Headlining this year’s Florence Winter Music Festival is Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff.
The two-day event will take place January 28-29 at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St. in Florence, and will be broadcast live. Music fans can warm up their winter with six bands of scorching bluegrass, heartwarming New York and traditional folk, and jaw-dropping Americana.
Bonoff has enjoyed critical acclaim, commercial success, enduring popularity, and unwavering respect from his peers. Many of his songs have become hits for Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd and Linda Ronstadt. People magazine named Bonoff, a Grammy-winning duo for Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, one of the five most popular wedding songs.
Bonoff released her self-titled debut album in 1977. Her recording of “Personally” peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1982. She also recorded “Somebody’s Eyes” for the Footloose ( 1984) soundtrack, had his own top ten hit, “Standing Right Next to Me”, from the movie 8 Seconds (1994), and just released a new Christmas single with Michael McDonald.
According to his website, KarlaBonoff.com, Bonoff was born and raised in Southern California and was a songwriter by the age of 15. She befriended other singer-songwriters and musicians in the 1960s who were creating their own unique sound. She talks about lining up at the legendary Troubadour on Monday at noon to secure a spot in the famous Monday night Troubadour “hoot”, which has been a training ground for many successful artists.
“It was an incredible time. Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Elton John were around the Troubadour at that time,” she recalls. There were other singer-songwriters who became friends with Karla, and eventually they decided to start a band. These were Kenny Edwards (who had started the Stone Ponys with Linda Ronstadt and Bobby Kimmel), Wendy Waldman and Andrew Gold. Something powerful about their combined sound brought them closer together. Thus, the Bryndle group was born. The band made an album for A&M, but it was never released. They were unfortunately a little ahead of their time. “We were these two girls and these two guys… the closest thing they could compare us to were moms and dads.” The group never achieved the success it should have had.
Bryndle broke up, but he launched four very illustrious careers. Kenny and Andrew joined Linda Ronstadt’s band, and through that connection Ronstadt heard a demo of Bonoff’s “Lose Again”. “Hey, you know, that’s really good,” Ronstadt recalls, saying, “What else do you have?” On Ronstadt’s 1976 album “Hasten Down the Wind” there were three Bonoff songs including “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me”.
Bonoff has won coveted seats on major tours, opening for James Taylor and Jackson Browne and earning critical acclaim in Time magazine. Two subsequent albums, “Restless Nights” in 1979 and “Wild Heart of the Young” in 1982, established Karla as one of LA’s premier artists and songwriters. Friends Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Peter Frampton, JD Souther and his partners at Bryndle, all helped make these albums.
In the early ’90s, Bonoff and his fellow Bryndle friends decided it was time to reform the band as each had enjoyed plenty of solo success.
“When we decided to get this band back together,” Bonoff explains, “we realized that one of the things that was wrong the first time around was that we all wrote separately. We thought it would be great to write together and it turned out to be really fun.
After four years of hard work, they released Bryndle’s debut album in 1995.
Throughout the 2000s, Bonoff remained active while claiming a certain level of “semi-retirement”. She has chosen to limit her tours and her compositions to what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, without the pressure of record company contracts. Her heritage as a writer and her perseverance as a performer are best expressed in a Billboard Magazine review of her recording “All My Life”. “Long before Alanis and Jewel, there was a race of songwriters whose earthly hymns of introspection, sorrow and joy touched souls in a way few can muster today.”
Today, Bonoff continues to tour very selectively. She will headline the Florence Winter Music Festival on Saturday January 29 at 8:30 p.m.
The event begins with a free-for-the-audience mini-concert by Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel as the True North Duo on Friday, January 28 at 4:30 p.m. at the Oregon Pacific Bank main branch, 1355 Highway 101 in Florence.
The Friday, Jan. 28 lineup includes Growling Old Men at 7 p.m. and the Appalachian Road Show at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 29, with Pretty Gritty at 1 p.m., Growling Old Men at 2:15 p.m. and Mary Flower at 3:30 p.m. Saturday night’s opening act is festival favorite Kristen Grainger and True North at 7:00 p.m., with Bonoff at 8:30 p.m.
On-site performances at the Florence Events Center cost $ 98 for the two-day pass, $ 42 for reserved seats for the Friday Bluegrass, $ 31 for the Saturday afternoon Folk / Americana general admission, and $ 49 for the Saturday night headlining show.
New this year is a live streaming option. Prizes are $ 20 each for Friday Night Bluegrass, Saturday Afternoon Folk / Americana, and Saturday Night Headliner Show. A two-day live streaming pass with unlimited access costs $ 55. Links will be sent to each buyer prior to each exhibition. The event will not be saved for later viewing.
“This year’s festival experience will include more workshops, a room for music-related exhibitors, more jam space, and food and drink options that are sure to please,” said Kirk Mlinek, president of the Florence Winter Music Festival.
The festival, presented by Sea Lion Caves, attracts participants from all western states each year, is in its 20th year except for the season interrupted by Covid last year, and is produced and directed by a dedicated team of volunteers from the non-profit Florence Arts, Culture & Entertainment (FACE).