A Bonner-fide good time

Up-and-coming musician draws in small crowd this weekend at The Cabin

Photo by Katy Macek

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Between a mix of original songs and some older covers, audience members at The Cabin were able to sing along and listen to the talent of a musician new to the Eau Claire area.

UW-Stevens Point senior Joey Bonner took the stage Saturday night, telling jokes and personal stories to a small crowd. Though he broke just about every pick he brought with him, he only stopped the performance one time to take a break.

At the end of the evening, Bonner made sure to thank each person in attendance, including those sitting on the second floor.

In Stevens Point, Bonner said it’s rare for students to come to a performance unless they know the singer or band playing.

Because of this, a lot of students miss out on music they might otherwise enjoy, he said, and he was humbled by the around 30 people who gave his music a chance.

“It was really intimate,” Bonner said. “I liked being able to see everybody and get reactions from certain things that I did.”

While Bonner joined a band with a few of his friends at the end of their junior year of high school, he said he didn’t learn how to play guitar until after college, when the band needed another rhythm guitar player.

Shortly after learning guitar, he started to write his own music, sometimes for the band, but sometimes for himself. In 2012, when many of the songs were for him, Bonner said that’s when he started to take himself seriously as a musician.

“I like to get things out,” he said. “A lot of times songs will do things that I can’t, like I don’t feel comfortable saying to people.”

Because he graduates in December, Bonner said he’s starting to take his music more seriously and beginning to branch out across the region. He currently has two upcoming shows in Oshkosh and Minneapolis.

While he knows pursuing music as a career might not be realistic, he said he’s determined to give it a try because he’s young enough where he can move on to something else if it fails.

“I figure why not give it a shot now, especially because this is where all my passion and energy comes from,” he said. “I don’t take things as seriously as I take this music.”

Taylor Saunders, freshman, said she had been to several other performances at The Cabin this semester and decided to come Saturday after listening to some of Bonner’s music online.

Saunders came with her friend, Michael Revenig, a freshman from Southwest Minnesota State University (Minn.), and both agreed he was a talented musician.

Jackie Freeberg, a junior, said she met Bonner through mutual friends around a year ago when she transferred to Stevens Point. Saturday evening, she could be found selling his CDs at the performance and handing out free download cards for his music.

Freeberg said she enjoys watching Bonner perform because she gets to see another side of him.

“When he’s on stage, we’re all dorks, but I feel like on stage there’s this other part of him that comes out,” she said. “It’s just great to see him get out of his shell.”

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