Jeff Bonner and Taysey Taylor of the band Tamihi. The two will be performing along with various guests during Tractorgrease’s Virtual Friday Open Mic on April 24. (Submitted)

Chilliwack musician releases album at virtual open mic night in memory of former bandmate

Jeff Bonner of Tractorgrease will be releasing The White Owl Bum as a tribute to late Jeff Bennett

It’s an album Jeff Bonner has been wanting to put together for months, and it took a pandemic-related closure for him to have the time to complete it.

The owner of Tractorgrease – a studio, café and multimedia company – has recorded an album in memory of his friend and fellow musician, Jeff Bennett, and it will be released via livestream video on Friday.

“He was a really gifted musician, had a great ear for harmony and could instantly play tunes,” Bonner said of his late pal Bennett.

He’s named the CD The White Owl Bum – a play on words for The Beatles’ White Album – which came when the two then-bandmates were travelling together.

On two separate occasions, a white owl flew past their vehicle.

“We’d always talk about ‘white owl bum’ and he’d snicker and said ‘we should put out a record called The White Owl Bum,’” Bonner recalled. “That was a joke we always had and it never happened.”

But now the album has come to fruition.

It contains music from as far back as about 2003. Bonner searched through several different hard drives and dug up songs that he either recorded with Bennett, or songs that were from bands the two played in together.

It will be released this Friday during Tractorgrease’s new Virtual Friday Open Mic livestream shows which replaced his in-person Friday Open Mic night last month.

This is the second time in the past year and a half that Bonner has been working on rebranding his open mic night and his company. In 2018, he had to temporarily stop the Friday Open Mic nights and Sunday jam sessions due to licensing errors.

READ MORE: Tractorgrease in Chilliwack looking for support after Open Mic shut down

He had just gotten his open mic nights back to where it was “normal” again when COVID-19 hit.

“Now we’re shut down again. I’m trying to make sure I’m constantly connecting [with clientele and musicians] so we’re doing this virtual show and it’s actually doing really well,” Bonner said.

They mostly feature Bonner’s two-person band, Tamihi, which include him and his partner Taysey Taylor, but other regular open mic musicians have also been taking part via pre-recorded videos which Bonner plays during the livestreaming.

It’s like a “little variety show” of different people playing, he said.

Not only have the shows been a hit with their regular fans and musicians, but those watching have been sharing the videos via social media and Bonner has since been getting messages and feedback from all over.

The next virtual show, on April 24, will be Tractogrease’s sixth and will feature Tamihi, various guests, and of course the release of The White Owl Bum.

They go live at 7:05 p.m. Why? Bonner wants to give people five minutes to make noise and appreciate our healthcare workers.

On Friday, Bonner will tell the story of Bennett and how they came up with the idea of the album.

Bennett died in August 2019. There was a celebration of life for him the following month at Tractorgrease. At the event, Bonner took the pre-recorded bass sound from a number of songs Bennett had played which allowed his band, Relic’s Jetboat, to perform “with” Bennett.

That’s how the production of The White Owl Bum began.

“Had this wit about him. He liked to speak in cartoon voices and always had something witty to retort back – sometimes you might not like it, but it was witty,” Bonner laughed.

It’s a 12-song album and the cost is $12. Signed copies of the CD are available. Contact tractorgrease@gmail.com or 604-858-3814 for a copy. Keep an eye out for the digital album soon.

For more, tune in to the livestream show at facebook.com/tractorgreasecafe48710 on Friday, April 24 at 7:05 p.m.

The artwork for The White Owl Bum was created by Chilliwack tattoo artist Dave Hornberg.


 

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Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
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The White Owl Bum by Tractorgrease is being released on April 24, 2020. (Dave Hornberg)

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