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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Led Zeppelinnnnnnn

Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin
(Bonne Finken live at The Temple Theater in Des Moines, IA)

Huge shout out to OCEANWIDE STUDIOS for the video capture during a tricky show to capture. More video to come...

It's been a crazy busy past three weeks.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Show Review: Bonne at The Temple Theater (6/19/14)


Bonne Finken has arrived.

That might sound like a strange thing to say about the winner of Cityview's Best Local Musician award for 2014, but it's the truth.

Finken's first two albums—good in their own right—exhibit a kind of proto-Finken; the first relies too heavily on the directions of others, and the second is a schizophrenic jumble of ideas. Both albums, as well as Finken's "Live at the Loft," teased flashes of her potential, but the album release show for “FairyTales/LoveAffairs” (our review here) at the Temple for the Performing Arts this past week was her coming out party.

For the first time in her career, Finken completely followed the song of her own siren. For the first time in her career, we can say that we've heard Finken's fully-realized sound. And it's beautiful.

After playing with a revolving door of musicians for most of her career, Finken has more or less settled on one lineup from here on. Jon Locker continues to hold down the low end, and if he's not the best bassist in the city, he's at least in the photo. He's joined in rhythm by timekeeper Russ Tomlinson, who provides Finken with more of a rock edge to her music than she's had in the past, and who's vocals on “Gone” are preferable to those on the album.

Christine Parmerlee backing up Finken on vocals // Antonio Rodriguez

Christine Parmerlee supplied Finken with back-up vocals and show producer Pat Williams provided an assist to the musicians in the form of a turntable and mac, but maybe the most inspired move Finken has made with her band is the addition of Michael Pfaff.

Trained at the New England Conservatory, the current Snacks/former Dirty Little Rabbits keyboardist might just be the most underrated musician in the city. In the Collective, Pfaff spreads his talent across three instruments, and does them all well. His keyboard work (once again, “Gone” is a great example) was excellent across the board, and he added a great deal of depth and warmth to the songs with the xylophone. If she can hang on to him, Pfaff's versatility, talent and personality will make him the second most valuable member of Finken's crew, behind The Woman herself.

Midway through the set, Finken rolled out her special guest, guitarist Seth Hedquist. Hedquist has been lending his considerable talent to bands around the city for a while now, and he and Finken have a long, comfortable working relationship. The pair took the stage alone for an acoustic break in the middle of an otherwise production-heavy set, and it was an excellently timed change of pace.

The show's flaws were all minor. Finken was clearly more nervous than I'd ever seen her before, and between songs her banter sounded shaky and rushed; Finken and Hedquist's cover of Imagine Dragons' “Radioactive” only served to throw the absurdity inherent in the song's lyrics into harsh light; Parmerlee's vocals were often overpowered by everything else that was going on.

The biggest trip-up of the night came during the lead in to (I assume) “Step Back Baby," after Headquist had left the stage and the rest of the band returned. Places were taken, and the band waited for Williams' tracked lead-in. But nothing came. After an awkward minute, the DJ realized that he needed to restart his computer.

However, one of the great advantages of having talented musicians playing live instruments is the ability to improvise. And, as Williams restarted his software, Locker announced “let's get Seth back!” Hedquist joined the band, and Finken launched into an impromptu cover of Led Zeppelin's “Whole Lotta Love," which wound up being one of the show's highlights. Shortly thereafter, Williams was ready to go, and “Step Back Baby” thundered over the audience while the music video played in the background.

Everything about “FairyTales/LoveAffairs”—the album, the show, the experience—is a success. It's the best Finken has ever sounded, and it's the truest she's ever been to herself. The show was grand, theatrical, beautiful and expertly timed and produced. The songs that make up the album (Finken deserves possibly her biggest round of applause for the album arrangement) showcase everything in Finken's bag from synth-pop dance hits to gut-wrenching ballads, and this “permanent” band line-up breathed fresh life into Finken's previous work as well.

Though this is a pop album, it shouldn't be taken to mean that Finken is—has always been—a pop musician. Finken has bristled at the idea of being pigeonholed into any one genre, and when you see her perform, it's easy to see why. This album went pop, because that's where the songs took her. The next album might be bluesier. Or it might have more rock influence. But in the end, it probably won't matter much.

Because Des Moines' Best Local Musician has arrived, and she's finally shown everyone that the one thing she does best of all, is Bonne Finken.

Pictured From Left to Right: Seth Hedquist, Michael Pfaff, Pat Williams, Bonne Finken, Christine Parmerlee, Russ Tomlinson, and Jon Locker

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meet the band...

I’m not sure where to start.

Sooo much has happened...the album is out and doing well. "Step Back Baby" is even getting regular airplay on STAR 102.5 in Des Moines which is incredible. I probably should talk about that and some other cool things surrounding the album. But right honor of my upcoming show at The Temple Theater June 19th....I think I’d like to take this time to talk about the people I've been spending a lot of time with. I'd like to very proudly introduce: the band...

PAT WILLIAMS (DJ, Auxiliary Percussionist, Playback Engineer)
I only just met Pat this past April – however – I honestly can’t imagine putting on this show without him. I’m going to have a hard time seeing him leave to go back to role as tour tech for K$sha and Slipknot.
I need to hurry up & sell, oh, a million or so more albums so I can keep him on MY team. *foot stomp*

If anyone knows Jimmy Iovine – please send him to Des Moines on June 19th.

Pat not only co-produced my dance/pop song “Let’s Play” from Fairytales/LoveAffairs but he is making an appearance at a handful of my summer shows as well as acting as Show Producer for the June 19th Fairytales/LoveAffairs Concert Event. Beyond that – he has acted as a mentor and kindred spirit to me regarding a vision I’ve had for years and couldn’t figure out how to do it all myself.

RUSS TOMLINSON (Drums, Vocals, Auxiliary Percussion)
Holy Mother of Rock - - this man is AMAZZZZZZZING behind a drumkit. Or in front of one. Or with the kit broke apart and on it’s side. Or on marching band toms. Or with a shaker. Or banging on a metal keyboard leg, like he did while recording “Please” from Fairytales/LoveAffairs. I met Russ around midnight on a Sunday night a year ago or so – when I was in the studio with producer Brandon Darner working on “Absence of Fear”. We had thought, originally, the song wouldn’t need a live drum kit on the recording. But late into the process - after my final vocals had already been laid – on my last night in the studio – we decided to ‘try it’. I thought ‘who in the world could I call at 10pm on a Sunday to come play drums that may or may not end up getting cut from the song immediately after’.
Brandon said ‘I know someone’.
He called Russ, and within 90 minutes Russ showed up ready to do whatever it was that needed done on a song he’d never heard for a girl he’d never met. I am forever grateful for that night - - it wasn’t until 6 months later that I called Russ and asked if he’d consider playing with my live band. He said ‘yes’ and ended up recording drums on nearly every song on this album. Russ is such a presence on this album, bringing to life percussion heavy songs ‘Fall’, ‘I’MNOTWAITING’, etc. When I first heard these songs in my head I was prepared for my ideas to end up being manipulated into more “normal” drum parts. Instead – Russ dove in full on and helped me make the songs the exact way I hoped for – if not better. I really am forever grateful that I met him when I did. I’m very proud for people to hear him live on June 19th. If any band tries to steal him away from me – I will physically hurt you.
P.S. He sings , too
P.P.S. His drums on ‘Absence of Fear’ didn’t get cut ;-)

MICHAEL PFAFF (Keys, Percussion, Auxiliary Percussion)
I decided to take a break from performing around 8 months ago. Partly to complete my new album, without the work that comes along with being a band leader and booking manager. I wanted to be free to overthink my songs and not rush through decisions made too hastily due to wanting to just: check things off a mental list.
Partly because I honestly started to really lose my love for performing. The girl known for on stage passion was starting to hate it. Dread it. Borderline depressed about the thought of it.
Around March of this past year, as the album started to wrap up and I was able to start to see sunlight again, I realized I was going to NEED to start thinking about performing again. But I wasn’t over my dreading it phase yet. I knew I couldn’t go back to how things were ran and sounding in my past bands. That’s nothing against any of my past players. I’ve always held a pretty high standard when it came to hiring players and I don’t think anyone could say I didn’t have the best and most professional players with me at all times. But something was always missing. I honestly couldn’t have spoken outloud what it was – I don’t think I could identify it until I went thru and learning all I went thru and learned over the past 18 months of my life.

I know even up until this past March – I was not looking forward to performing again. That ‘something’ had been identified by that time – but I had no clue how to go about fixing it or finding love in performing like I did back when I was too new to understand what was missing.
I can identify what that “something” was now. That something was Michael Pfaff.

Michael is not only a multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire. But Michael likes to remind me: “You know this kicks ass. I know this kicks ass. Let’s go kick ass together.”

I'm SO looking forward to performing again.....and it feels good to feel this way. I missed it.

I am fairly positive Mike is going to be a scene stealer. And that's more than alright with me.

JON LOCKER (Bass Guitar)
Mr. Jon Locker. THE Jon Locker. For anyone who knows anything about music in Iowa – you probably know why I say ‘THE’ Jon Locker.

He is as ‘please don’t’ put a spotlight on me please’ as a musician as you can get. But at the same time as ‘uh, where’s the spotlight for that guy’ as a player as there is, too.

As awesome as he is on bass guitar (and he really is ACTUALLY awesome...not awesome like ‘That shirt is awesome’...but awesome like the actual read definition of awesome that very rarely is ever actually applicable in a sentence) his true talent will probably never ever be fully revealed because he is the secret ingredient behind many, many of the success the Des Moines music scene has at all.

If someone played the six degrees of separation game with Locker I'd bet just about every venue in the state would need to shake his hand and thank him for the fact there are any Iowa bands in any form of working operation at all.

Jon is co-owner of The Sonic Factory Studios and co-producer on 70% of my work. This guy has become a musical brother and was with me from day one of album one in 2007 allllllllll the way to today.

He is such a good bandmate that even if a stage light is shining in my face too much – I for some reason turn to Jon like he can fix it. I never worry with him around. He’s an ace up the sleeve and I’m lucky to have him on stage with me.

So…I feel like all I need to say is: there will now be this hot blonde on stage with the band. BUT…I won’t take away credit like that. She was my very first phone call when I decided to take the plunge with the new band/show. I knew that #1….I needed someone who was not only technical but someone who I knew had a similar work ethic. I knew we'd be wandering into new territory and that is never, ever easy. Then....after meeting with her simply to talk tech....I found out she also has years of experience as a singer and very happily begun learning my gauntlet of backing vocals. She has risen to a huge challenge and does so with a voice of an angel & a calm cool that I am seriously very very jealous off.

And last but definately not least...the person I will work the HARDEST to never make mad right before a show... ;)

JOSH JEPSEN (Audio Engineer, Technical Director)
I have known Josh since I was singing BeeGee's cover in a disco band. We've been able to work together here and there over the years, and he became good enough of a source and friend that I when I used to try & run my own sound (used to...usssssed to) I could call him in panic mode and no matter where he was in the world (which was usually always at waaaay cooler shows than what I was calling from) he would answer and help me through figuring out what in the F was going on with my equipment. He helped me a lot when he didn't have any reason to help me other than to be a good person...and now I'm absolutely mother-effing thrilled he is now the engineer at all of my shows. I will not be saying "yes" to any show offers unless Josh can be with us. He has calmly helped us through what could have been a NIGHTMARE of a rehearsal process and we have come out the other end pleasantly and surprisingly calm and prepared.... If you see him running around crazy at a show, please try and say 'You rock' to him? Maybe AFTER he is done running around crazy, some point. He is never on stage while the lights are on. But please trust me...he is on stage more than any of us before and after.

We will also be having my good friend and extraordinary guitar player SETH HEDQUIST making some appearances throughout the show
All I need to say about Seth is I've played with him for three years now...and will always look for ways to include him in my music & life. Coming to rip faces on 'Hang On' is just a bonus to having him around =)

So there is a very quick rundown of who I've been spending most of the last few months with. I can not wait to take the stage in three days with this group of people. I hope you join us =)

Here are some random pics of the process...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

'Best Local Musician'

Sooo....this is pretty awesome? =)

THANK YOU to every single person that voted for me AND to Cityview Magazine. You can READ ARTICLE HERE. I'm very grateful that my work is/was recognized and that my fans are thinking of me, even while I hide out in the studio =)

It makes me even more anxious and excited to release this new's very nice to feel like my work has the support of my city =)

Much love and music,

p.s. You can download the first single 'Step Back Baby' PLEASE CLICK HERE TO BUY ON ITUNES for just 99¢ Any & all honest ratings/reviews of the song are sincerely appreciated, too. Annnnd to directly counter-act that - you can hear the song for free by checking out the MUSIC VIDEO HERE =) #notasaleswoman

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Send 'Step Back Baby' to SXSW


This post is asking for something I actually hate asking for....I'm asking for some votes. I want to send my baby, 'Step Back Baby' (see video/hear song below) to the South By Southwest music festival in March..

South by Southwest is an annual film and music festival/conference held in Austin, Texas.

I actually performed at this festival in 2009 - when my very first album was released.
(see me below at the SXSW festival - I didn't have an iPhone back then, my apologies for the quality of photo)

I didn't quite understand WHAT the festival was at that point - that's how new to the entire music-everything I was.

Now I's for networking - and hopefully: getting your music heard by as many people as possible.

So I'm excited to say my song 'Step Back Baby' has a shot at making it to Austin, TX this year.

The Greater Des Moines Music Coalition is putting together a compilation of Iowa musicians - and have it narrowed down to the top 20 songs. It's called The CarpeDM Music Compilation CD. This will be distributed at the Iowa Reception (presented by the Partnership, in collaboration with the State of Iowa) at SXSW on March 9. They now need help whittling it down to 12 songs. Cue: voting by the public =)

Please CLICK HERE to vote for 'Step Back Baby' - if you think it's good enough to be represent Iowa =)

I appreciate it - thanks to everyone for their continued support & reading =)

Much love & music,

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Necessary Post

Hello! It's snowing outside and I just had my 3pm appointment unexpectedly need to reschedule - so I find myself with an afternoon: off.

Whenever I find myself with unscheduled free time on my hands I feel like I'm doing something wrong. These are the problems of a workaholic, I believe.

My son is now old enough he's off with friends. My boyfriend is comfortably watching the Iowa game. And normally I always can work on new songs or the album recordings when I have a few spare hours, but right now: I won't let myself write. I'll instantly think anything fresh/new is better - just out of over-brain-saturation of the album songs at this point. And I won't let myself do anymore work on the album songs until they're mixed - or else: it. will. never. end.

So as random of a post as this it a blog for the sake of saving the album a very roundabout way.

So, I've had these reading glasses for around a decade.

I don't need to wear them outside the house - - or even anywhere else other than while working on the computer. I have trouble seeing text on computer screen sometimes....but have had to just deal with it for the past 5-7 years or so, because I lost the glasses.

I actually thought they were gone, like, destroyed...not lost. I've moved around 740 times since the last I remember seeing them - and thought they were a casualty of my once nomad life.

But I'm proud to say I've been living in the same place for a close to four years now - - and out of seriously nowhere - there they lay one day on one of our chairs, still in their case, ready for me to wear now.

It did make me think of a higher power (even if that higher power worked thru my boyfriend as he cleaned out boxes from storage).

As insignificant of a thing glasses truly are in the big picture - it feels like around five years ago the universe said 'Weeee'll just hang onto those until you're ready to have them' *invisible pat on my head by the universe*.

I'm happy to say I do believe the universe must agree that I am (now) able to handle treating Gucci reading glasses like they're more valuable than a pack of mechanical pencils. Which, I believe, is a good thing.....

...? =) I am grateful they made it through the past seven years somehow. I can stop using my E.T. neck to write blogs now.

I think I'm going to having a bowl of strawberry ice cream.


An Adult

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bringing a song to life...

"Wishing we could put up fights like books away"

This is my favorite lyric of one of my new songs, My Heart.

Vocalist, Sarah Draffen & Drumer, Jason Handy are my favorite parts of the song.

I wrote this song about two years ago.

I always heard it as a dramatic piece with strings and non-traditional drums....and unfortunately to my non-NYC-living-self, I also heard an opera singer.

I mentioned this off-hand when I demo'd this song over a year ago, but the idea & song were pushed into a pile of around 30 songs - - with a group "we'll cross the opera-bridge if & when we ever need to" mentality.

There were a lot of other songs that DIDN'T require an opera singer. We started with those. =)

Fast Forward to Six Month Ago: Well four producers & a year of work later...the song has made it through the gauntlet of cuts and is now very much being considered as one of the fourteen album songs.

As I was seeing that it was making it past the cuts, I knew it needed the non-traditional drums added quickly to keep it from sounding 'Ballad Rock Song 101-esque' and ultimately: cut.

So, I reached out to someone I've never recorded talented friend Jason Handy - drummer for a pretty kickass band, Dead Horse Trauma.

I sent him the demo and asked him to listen first, explained it would be a cross of Evanescence & Lana Del Ray, and see if it was something up his alley.

As I hoped - - Jason sent me TWO different versions of the drums/percussion back to choose from. Both COMPLETELY creative. One version being awesome. One version being even more awesome.

The even more awesome one will be on the album. =)

The song was somehow really starting to come to life....but again - got pushed to the back burner, as we kept working on songs that did NOT have the high opera hurdle to clear.....

Fast Forward to One Month Ago - Christmas Time 2013:
I get a text from Jon Locker (co-producer) that during the holidays he had discovered HIS COUSIN.....sings opera. And is very very very good.

Holy Mother of Everything Music - I believe this song is meant to be.

One Week Ago: Sarah Draffen comes in around 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. I sing her the parts....she sings them back to me perfectly, with that wonderful strong operatic vibrato. My boyfriend was taking photos from in front of her and said he could feel actual wind coming from her mouth... =)

3:45PM.....Sarah is hugging us goodbye & is on her way. Officially THE fastest learner and she seriously nailed it. After she leaves, Mr. Locker says "I don't get, ya know, like, emotional but...that was beautiful".

Sometimes, as an independent artist, I get very frustrated that I don't just have anything I want within reach - since I'm limited by budget & access...and budget. But then again, in times like this, I'm very proud to be independent. Whatever it is in my brain, as long as I find a way to make it happen, I get to do.

I'm very proud of this song. And I feel very lucky that I got to make it my way. It's mine & it's real. And I get to share it with you very soon.

Much love & music,