Ben gets around, playing in lots of different formats from solo acoustic to a thumping ten piece band. He can do tasteful instrumental guitar as background music for cocktail parties or wedding ceremonies or put together a big infectious dance band. For everything from large corporate events to backyard barbecues, Ben can assemble the perfect band.
The Hapa Hillbillies
This is Ben's favorite band, The Hapa Hillbillies were formed to explore music in the tradition of "hapa haole" songs. "Hapa Haole" comes from Hawaiian slang for half ("hapa") and the slightly derogatory term "haole" describing people who were not from the islands and it refers to the musical stew cooked up when traditional Hawaiian bands touring the mainland around 1915 met American jazz musicians. The blend is a beguiling mix of English and Hawaiian words, traditional vocal harmonies, Hawaiian instruments but played with jazz stylings. Hot and Sweet! The Hapa Hillbillies take the sound farther by spicing it up with a little country and add a old time hillbilly flourish. The band features Ben Bonham, Dennis Williams, Rick Hulett, Ronnie Ontiveros, Kerry Williams & Larry Wyatt and if it looks like they are having fun, that's because they are. Their new CD of vintage Hawaiian swing, country and hot jazz, I've Never Been to Hawaii is now available.
The Bohemian Social Club
Bohemian: a socially unconventional person, esp. artist or writer, of free and easy habits, manners and sometimes morals.
Spawned from the fertile musical broth of the Columbia River Gorge, The Bohemian Social Club are set to become the Gorge's favorite good time swamp blues party band. This seven-plus piece aural and visual extravaganza features lads from local bands thrown together into an exciting, chaotic and highly danceable mix! With Ben on vocals and guitar, the club's unpredictable lineup may include Rick Hulett (Cascade Trio, Djangos Cadillac), Larry Wyatt (Westside Uke Orchestra), Jeff Minnick (Paul deLay Band), Tim Ortlieb (Djangos Cadillac) Kerry Williams (Cascade Trio, Djangos Cadillac), Dennis Williams (Djangos Cadillac), Alan Taylor and David Fretz.
Stillway & Bonham
“Stillway and Bonham cut through the clatter of pop music with a package that’s part Django Reinhardt and part Rev. Gary Davis, tied up with a ragtime bow.... Jamie Stillway not only comps big, fat, swinging and expensive jazz chords but picks with a ferocity that would make Django proud....... her technique is commanding and artful.....Ben Bonham devilishly evokes front-porch picking sessions and Hawaiian luaus with his liquid strokes but can cop a nasty swing on demand.....both guitarists are supremely accomplished” --Don Campbell, The Oregonian
"Certain set-ups are so simple, you know they were meant to be.......tasteful licks and solid compositions make Stillway and Bonham a guitar pickers' feast." - SING OUT MAGAZINE
"Literally having made their instruments out of trash can remnants, their unique jangle is one that stands out from its roots of dixieland, ragtime and early swing jazz. Let me tell you, as soon as these guys start thunking, picking and plucking on their modest instruments, everyone in the vicinity shuts up and dances along. Throw in some kazoo and vocals for the distinctive touch of humor and wit. There is an unmistakable genius in this catchy mix of 1920's style jazz, folk and blues that leaves all the others in the dust."--Kelly Clarke, Willamette Week
Joe Cap'n James Cook, inventor of the Trashcanjo (a four string banjo made out of a trashcan) needed an outlet for all the old-time jazz and folk songs he'd learned over the years. It didn't take much to rustle up some friends willing to take on this oddball assignment. Extraordinary trumpet stylist Jason Wells (March Fourth Marching Band) and slide guitar master Ben Bonham signed up to form the core group, Jason adding the flowing melodies with his vintage cornet and Ben painting the rich textures with his own home made "Trash Steel" slide guitar. Trashcan Bassist Arthur Parker completes the band with his dazzling one string technique. Sometimes joined by "Squish" the musical saw player, and Jazz Accordionist Mike Danner (Belmont Street Octet), Trashcan Joe has a well rounded and always exciting sound.
Ragged Blues Show
Duo Ben Bonham and Cap'n James Cook (Trashcan Joe, The Wags).Delta Blues and Ragtime on slide guitar and Trashcan Bass. A whole lotta noise for just two guys!
The Connolly Brothers Band
Now this is a much better outlet for Ben's western swing and classic country tendancies. Ben gets to play electric steel with Bob and Barney Connolly - veterans of the Northwest scene and fine vocalists - and to top it all they have Northwest Legend Buck Smith - a sprightly octogenarian who has been playing this music his whole life - including years as Merle Travis's back up guitar player. Buck is a delight -- and fitter and more able than most people half his age!!! The perfect swinging country dance band.