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Bonney stirred by new music project

LO guitarist is collaborator on exciting album 'Long Gone'

STAFF PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Mark Bonney looks like the master of the musical universe in the studio at his Lake Oswego home.

In a lifetime full of music, guitarist extraordinaire Mark Bonney has come up with one of the most exciting projects of his life.

Certainly the country music album he teamed up on with singer-songwriter Glenn Jeffrey was a long time coming, but the Lake Oswego musician believes the newly released CD “Long Gone” is well worth the wait. The early reviews assure Bonney of that.

“One of the nicest compliments we got was, ‘It sounds like the early Mavericks,’” he said. “‘It’s unique. But in a good way.’”

This is just what Bonney and Jeffrey were shooting for. They wanted to break free from the homogenized sound that characterizes so much of today’s music, stripping down the sound as much as possible, and emphasizing the power and romanticism of Jeffrey’s songs.

“The point is it’s not overpowering,” Bonney said. “We’ve mixed a lot of different sounds. Glenn sent me his songs and l layered the music like a cake. I’ve had such a wide base of music in my life. This CD has influences from the Beatles, the Bakersfield sound (Buck Owens, Merle Haggard), later country rock bands. It’s a melding of rock and more contemporary country bands.”

STAFF  PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Mark Bonney had to learn how to play the steel guitar to provide that country sound for his new album, Long Gone.

If that sounds complicated, the results are not. The music on “Long Gone” is clear, clean and new. The method used by the duo started with Jeffrey sending Bonney a recording of himself singing his songs and playing his guitar, then Bonney adding the music from his studio full of guitars and other instruments.

Sometimes Jeffrey would say, “That is just great” after Bonney finished with a song. Other times Jeffrey would say, “I think it would sound better if you added this.” Bonney would add it and keep on working until Jeffrey was completely satisfied. In the end, Bonney said, “The spontaneity and passion come through.”

STAFF  PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - For many years, Mark Bonney was a guitarist who played on the road. Today, he is a family man in Lake Oswego, but he still produces plenty of music.

To prepare for this rather herculean task, Bonney went all out. First, he learned how to play the electric steel guitar. That wasn’t too bad. But then he arrived in his Lake Oswego home one day to find that Jeffrey had purchased the technological equipment for Bonney to make the CD. This was a total stretch for him, since he had never done anything like it before. But he buckled down and did it.

Bonney was left shaking his head about the changes in music technology.

“It’s become so easy that any 15-year-old kid from here to the Eastern Seaboard could make a CD,” Bonney said.

It certainly was not that easy to make a record when Bonney started out as a musician in the 1960s. He began as a drummer, but he felt compelled to give it up due to complaints by the neighbors in his apartment building. He switched to the guitar and found a career. He started out playing in high school bands, then college bands, and hooked up with an outstanding musician named Jeff Foskett in Santa Barbara. Then their paths parted. Foskett joined the Beach Boys. Bonney joined a touring band and became “Have Guitar, Will Travel.”

“We played some real hell holes in the desert,” Bonney recalled.

But he was content with life on the road until he met a young woman named Chrissy. Suddenly, settling down, getting married and raising a family seemed like just what Bonney wanted to do. But he was worried.

“I was terrified,” Bonney said. “I thought my agency wanted to keep me on the road for the rest of my life.”

Fortunately, Bonney and his new wife settled down in San Diego, where he found a spot in the music scene. He and Chrissy raised three smart, talented children. There was no more dragging home at 2 a.m. after a road gig. Twelve years ago, the Bonney family became truly happy when they moved to Lake Oswego.

Next to Chrissy, perhaps the most fortunate thing in Bonney’s life was meeting Jeffrey in the 1990s, when he was an artist with Atlantic Records. The two men hit it off so well that it planted the seeds for a musical collaboration that didn’t reach fruition for a couple decades.

Finally, just when they were ready to go ahead do it, Bonney was stricken by throat cancer. But he overcame that ordeal, and today, he looks extremely fit. Not only has Bonney beaten cancer he is now busy promoting “Long Gone.” They signed up with an independent Portland music company with a funny name — CDBaby — that gets great results. Bonney is very excited about the future.

“We went very old school with it,” Bonney said. “It has a raw sound.”

As that one listener said, “It’s unique. But in a good way.”

For more about Mark Bonney and “Long Gone,” go to cdbaby.com/cd/glennjeffrey.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

STAFF  PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The website for the new CD Long Gone is displayed by Mark Bonney. He collaborated with singer/songwriter Glenn Jeffrey to achieve a fresh sound.