“I bolted, man.”
Daniel Bonte and I hadn’t talked since 2002, when we graduated from Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana. He was calling from Orange County, California, wanting to reconnect before embarking on a tour that includes a date at The Rathskeller in Indianapolis, his first performance in his hometown.
I’d heard he was headed back to our old stomping grounds, but I wouldn’t be there to catch him. I left, as well, moving to Montana 10 years ago. My friend and fellow 2002 HSE grad Mark Munz told me his new group, AM Radio, would be opening for Bonte.
“This is just our third gig, and it’s a real showcase,” he said.
Munz’s bandmate Adam Zoibi, who also graduated with us, couldn’t believe it.
“We put a gig together for St. Paddy’s Day to help my friend out at his new bar and now we’re getting legit,” he said.
Bonte’s been legit for some time now. Five years ago I was at Disneyland with my wife-to-be and her stepchildren. As we walked past the House of Blues on Disney Way, I saw a flyer for Daniel Bonte and The Bona Fide.
“What?” I thought. I didn’t know Bonte had that kind of ambition. I didn’t know he was a performer or even into country music.
What did I know about Daniel Bonte? Nothing, really. What do we really know about each other at that time in life? We would say “hi” here and there, but that was about it. When we talked on the phone the other day, however, he filled me in on what life was like for him back then.
“While you were all listening to ‘Dookie,’ I was listening to Clint Black, Garth and a lot of other country,” he said.
But, after high school, we evolve. We spread our wings. We find our niche.
And that’s exactly what Bonte’s done. Along with his band, the Bona Fide, Bonte continues to make his way. During his young music career, he’s opened for Billy Currington, Easton Corbin, A Thousand Horses and others, bringing a sound reminiscent of Garth, Travis Tritt, John Mellencamp and Keith Urban.
His sound is ever-evolving, as his “Making My Way Back Home” tour has more of a Texas outlaw country vibe. Recently inspired by upcoming artists such as Cody Jinks, Bonte is adding more depth to each song, telling a story while filling up the dance floor.
Bonte may have bolted, but he’s excited to come home and see family and friends. It will be a happy homecoming for him, and he’d be delighted to see you.
I encourage those of you still in the Indy area to go see him Thursday night. Munz and Zoibi will kick things off with some memorable 90s alternative tunes and some catchy originals. Then Bonte and The Bona Fide will play their hard-drivin’, good-timin’ country.
And, for those of you who remember Bonte’s C + C Music Factory tribute in the seventh grade talent show, you’ll be pleased to see he doesn’t just sing. He’ll be bustin’ some moves.
The free show begins at 7 p.m.