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The Wright stuff

For 20 years, Bonnie Wright's Fresh Sound music series has brought the cutting edge to town

This year, music maven Bonnie Wright celebrates 20 years of her Fresh Sound series.
This year, music maven Bonnie Wright celebrates 20 years of her Fresh Sound series.

“I wanted to have musicians who’ve played here before,” says music promoter Bonnie Wright. She’s on the verge of celebrating 20 years of her Fresh Sound music series. “And our very first concert featured Steve Schick and Vanessa Tomlinson back in February of 1997. Steve is very busy now and Vanessa lives in Australia, so I’m grateful they can reprise that event.”

Video:

Bonnie Wright receives proclamation for Fresh Sound Music Series

...from then-mayor Bob Filner in May, 2013

...from then-mayor Bob Filner in May, 2013

What wisdom has Wright gleaned over two decades in the concert business? “I’ve learned to listen better. I’ve learned to trust my own judgment more when I hear someone in New York that I might want to bring to San Diego, and I’ve learned to organize things in a way that seems to work.

“Altogether there will be seven concerts, but I’m only announcing the first four right now. I tried to keep a mix between musical diversity and practicality, because a lot of the people who have played here in the past have become more famous and I can’t afford them anymore!”

I asked Wright if she ever took time to reflect on the 200 or so shows she’s produced. “Every once in a while I do. Especially when I’m updating the website and see some of the history. I’ve had some big names, like Steve Lacy and Terry Riley. On the other hand, [trombonist] Michael Dessen was still a student when he first played Fresh Sound. He’s coming back in the fall.”

To keep costs down, Wright has often invited the musicians to stay in her Mission Hills home. “I love that part. Luckily I have the extra rooms, and we become friends that way. We get to hang out and talk, and I usually take them sightseeing. Getting to know the musicians is one of my favorite parts of doing this.”

Even still, the last-minute preparations on concert day can take their toll on her nerves. “It’s very stressful, but part of that is just me, because I’m very detail-oriented. I do have help setting up the chairs and taking in the tickets, though. I guess the most stressful part is hoping there will be enough of an audience to make it worthwhile to the musicians.”

In response to the ever-rising cost of doing business, Wright has decided some things needed to change. “After 20 years, I am finally raising the ticket prices to $20, although I’m keeping the student price at $10.”

Might there be a 30-year Fresh Sound celebration? “I have a motto,” Wright explains. “It’s to kick ass until I can’t.”

Place

Bread & Salt

1955 Julian Avenue, San Diego

The Fresh Sound series begins February 24 with Steve Schick and Vanessa Tomlinson; continuing March 15 with the Chris Speed Trio; April 13 with Kjell Nordeson and Oyvind Brandstegg; and May 18 with Lukas Ligeti’s Notebook. All concerts are held at Bread & Salt (1955 Julian Avenue) at 7:30 p.m.

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This year, music maven Bonnie Wright celebrates 20 years of her Fresh Sound series.
This year, music maven Bonnie Wright celebrates 20 years of her Fresh Sound series.

“I wanted to have musicians who’ve played here before,” says music promoter Bonnie Wright. She’s on the verge of celebrating 20 years of her Fresh Sound music series. “And our very first concert featured Steve Schick and Vanessa Tomlinson back in February of 1997. Steve is very busy now and Vanessa lives in Australia, so I’m grateful they can reprise that event.”

Video:

Bonnie Wright receives proclamation for Fresh Sound Music Series

...from then-mayor Bob Filner in May, 2013

...from then-mayor Bob Filner in May, 2013

What wisdom has Wright gleaned over two decades in the concert business? “I’ve learned to listen better. I’ve learned to trust my own judgment more when I hear someone in New York that I might want to bring to San Diego, and I’ve learned to organize things in a way that seems to work.

“Altogether there will be seven concerts, but I’m only announcing the first four right now. I tried to keep a mix between musical diversity and practicality, because a lot of the people who have played here in the past have become more famous and I can’t afford them anymore!”

I asked Wright if she ever took time to reflect on the 200 or so shows she’s produced. “Every once in a while I do. Especially when I’m updating the website and see some of the history. I’ve had some big names, like Steve Lacy and Terry Riley. On the other hand, [trombonist] Michael Dessen was still a student when he first played Fresh Sound. He’s coming back in the fall.”

To keep costs down, Wright has often invited the musicians to stay in her Mission Hills home. “I love that part. Luckily I have the extra rooms, and we become friends that way. We get to hang out and talk, and I usually take them sightseeing. Getting to know the musicians is one of my favorite parts of doing this.”

Even still, the last-minute preparations on concert day can take their toll on her nerves. “It’s very stressful, but part of that is just me, because I’m very detail-oriented. I do have help setting up the chairs and taking in the tickets, though. I guess the most stressful part is hoping there will be enough of an audience to make it worthwhile to the musicians.”

In response to the ever-rising cost of doing business, Wright has decided some things needed to change. “After 20 years, I am finally raising the ticket prices to $20, although I’m keeping the student price at $10.”

Might there be a 30-year Fresh Sound celebration? “I have a motto,” Wright explains. “It’s to kick ass until I can’t.”

Place

Bread & Salt

1955 Julian Avenue, San Diego

The Fresh Sound series begins February 24 with Steve Schick and Vanessa Tomlinson; continuing March 15 with the Chris Speed Trio; April 13 with Kjell Nordeson and Oyvind Brandstegg; and May 18 with Lukas Ligeti’s Notebook. All concerts are held at Bread & Salt (1955 Julian Avenue) at 7:30 p.m.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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