Daniel Bonte broke onto Orange County’s dormant country music scene in 2014 and started kicking up dust with a weekly country night at Big’s Bar & Grill in Fullerton. More than two years later he’s keeping his momentum alive with bigger shows, a new backing band, and the release of his sophomore EP, Easy Kind Of Livin. Bonte and his band, The Bona Fide, will play the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa on Saturday, November 19 in celebration of the new release, which was recorded in Tommy Lee’s Atrium Studios in Calabasas.
The group landed in Atrium Studios after Lee’s sound engineer, Smiley Sean, caught Bonte at a live show. The engineer ultimately served as a producer for the country band’s new EP, helping the group to build a stronger and more full-bodied sound. Sean had primarily worked with rock musicians in a private studio, and Easy Kind Of Livin was a change of pace and his first endeavor with a country band.
“One of my buddies had recommended us to Smiley, and after he saw us play live he approached me and said he felt like we had our own thing going on, like we weren’t trying to copycat anybody,” Bonte says. “He wanted to work with us and of course we were excited. After we wrapped he even played our tracks for Tommy Lee, it was rad.”
In between EP’s, Bonte assembled an entirely new backing band that includes guitarist/songwriter Jeff Carbone. With the newfound Bona Fide by his side, the singer found his way to the main stage of multiple country music festivals over the last year, including Shipkicker in Long Beach and Coastal Country Jam in Huntington Beach. The group has shared bills with big name country artists Easton Corbin and Chase Rice, and the group continues to organize and headline local benefit shows.
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Bonte created The BBQ Bash for The Brave last June, which attracted hundreds of country music fans to Circle S Ranch in Silverado and benefitted the Save the Brave foundation that helps veterans struggling with PTSD. Bonte is also coming up on the third annual California Country Christmas on December 15, which doubles as a toy drive for local families in need and will tap acts from across Southern California to perform.
Easy Kind Of Livin is a departure from Bonte’s first EP, straying away from party-anthems and focusing more on introspective life experiences. The singer penned a track dedicated to his parents called, “Don’t You Worry” and laid down a track called “God, Flag and Country” that he says isn’t what people may assume.
“God, Flag and Country isn’t coming from a conservative place at all. My brother is a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force and I have friends that are Marines. It’s ironic, you know? You have people serving who are sent away and come home to what’s going on now, and no matter what side you’re on it’s crazy. The song is meant to be a message of unity, it’s not tied to any party, it’s a message of hope. Let’s stand together,” Bonte said.
Bonte is looking forward to the upcoming EP release party for Easy Kind of Livin, but he’s also looking forward to putting a together a nationwide tour in support of a full length follow up album that’s set for release this summer. “2016 has been really good to us," Bonte said. "We’ve played the main stage at festivals and built up our fan base, and we’ve put together some really great songs. If we keep enjoying the ride and don’t forget to have a good time, we’ve got a great shot at keeping the streak alive."
Daniel Bonte and The Bona Fide perform with Dani Rose and Goldenwest at the Tiki Bar, 1700 Placentia Ave, Costa Mesa, Sat. November 19. Doors 7:30, tickets $10. For more information visit www.tikibaroc.com.