to his sweet memory…Now he sleeps alone in Alabama, at the foot of the mountain where the green pine tree grows, yes, he sleeps alone in Alabama, and all the sad stories only me and my Mama know…”

At the conclusion of “Two Black Guitars” Bonnie does a few bars of “Bye Bye Love” – an old Everly Brothers favorite.  This positively hits the mark

The second song on the album is “Lie Down by Me” followed by “In the Dark.” Again, these tracks go hand in hand in terms of subject matter and the mood they suggest. “Lie Down by Me” written by New York songwriter Paula Lockheart is breezy and lyrical, yet very seductive. Here, Bonnie encourages the object of her affections to cast aside everything and simply enjoy the moment.

“Let the world go on, it will go on anyhow, let the breezes fly, won’t you lie down by me. And it’s warm outside, let’s think about right now, oh my mood is deep, baby lie down by me. Our fingers will touch, we won’t say much, what is there really to say, except that anything you want to do is perfectly okay. And it’s warm outside let’s think about right now, let the breezes fly, oh, baby lie down by me. Our fingers will touch, we won’t say much. What is there really to say. Except that anything you want to do, is perfectly okay. And it’s warm outside, let’s think about right now. Oh the past is done, oh baby lie down by me. Oh my mood is deep, won’t you lie down by me. Oh my mood is deep won’t you lie down by me.”

With backup from the sweet sounds of a mandolin and harmonica, Bonnie is at her sensuous best here. The song exudes feelings of playfulness and romance.

This takes us to “In the Dark” which is a variation on a theme, this time in a jazzy mood; You can hear the mournful sound of the saxophone being played by Steve Eisen along with the underlining notes of the bass as played by Larry Kohut.  Be forewarned —  playing both songs in succession might just set the mood for a seduction scene with your partner. Adding to all of this, at the very end of “In the Dark,” in honeyed tones, Bonnie gives issues an invitation to “turn out the light…”

“Sunday Morning Movies” is in fourth place.  Long a favorite from Bonnie’s repertoire, this song tells a tale of falling in love with a movie star cowboy.  To my way of thinking, a fanciful dream sequence after seeing a romantic cowboy actor in an old western flick.

“So many times in the middle of the night, your Mama and your Daddy in a great big fight, slamming and screaming, calling names, to their little children they bring a whole lot of pain…that’s how, yes that’s how, that’s how some children learn to sing the blues….”

And so begins “Children’s Blue’s,” the 5th song on the album.  As the title suggests, this composition penned by Bonnie is straight out blues.  The lyrics speak of the damage done to young children when parent’s anger and conflict spills out and affects their young ones.  Big truths told in this song.

“Elis,” which is the 6th track, has a European feel to it.  Both the Spanish guitar, which evokes thoughts of the Mediterranean, and the accordion, which gives the song a decidedly French flair, serve to encourage my imagination in this direction.  Quite lyrical and lovely, it may be the one song on the album that I cannot fully understand or, decipher.  Perhaps if I listen another twenty or more times the story behind Elis will unfold for me.  Or else I will just have to ask Bonnie, the songwriter, for a clue.

As mentioned earlier, “Kentucky Dream,” the 7th track on the album is another song Bonnie wrote back in the 70’s after losing her brother. She is accompanied on both songs by the tasty acoustic and steel guitar work of Chris Siebold (Chris also produced the album) plus the soulful harmonica of Howard Levy.

The 8th song is perhaps my favorite — “Wind on the Water” written by Tom Rush.  It literally takes your breath away — it is that beautiful.  Acoustic guitar and the lovely string section lead off before Bonnie begins singing…

“The wind on the water, it can’t go far, just round this world, forever,  and the way that I love you, it can’t last long,.  Just till this life this crazy life is over.  I see myself in different ways today, I’m on the outside and I’m looking in, and I find myself just wanting nothing, but to be with you again.  And rainbows come from tears of the sun, green and gold glide by and rainbows chase the rain.  The wind on the water, it lets your mind wander.  Pictures in the sky, they come and take your mind away.  I see myself in different ways today.  I’m on the outside and I’m looking in.  And I find myself just wanting nothing, but to be with you again.  And this is just a short song to sing, I hope to see you home again to stay someday, yes I hope to see you home again to stay someday.”

“Colors of the Sun” was written by Jackson Browne and it is the next to the last song on the album.  This is a nice way to follow “Wind on the Water” — as these tracks work well together in succession. The lyrics are sheer poetry and dreamy, but they do cause me to wonder what Jackson Browne intended when he wrote this.  Perhaps I am just one who isn’t content unless they can figure out what the lyrics of a song really mean.  Bonnie is accompanied here by acoustic and steel guitars, and violins.  A short excerpt from “Colors of the Sun”…

“…Wake me where I am I am not losing, if I am choosing not to plan my life. Dissolution savior searched the sky wanting just to show someone the way.  Asking all the people passing by, doesn’t anybody want the way…”.

The last song fittingly is one written by John Prine, “Angel from Montgomery” which has been covered by many artists.  Since Bonnie and John came up on the Chicago music scene around the same time, including a John Prine song seems like a very appropriate choice.  And Bonnie does not disappoint.  It’s absolutely perfect the way it is but, I could not help but think what it would be like to hear Bonnie and John do this tune together, perhaps in harmony on the chorus.  Bonnie’s voice soars on the high notes, and the violin parts go the distance.  A fine way to close out this truly memorable album.  Bravo, Bonnie!  You do not disappoint.

Bonnie has come full circle, returning to live in her beloved state of Iowa.  She has been married for over 20 years to her husband Robert, who was a journalist for the Chicago Tribune; they have two little dogs named Scruff and Lola. It seems that Scruff has a hankering for a career in show business.  Bonnie often travels with the dogs and when Scruff hears Bonnie singing, he wanders out on stage and joins her in song.  He took part in Bonnie’s recent performance at the Old Town School of Folk Music, where he did a duet with her on “Howling at the Moon.”  The audience stood up from their seats and applauded their approval.

Bonnie Koloc’s next appearance will be at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, on Sunday, the 24th of June.  She will be part of a concert in tribute to the 80th birthday of Earl Pionke (The Earl of Old Town).  There will be approximately twenty other musicians on the bill with Bonnie that night.  Club seats are sold out, however tickets for a simulcast in the tent situated right outside of Fitzgerald’s are still available from TicketWeb and also from Fitzgerald’s for $10.00.  A 14″ foot high definition screen and sound system will be installed in the tent for this event.  You can watch and listen to four hours of great music on a lovely summer’s night.  There will be bar service in the tent and the musicians will be spending time out there while they are waiting for their turn to go on.  It should be a very special evening of music.

The CD of Bonnie’s new album “Rediscovered” (plus some of her other titles) is available for purchase from CD Baby.  You can also visit Bonnie’s website at Bonnie’s Official Website.  And if you plan to attend the concert at Fitzgerald’s, after the show Bonnie will have copies of her CD available.  As a bonus, she will be glad to autograph one for you with purchase!

— Marina Jason

Track Listing

  1. Two Black Guitars (Bonnie Koloc) 5:03
  2. Lie Down By Me (Paula Lockheart) 3:25
  3. In The Dark (Lil Green) 4:23
  4. Sunday Morning Movies (Bonnie Koloc) 3:26
  5. Children’s Blues (Bonnie Koloc) 4:03
  6. Elis (Bonnie Koloc, Howard Levy) 3:42
  7. Kentucky Dream (Bonnie Koloc) 4:27
  8. Wind on the Water (Tom Rush) 4:31
  9. Colors of the Sun (Jackson Browne) 3:11
  10. Angel From Montgomery (John Prine) 3:59

Personnel

  • Bonnie Koloc – acoustic guitar, vocals

Main band

  • Larry Kohut – bass
  • Howard Levy – harmonica
  • John Rice – dobro, mandolin, fiddle
  • Chris Seibold – Spanish, lap steel, electric, resonator and acoustic guitar

Additional Musicians

  • Wendy Cotton – cello
  • Steve Eisen – tenor saxophone
  • John Elmquist – string arrangement
  • Jennifer Lowe – violin
  • Andreanna Moravec – viola
  • Don Stille – accordion
  • Gina Young – violin

Links

Posted by Larry Carta

3 Comments

  1. ray brettman (23 Jun 2012, 14:46)
    Reply

    Great job Marina! Its hard writing that much stuff I know.
    Certainly recall Steve Eisen, I think he is about my age, have seen him in this or that local jazz ensemble, Chevere comes to mind, a nice player. Howard Levy I know too, generally considered to be a master of several instruments I believe, particularly harmonica. Me….I ain’t so sure he’s that good. He did have a nice play about 20 years ago with Jerry Garcia and the Word Jazz Man, Ken Nordine on a piece called “The Flibberty Jib” that was just outstanding. Proud of you girl!

  2. Fred Kann (27 Jun 2012, 20:18)
    Reply

    Howard plays with Chevere too. Good work Bonnie and everyone!

    • Larry Carta (28 Jun 2012, 23:41)
      Reply

      That’s a great band Fred. They’ve been doing it for a long time too!



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