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Barrelhouse Bonni: Press

Spreading the blues!  A report on Barrelhouse Bonni's work on the movie, blues education, and bringing people together with the blues!

 

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British music fan Tony Moore interviews Bonni with Larry Taylor on the history and significance of the blues. And why it needs to keep going!  He follows up with a talk with us about educating youth and passing the music on.

Tony Moore - youtube (Jan 7, 2017)

Blues lyrics often invoke themes of pain, injustice, and violence. After all, it was the suffering and inhumanity of slavery and “Jim Crow” laws that helped create the blues as a form of creative expression. So it’s fitting the genre would be used to address the violence and anger currently affecting the Chicago area. Musician and blues crusader Bonni McKeown joined with community groups and the Larry Taylor Blues & Soul Band to hold events on the West and South Sides to showcase the music’s healing nature.

“The basic function of the blues is the healing of the community, its survival,” McKeown insists. “One person can’t solve these problems, but the music is uplifting, it builds morale.”

Over the last several months, McKeown, who also goes by her stage name Barrelhouse Bonni, delivered her punchy talents to community events that are working to strengthen neighborhoods and build support systems to highlight the cultural heritage and power of the music. “The whole idea is respect, honor, and reconnection,” she says. “We’re trying to reintroduce the music to generations that might not have connected with it before.” 

"Take a tasty menu of food and throw in two musicians who put on a foot-tapping performance of the blues, and suddenly Sundays in Chicago's Beverly community seem a lot more fun."

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Caroline Connors - Beverly Review (Apr 13, 2011)
Last week Rock for Kids hosted a two-hour workshop at Buddy Guy's Legends. The organization hooked up with Chicago HOPES, a branch of Chicago Public Schools that tutors children living in shelters. Chicago HOPES brought 115 children and mothers from Chicago shelters to Legends, which donated the space.

Barrelhouse singer-pianist Bonni McKeown tutored the children on blues lineage, playing with a band that included blues guitarist Ray Allison, bassist Carl Copeland, saxophonist Abb Locke and drummer Wes Sanders. The kids in the audience were ages 1 to 15.
Dave Hoekstra - Chicago Sun-Times (Aug 21, 2009)
Bonni has been an inspiration to me since she sent me my first Martin Luther King Day card, since she first emailed "pray for peace, work for justice, boogie for survival", since she left West Virginia to follow her muse and moved to Chicago. She lives honestly. And now, on "Barbershop Blues," she plays and sings her heart, her pure heart, honestly. Her songwriting here inspires another dimension and embodies her aforementioned creed. I thank Bonni for the inspiration that she has unknowingly given me. This woman has Big Ovaries!
Gaye Adegbalola - Saffire: Uppity Blueswomen
Barrelhouse Bonni was voted Best Solo Performer of 2006 by readers of Graffiti, West Virginia's statewide entertainment weekly.

Bonni walks the walk, talks the talk and makes the acoustic piano wail, in the gritty, gutsy Chicago style that resonates so well to her local fans.
JF Rote - Graffiti WV (Nov 1, 2006)
The original "Green Line Blues" is a gorgeous, late-1950s inspired I-IV vamp that finds Larry Taylor trading vocals with pianist and co-writer Bonni McKeown... "They Were in This House is Chicago's real House of Blues."
Tom Hyslop on Larry Taylor's album - Blues Revue magazine (Feb, 2005)
Pianist Barrelhouse Bonni was invited to sit in on a couple of Sam Lay's performances during a round Saturday evening (Aug. 10 2002 at the Mountain Stage NewSong Festival in Charles Town W.Va.). She brought the songs to life with her boogie-woogie playing, and demonstrated true professionalism with her sensitivity to the dynamics of Lay's performance. Unrehearsed no less."
Joe Pollock - Mind Candy, Shenandoah Valley (Sep, 2002)
...an amalgam of coffee house folk, burlesque & old tent shows...there is at times a female version of Tom Waits trying to get out of Bonni... "98th Floor", a 9/11 inspired song captures the attention and then widens into the plight of others around the globe; this is frontier modern folk music...the musicianship is quite high...particularly Jay Summerour's harp playing...(Mike Baytop) plays some tasty fills & Howlin 'Wolf growlin'...A bonus is the real deal singing & guitar of NJ Warren on his own composition "Dream On."... On "We'll Still Have Memphis," handsome sax breaks by Milika and low-key guitar from Rick Burnett punctuate Bonni's melodic keys.
Bily Hutchinson - BluesMatters, UK (2003)