Bonnie Wright’s Microtonal Adventure
Fresh Sounds concert series producer Bonnie Wright is back from hiatus in New York. She plans to resume her soirees, as she refers to them, in February. She’s hosted eight or ten of them since 2009 in her Mission Hills home. “It’s an intellectual pursuit,” she says, “which I love.”
Wright’s soirees are in essence themed musical show-and-tell discussion groups for UCSD grad students and people who have attended her concert series. Meaning, an audience that favors electronica, noise, modern classical, and the avant garde in general.
The soirees were the result of Wright having heard a collection titled the Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music. “I bought it, listened, and was fascinated.” She bought more CDs and she read whatever books she could find on the art of noise, electronic music, or technology. “I read Crystal Fire. It’s about the history of the transistor, which changed everything.”
In September 2009 she invited known fans of such expression to her home to listen to her play samples and give a talk. “There were three or four more soirees on the history of electronic music that followed.” The next series, says Wright, was about the history of noise. “The people who came to the first series wanted to present this time. I said, 'Great!'”
Sam Lopez, for example, hosted a program on the History of Doom, while Esteban Flores gave the group a taste of amplified Sludge with his down-tuned hock-shop guitar. If any of the neighbors in normally-sedate Mission Hills minded the caterwauling, no one came knocking on the door.
“I love to delve into topics that are related but that are unknown to me. The music doesn’t have to be a genre but it has to be new, in good taste in my opinion, and it has to be full of surprises.”
Bonnie Wright bleaches her hair, wears hipster glasses, and will not discuss her age. But her attachment to music goes back to high school. “You know what the title of my term paper was? 'The Development of Negro Jazz in America.'” Later, at the age of 50 and with grown children, she quit her job and went back to school, UCSD this time.
“I got student loans and did T/A work. All the things kids do.”
UCSD was a fortuitous choice; Wright would meet avant-trombone man George Lewis and later would become his tour manager. After, she returned to San Diego and founded the Spruce Street Forum in Bankers Hill. It ran for a decade and served as a sort-of clubhouse where she could stage the blend of avant sounds she favored. The fire marshal shut her down.
Wright came back for round two at the Sushi downtown, where her Fresh Sounds series launched in 2009. On the side, she co-founded the New Music Society, owns a record label, and sings in a gospel choir for fun.
The third season of soirees will commence at the end of February, date and subject to be announced. “This time, I’m gonna ask people to pick a topic they’d like to present moving forward,” she says. “Prog rock, Chinese experimental music, whatever.”
The Fresh Sounds concerts will also resume this spring. Wright has moved the series to the Space for Art in the East Village; her first concert is scheduled for March 6. She says she’s still working out the details for the first bill, but says she plans to put the focus on artists from New York.
More like this:
- My absolute favorite place to hang out — March 15, 2017
- Bread & Salt & Bonnie — Aug. 28, 2013
- Bonnie has the Wright stuff — Oct. 12, 2012
- Fresh Sound: 4 sets of multi-generational electronic music, Sept. 5 — Sept. 3, 2012
- Define Music — May 6, 2009