The Electric Bonsai Band is a one-man ensemble featuring guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and songwriter Andrew Ratshin. With the slogan "it's not electric...it's not a band," the Electric Bonsai Band continues to expand upon the psychosexual lyrical approach of Ratshin's 1980s trio, Uncle Bonsai.
The son of an opera singer, Ratshin, who was born in New York on May 17, 1958, studied classical music at the Mannes College of Music in New York from the age of four. A classically trained violinist, he also earned a degree in music composition from Bennington College in Vermont. Ratshin's classical studies were balanced by his love of folk music. Beginning the guitar at the age of seven, he wrote his first songs while in high school and was playing professionally in folk-music coffeehouses within a few years.
Upon his graduation from Bennington College in 1981, Ratshin moved to Seattle, where he hooked up with vocalists Arni Adler and Ashley O'Keefe to form Uncle Bonsai. During the eight and a half years that they performed together, the trio recorded four albums, including two studio (A Lonely Grain of Corn and Boys Want Sex in the Morning), the live The Inessential Uncle Bonsai, and a mail-order-only cassette, Myn Ynd Wymyn. The trio's repertoire included such Ratshin-composed tunes as "Cheerleaders on Drugs," "Penis Envy," "Lois Lane" and "Womb for Rent."
After the trio disbanded in 1989, Ratshin recorded the first Electric Bonsai Band album, 20 Seconds of Pleasure, a mail-order-only cassette featuring 20- and 40-second songs including "The Bluegrass Festival," "The Blues Song (Baby)" and "Doug's First Job." The album was reissued on CD in 1993.
Together with his wife Hilary Field, a classical guitarist, Ratshin formed his own label, Yellow Tail Records. In addition to albums by Uncle Bonsai and the Electric Bonsai Band, the label has released albums by Patrice O'Neill, Gesa Dutra and the Mel Cooleys, a band that Ratshin formed with Lisa Theo (formerly of Ranch Romance), Cathy Croce (formerly of Bad Bones and the Connections), and Robert Puff (formerly of Tour de Force and Pulse). ~ Craig Harris