When Los Angeles shut down, musician Bill Bonk immediately knew how to encourage his quarantined neighbors in Laurel Canyon.
"I thought, why not give a concert from my front porch – where all the neighbors could hear great vintage music with a social distance?" Says Bonk, 60, who has toured with artists around the world, including Grant Lee Buffalo, Aimee Mann, Susannah Hoffs, Lisa Loeb, Bonnie Raitt and his dear deceased friend, John Prine.
Laurel Canyon has a rich musical history, dating back to the 1960's when Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, David Crosby, The Byrds and The Mamas & the Papas first settled in this leafy Hollywood Hills enclave, just a few miles up the mountain from bustling Sunset Boulevard.
"Actually, it was my wife's idea to do these concerts ", he admits a few seconds later, referring to his wife Deborah Davis-Bonk, a former marketing manager from the music industry.
" And when all the neighbors suggested songs, it started there we are working on it, ”says Bonk. He started his weekly Saturday performances at 7pm on April 4, every week with five classic songs over 25 minutes.
After Bill Withers died, he played his legendary song Lean on Me and, after Prine's death, tribute with Angel From Montgomery a song he remembered after he accompanied Prine and Raitt on hundreds of live shows.
“I mainly cover songs that reflect the history of Laurel Canyon. It just makes sense, "he explains.
Although he was an accomplished singer and multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, guitar, bass, mandolin, accordion, cello, flute, and harmonica), he knew he couldn't do it alone. He enlisted his daughter Jas, 1
"I'm trying to make it an educational moment for the local kids so they understand what our neighborhood is about so I include songs by Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and other classic artists who helped create the artistic magic of Laurel Canyon.
"I have a large repertoire of my own music from my old band, The Brothers Figaro, but with the veranda concerts I find songs that the children play comfortably and also what the neighbors want to hear."  As the audience grows weekly through word of mouth and FaceBook, Bonk's Saturday night shows are a popular highlight among the community; a place to gather – remotely – and perhaps enjoy a martini in a to-go cup while dancing with the neighbors. who have been temporarily left on the sidelines, ”says Bonk, a music teacher at the Episcopal School of Los Angeles.
His ultimate quarantine playlist? The Byrd & # 39; s Mr. Tambourine Man Jackson Browne & # 39; s For Everyman Crosby, Stills & Nash & # 39; s Our House and Joni Mitchell & # 39; s A Case of You . He promises to continue his veranda concerts as long as he is needed. & # 39; I have such a longing for the people who gather here every Saturday night just looking for a connection. Everyone wants to be together, even at a distance. Music is so healing and we have started a great new tradition. & # 39;
Music has long been a canyon practice, he says, remembering the & # 39; needle drop & # 39; in the 60s & 70s when locals chose a new album, everyone opened their windows at 7pm on Saturday with the needle falling in sync so it could be heard through the streets. Apparently, the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon were big hits on the 'needle drop.'
Bonk's secret to aging with an attitude? "Improve every day, learn a new instrument and never grow up. "
One of his favorite performances with his daughter Jas is California Dreamin 'recorded in https://www.youtube.com/watch? v = kiMQcztbtNI  Follow Bill Bonk's weekly Saturday shows at 6:00 PM PST on livestream at https://www.facebook.com/laurelcanyonporchconcerts/"19659002cat"19459008 PIX CREDIT: Dave Rygalski