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Deni Bonet -- Her Music's Got An Attitude!
By Cheryl Mullen - 10/23/2002 - 11:39 PM EDT

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a comedy show here in the Big Apple. One of the featured comics had a bit where he talked about musicians. One of his observations was that it was impossible to look cool while playing the violin. Apparently this guy had never heard of Deni Bonet.

Violin diva Deni, according to her website, “quit the classical world early in her career because she hated having to wear black and sit still!” And the contemporary music scene is a better place for it. In addition to her amazing violin ability, she is also an extremely talented singer/songwriter who has put her gifts to work as an original cast member of Mountain Stage (a live National Public Radio show), as well as a regular member of What I Like About Jew (a semi-regular live variety show featuring a hodgepodge of local NYC Jewsicians). She has also toured with Lilith Fair, receiving rave reviews.

The long line of performers with whom Deni has collaborated so far almost reads like a “Who’s Who” of the music industry. It makes you want to scratch your head and say, “Geez, who HASN’T she worked with?!” Here’s a partial list:

Sean Altman
Luka Bloom
Bruce Cockburn
Shawn Colvin
Robyn Hitchcock
Indigo Girls
Lisa Loeb
Sarah McLachlan
Midnight Oil
Richard Thompson
Warren Zevon

Strangely enough, she has never worked with Jian Ghomeshi—although she did once play on the same bill with Moxy Fruvous. So there’s the requisite Jian Ghomeshi connection for this month!

While Deni obviously plays very well with others, she is perfectly capable of playing on her own two feet. And she’s proven it on her debut album “Bigger Is Always Better”, released last year by MR2 Records and loaded with ironic commentary. From the title track to “I Scream Your Name” (about emotional unavailability) to “Phat, Stoopid, Totally Def” (a tongue-in-cheek commentary on current American slang) to “Sunshine All the Time " (about the things we all want in life), she shows us why she is more than ready to take on the music world by storm.

And I do mean “the world”. Her record company has not only released her CD in the US, but in Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East as well.

While “Bigger Is Always Better” is a wonderful album, nothing can quite compare to seeing Deni do her thing live. I’ve been fortunate enough to see her perform on many occasions, including her CD release party held at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC’s East Village. Apart from her actual performance, the most thrilling moment for me came just before she stepped onstage. She walked up to my table, spat out her gum, and stuck it in the ashtray sitting in front of me. I felt so honored!

But seriously, Deni’s live shows do not disappoint. She and her blistering violin practically blow the roof off of whatever venue happens to be graced with the honor of her presence. (Gee, maybe that’s why she does so many outdoor shows!) Who would have thought that a little piece of wood with a few strings attached could generate that much positive energy?

As if being the world’s greatest contemporary violin diva isn't enough to keep Deni busy (well, how many contemporary violin divas do YOU know??), she has recently added a new role to her repertoire—that of talk-show hostess. “Duets With Deni” premiered last month on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s cable access channel, and has gotten off to a smashing start.

Each half-hour show employs a simple, straightforward format. As Deni explains, the purpose of the show is “to give [musicians] who normally don’t get airplay a chance to be on television.” From Deni’s living room, she and a local NYC musicians talk and sing together. They jam on some of the local musician’s tunes, they jam on some of Deni’s tunes, and they end by jamming on someone else’s tune altogether. And even if they didn’t jam, it would still be a highly watchable program thanks to Deni’s irreverent wit and charm. I could easily picture her putting out an entertaining half-hour on talk alone—with or without a guest!

Upcoming guests on “Duets With Deni” are scheduled to include the following:

November 1 - Sean Altman
November 8 - Jenny Bruce
November 15 - Richard Barone
November 22 - Robyn Hitchcock
November 29 - Kimberley Rew
December 6 - Bari Koral
December 12 - Jon Spurney (Sorry, no link here. I did a Google search and apparently this person doesn't have a website. If Google and I are mistaken please feel free to email me with information.)

For those of you who live in Manhattan and have cable, the show can be seen every Friday night/Saturday morning at 12:30 AM on Channel 56. For those of you who don’t, the show is streamed at air time on MNN’s website ( Deni’s site also has a clip from her premiere episode.

And for those of you who don’t want to drag yourselves out of bed that late at night just to sit in front of your computer screen, there is a way that you (yes, YOU!) can get “Duets with Deni” to air on your local public access channel!

You can do this by becoming a sponsor of the show on your local public access channel. Here’s how it works (and don’t worry—according to Deni, this is completely LEGAL and FREE):

Step 1: Watch the show (or view the clip on her site) so that you know what a wonderful program you are about to promote. (DUH!)

Step 2: Make sure you have a Public Access station in your area. (To find out what your local Public Access station is and where its office is located, go to .)

Step 3: Send Deni an email and let her know that you’re interested in becoming a sponsor. I don’t want to provide a direct link to Deni’s email address here because I know from personal experience that email addresses posted on the web get spammed to high heaven (and I certainly don’t want to do that to Deni), but she can be reached at Also, if you go to the website above and the link to your station doesn’t work for some reason, contact Deni and she’ll take care of things for you.

Once you’ve contacted Deni, she’ll get back to you, take care of things on her end, and explain to you what you need to do on your end. Basically, it involves making a trip to your local Public Access TV office (or in the case of some stations, downloading a form online), filling out a form saying that you are the sponsor of “Duets With Deni” and requesting a time slot. You will also need to show proof that you are a local resident of that area.

That’s it! That’s all you’ve got to do to see “Duets With Deni” in your area. Is this a great country or what?

Bottom line: Deni is a kick-ass woman with kick-ass talent and a kick-ass show and is ready to do kick-ass things. Stand back, be impressed, and remain in awe—and that’s an order!

BREAKING NEWS: A cappella goofballs Da Vinci’s Notebook made their network television debut on “The Drew Carey Show” on October 28. Well, sort of. It’s not like they actually appeared on the show or anything. But their song “Gates” was prominently featured in the opening scene.

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