Jeff Bonner.

Jeff Bonner.

Jeff Bonner: Tractorgrease Studio a vital hub

Chilliwack's Jeff Bonner, 39, as featured in The Chilliwack Progress Forty Under 40.

He’s created a recording space for artists in Chilliwack, and worked with some of the hottest musicians around.

Jeff Bonner, 39, took over Tractorgrease Studios on Alexander Avenue four years ago with a bold, entrepreneurial vision.

He’d finance his hobby of filming and recording music by continuing to install multimedia audio/video and lighting systems around town, which he’d done for years.

The word is out. Instead of heading west into Vancouver to lay down tracks, some artists are heading east to Tractorgrease in Chilliwack.

“I got tired of doing live sound recording at other venues,” he says. So he went ahead and built an outstanding live venue, complete with a performance stage inside a studio, and the latest in lighting and sound innovation.

His client list is impressive: 54-40, Mother Mother, Barney Bentall, Steve Dawson, Jim Byrnes, Ridley Bent, The Deep Dark Woods, John Bottomley, The Sojourners, and Tom Wilson of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.

“These are some of the artists I grew up listening to,” says Bonner. “And they chose my studio.”

Mother Mother is one of his favourite bands, and he was thrilled when they sought out his services.

Country star Ridley Bent was Bonner’s old roommate on Menzies Street, where they lived, jammed and recorded.

Quite a solid local music scene has been developing, with bands starting to make a name for themselves from Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

“I’d like to think I’ve been a part of bringing that together.”

Local artists in studio range from Rags to Radio, Chad Blackey, The Stirs, and Jason Guill, to Fanaticus, Harma White, Calico Thief, and Quinn Patterson.

Bonner was stoked to record music for theatrical productions like Misty Hill Automaton, Drowsy Chaperone, and Paper Wheat.

He was nominated three times for his work last year. He was up for best 2011 Blues DVD for The Misssissippi Sheiks Tribute, Best DVD at the WCMAs for The Mississippi Sheiks Tribute and Best Video Director at the BCMAs for work with Ridley Bent.

“I’m very happy with what I’m able to do for a living. It sure can be a lot of work. But it’s my vision of what I want to be doing.

“When you love what you do it goes a long way.”