Once upon a time, alternative country singer-songwriter Haley Bonar left her home state for a new adventure and landed in the north woods of Duluth, MN. At an open stage called “Experimental Thursdays,” she brought her guitar and Farfisa organ and played a few originals and a cover of “California Dreamin’.” Alan Sparhawk of Low, was in the small audience. When she finished, he promptly approached her and asked if she would open for Low on their upcoming tour. He eventually released her album on his Chairkicker’s Union label the following spring.
Before she knew it, she had quit school, crammed her Honda Civic full of gear, and was opening for Low across the country. She was twenty years old.Since then, she has released three full length albums, several EPs, started a punk/new-wave side project (Gramma’s Boyfriend), had songs tapped for major motion pictures and has played for, and with, the most talented artists in the world.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Bonar to discuss her current stomping grounds of St. Paul, Minnesota, while she prepares for the release of her next full length record, which is expected this spring.
What’s your town’s nickname?
What’s your nickname for your town?
Saint Paul is hard to nickname
Why do you live there?
Because it’s beautiful and quiet, and the perfect size for a city!
Did you grow up there? If not, what brought you there?
No, I grew up in the Black Hills, but I moved to Minnesota when I was 18 to go to school and have pretty much been here ever since.
What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?
Working in coffee shops over the years when money’s been tight, on more than one occasion someone has ordered a drink from me and said “You know, you really look like Haley Bonar.”
What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
What is your favorite local event or festival?
Music and Movies in Loring Park on Mondays in the summertime.
What is the best time of year to be there?
Who is your favorite local celebrity?
I don’t know…
Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?
The Clown Lounge in the basement of the Turf Club on a winter’s night. Get a Maker’s Mark and a Summit Winter Ale and you’re set.
Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
Again, the Clown Lounge has a juke box and it’s pretty great. Lots of Motown and old country.
Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?
I do play music here. I like to play the Cedar Cultural Center and also the 7th Street Entry.
Does where you live influence your music?
In some ways, I’m sure it does, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how.
What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
I like seeing shows at the 7th Street Entry. Alpha Consumer has rocked that joint pretty hard in the past.
What is your favorite local band?
That’s tough. Since I just saw them this week, I’ll go with Alpha Consumer.
What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
The Blue Door in St. Paul has the best burger and tater tots ever.
What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
The Electric Fetus hands down. Not sure about best find though.
What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
I don’t read those too much.
What is your favorite local shop?
I Like You in Northeast Minneapolis.
If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
Switzerland maybe. I’ve never been there, but that’s where Heidi is from and my Grandmother swears it’s heaven on earth. Seems pretty great.