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UNCLE BONSAI is performing at Twisted Oak Winery in Vallecito on Friday, July 5. Courtesy photo


Uncle Bonsai performing at concert series

By From page B11 | July 05, 2013

What: Twisted Folk Concert Series — Uncle Bonsai

Who: Twisted Oak Winery

Where: 4280 Red Hill Road at Highway 4 in Vallecito

When: Friday, July 5 starting at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: $20 advance, $18 for Twisted Few wine club members. The day of the event is $25 at the gate, if available. Children 12 and under are admitted free

Information: 209-736-9080 or visit

Twisted Oak Winery announces a special concert in the 2013 Twisted Folk Concert Series — celebrating its ninth anniversary of making and serving wine in Calaveras County — featuring hilarious folk artists Uncle Bonsai.

“If you’ve ever had a mother or father, son or daughter, dog, cat, baby, in-laws — you’ll laugh until your sides hurt,” said winery co-owner Mary Stai. “Everyone can relate to the humor in Uncle Bonsai’s songs.”

The show will be on Friday, July 5 at 4280 Red Hill Road at Highway 4 in Vallecito.

Anniversary dinners is pork shoulder slow-roasted in an underground pit barbecue, grilled smart chicken, black bean and corn salad, and a refreshing feta-watermelon salad. All of this deliciousness will be available for purchase, along with yummy Twisted Oak wine, popcorn and soft drinks.

Concertgoers are welcome to bring their own picnics but no outside alcoholic beverages be allowed.

Seating at Twisted Folk concerts is outdoor festival style, first-come, first-served — bring a low beach-type chair or a blanket. We’re on top of a hill and there is always an evening breeze. It can get a little chilly after dark so plan ahead.

Twisted Oak Winery is located in the foothills of Calaveras County and specializes in wines made from Mediterranean varieties like tempranillo, viognier and petite sirah.

Seattle folk-pop legends Uncle Bonsai sing intricate arrangements that owe as much to the Beatles — or the Turtles — as Sondheim and even classical motets.

New York-born and classically trained, Bonsai’s primary songwriter, Andrew Ratshin, possesses an almost manic and obsessive wit and careful attention to details of rhythm and rhyme in his lyrics, which in part pay tribute to Tom Lehrer and Stephen Sondheim — highly alliterative, and delivered rapid-fire.

Bonsai’s songs often champion the underdog, the odd man out, the dejected and despised, the “rounded up unpopulars” — in one’s own family, in society and even more broadly, sadly enough, in the universe.

Patrice O’Neill, Arni Adler and Ratshin’s “pitch-perfect” angelic voices swap lines in a whir but are laced with barbed humor. Taking good-natured stabs at society’s foibles, the effect is something like what you’d get if Tim Burton or Edward Gorey wrote tunes for the American Songbook. Though the lyrics reveal a gentle reflective side at times, they are most often hysterically irreverent.

The band launched in the early 1980s, opening shows for Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainright III, Bonnie Raitt, 10,000 Maniacs, and co-billing with They Might Be Giants and The Bobs, among others, somewhat mystifying record label categorization. After an extended hiatus with only intermittent performances, the group resumed touring and recording in 2008.

The group will celebrate the release of its illustrated bedtime book/CD for grown-ups, “Monsters in the Closet/Go to Sleep” — two tauntingly twisted tales for tormented parents.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the show is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 advance, $18 for Twisted Few wine club members. The day of the event tickets are $25 at the gate, if available. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

For more information call 209-736-9080 or visit

Twisted Oak

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