Bonsai Trees WON the 2019 New England Music Award for Best Band in Connecticut!


Learn To Grow was one of the Hartford Courant’s top 20 albums of 2019!

Read the article

Our picks for the top 20 albums in 2019 by Connecticut musicians
DEC 16, 2019 | 7:44 AM

The Connecticut music scene is robust enough that it would be easy to declare any given year the best in local music. But with such an abundance of new music in 2019, it was a truly daunting task to come up with our picks for the 20 best Connecticut albums of the year.
The number of quality albums that were pawed through for this list was immense. One thing that should be evident with these picks, including the 10 honorable mentions, is just how eclectic the statewide scene is.

Bonsai Trees: Learn To Grow
Bonsai Trees put out its debut album six years ago and that time has been spent honing its brand of poppy alt-rock through a handful of solid releases. The year saw them hand down their best record to date. Filled with a ton of radio-friendly hooks, indie vibes and pop-punk aesthetics, “Learn To Grow” is an album that could (and should) find a home in the record collections of a vast array of music fans.


James MacPherson WON the 2016 New England RADAR Music Award for best singer/songwriter under 21.  He performed “Sad” and “Marina” at the awards ceremony at Hard Rock Cafe in Boston.  James is pictured here with founder Laura Lamer accepting his award:


From the community 

South Windsor Teen Wins New England RADAR Music Award

Community Contributor Hilory Wagner

Local singer/songwriter James MacPherson was one of three talented young performers who won the 2016 New England RADAR (Rising Artist Detection and Recognition) Award on February 27, 2016, at a competition at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston.

The competition, sponsored by, attracted 2,000 young regional artists, but only nine finalists were chosen to perform in Boston for a panel of judges, as well as host Charlie Farren from FARRENHEIT and The Joe Perry Project. The top three — James MacPherson, Rodolfo Arteaga, and the band Playing With Fire — were chosen as the “RADAR Class of 2016.” As a RADAR award winner, James will be participating in a year-long honor including performances, coaching and marketing opportunities, and a chance to give back to his community.

Singer/songwriter judge Sarah Barrios, also a Connecticut musician and past RADAR award winner, said she was “looking for a songwriter that not only brings presence, rawness and soul to their music, but also has interesting lyrics and interesting chord progressions — that’s a really important package. I thought James did a fantastic job encompassing all of that.”, founded by writer Laura Lamere, is a non-profit organization that strives to identify and promote musicians under 21 who are making music of uncommon quality and promise. Their mission is to provide young musicians with accessible learning opportunities that drive artistic growth and empower self-expression.

James has been passionate about music since his childhood, writing soulful songs that belied his years and mastering an array of instruments. His parents, also musicians, encouraged his natural abilities: He was playing bass guitar by age 8, soon after began guitar lessons and as a preteen was already performing and recording his songs in his home recording studio.

At 13, James made his professional debut on ukulele, performing an original song for hundreds of people at a local benefit concert honoring his first musical mentor, Steve Shore. At 16, he was interviewed by Erika Ariasand Logan Byrnes and performed live on CT’s Fox News in advance of his Wapping Fair performance. James has now recorded more than 30 original songs and has an impressive list of past performances throughout New York and New England, at festivals, clubs, theme parks, and many live music venues.

He is also lead singer and guitarist for the Connecticut band Bonsai Trees, a high-energy rock trio currently performing around the Northeast to promote their latest EP, “Live Free and Die,” a follow-up to their critically-acclaimed debut CD “Minimalist.” James is the primary songwriter for the band, which also includes drummer and back-up singer Nick Sokol and bassist Sean Millane. Their music has a wide appeal and resembles bands such as The Black Keys, Green Day, Nirvana, and The Strokes. Bonsai Trees is currently recording their next CD.

James will be performing both as a soloist and with Bonsai Trees on the RADAR Awards tour.

For up to date information, follow James and Bonsai Trees:
James’ Website:
Instagram: @bonsaijames
Bonsai Trees Website:
Twitter and Instagram: @bonsaitreesband

This item was posted by a community contributor. To read more about community contributors, click here.

Copyright © 2017, Courant Community

or Click here for the electronic version of Hartford Courant article March 17, 2016

Another spot of James in the Hartford Courant 031716


CLICK HERE to listen to James in a live interview and performing new songs on iCRV Radio! (aired live on Nov 29, 2016 in Ivoryton, CT)

MARCH 2019

Bonsai Trees performed at the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 12, 2016
(here’s a screen shot of the photo published in the Hartford Courant)
Here’s the video of Bonsai Trees on Fox 61 News (St. Patty’s Day Parade) – “definitely NOT Irish Music”


JULY 2013

Studio 360 Battle of the High School Bands:
battle of the hs bands

“Who Knows, Who Knows” was featured on Studio 360 – Battle of the High School Bands


JAMES PERFORMED LIVE on FOX CT News, September 2012:




BONSAI TREES Selected by Rockstar Guitar Tuition as their very first Artist Of The Month:  Bonsai Trees – Artist Of The Month November 2013


Artist of the Month – November – The awesome `Bonsai Trees`

Artist of the Month – November – The awesome `Bonsai Trees`
Welcome to the first ever Rockstar Guitar Tuition `Artist of the Month. It`s November and our first band to win is the brilliant `Bonsai Trees` from Connecticut, USA. I`m actually pretty astounded that these guys are unsigned. Listen to their tunes, watch their videos. Everything about them just tells me it`s only a matter of time before a label picks them up.

The Band

Bonsai Trees are an alternative rock band from Connecticut that started in 2011 when James Macpherson (singer/guitarist) and Nick Sokol (drummer) met in Spanish class at their High School. The two began to build a friendship around their music, and quickly began writing songs for fun. As things got more serious, and the songs got a little more complex, the two set out on a search for a bass player to fill out the band’s sound. After auditioning a few people, Jimi Cryan joined the band as the bassist. First day of practicing with him on bass the song “Ronald Raygun” (brilliant name by the way) began its evolution into what became the second track on Bonsai Trees’s debut LP “Minimalist.
As the band kept practicing and writing new songs, they also began to land their first gigs. From charity events to raise money for music scholarships, to shows at locally renowned venue “The Space” in Hamden, CT. Averaging about 2-3 gigs a month over the last year Bonsai Trees has played in CT, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, various fairs and arts festivals, and even in a backyard. Bonsai Trees are currently writing new songs, practicing constantly, playing gigs, and working on new music videos and other media content to keep busy and to make a name for themselves.

With influences including the likes of Nirvana, The Strokes, Muse, Dismemberment Plan, Foo Fighters, there is a diverse range of songs on offer here.

Take a listen to the track `Hurricane Song` which was released as a split single with Mad Blackbirds (whose track Wax Wings is always a killer tune by the way) for a belting song. There`s multiple genres thrown into this piece of sublime beauty. All the way from 70`s infused melodic pop to 90`s pop punk and more in between. The way the song pulls you in and pushes you away whilst keeping you utterly entranced shows musical knowhow well beyond their years.

The guitarist

Guitarist and vocalist James MacPherson has pretty simple setup. He plays a red Fender Jaguar and a blue D’Armond, through a Fender Hot Rod, with the legendary Big Muff pedal and a Line 6 delay multi pedal as his core effects.

The guitar work is often simple, yet very melodic and angular at the same time. More often than not the guitar is understated yet the big fuzz tones are as unmistakable to the band`s sound as is the distinct vocals of singer James, who shockingly sounds much more of a complete singer than many twice his age.

Inspired by players such as Albert Hammond Jr, Kurt Cobain, and Ritzy Bryan (from The Joy Formidable), you can hear the understated yet powerful modern indie rock influence all over his playing. Especially from the aforementioned Albert Hammond Jr. One thing James looks for in player is “Never playing more than is necessary for the song.” which I fully agree with.

James No.1 tip for new guitarists: “You need rhythm AND THEN chops, not just chops. I can’t tell you how many guitarists I’ve seen just start shredding in what sounds like a time signature that doesn’t exist. “

Favourite song – `Whatever Happened` by The Strokes, “I find the lyrics fascinating.”
Favourite guitar song – `I got Mine` by The Black Keys, “because while being fairly simple it requires an amazing groove. “
Favourite Bonsai Trees song to play – `Who Knows Who Knows` “because if I had a bad week I can just scream it all out with that song. “
You can download their debut album, `Minimalist` from Bandcamp. Check it out. It`s stunning.

Standout tracks

Hurricane Song
Who Knows
Finally being Honest with myself


Bonsai Trees Interview – Great article about Bonsai Trees by Mara Dresner in Glastonbury Life, October 2013


James is featured in the Hartford Courant, August 2012,0,3719471.story

Accomplished Teen Singer/Songwriter at Wapping Fair
August 2, 2012

At 16, James MacPherson is already an accomplished and revered songwriter, a multitalented musician, and lead singer for several notable young bands. He plays acoustic, electric and bass guitar, ukulele, keyboards, and drums, and composes compelling original songs that belie his youth. About to begin his junior year at South Windsor High School, he has developed a loyal, awe- struck following in the four years he has been writing, recording and performing his original material throughout Connecticut – and it’s just the beginning.

James had just turned 13 when he performed an original song on ukulele at the highly publicized Steve Shore Recovery Trust Benefit Event in Bristol. More recently, James opened for the popular classic rock band Last Licks at Trinity on Main in New Britain, and co-wrote Last Licks’ original song “Phoenix Rising,” which they debuted at the show. James also opened for Freedom’s Reign at Loco Perro in East Hampton, and performed at the Zen Bar in Plainville as part of a homeless benefit show. Last Licks’ lead singer, Bill Wilson, introduced James as “one of his favorite people on the planet and the future of music.” James is scheduled to perform at the Berlin Fair this fall, as well.

James will be appearing as a solo artist as well as with two of his bands at the 2012 Wapping Fair in South Windsor. On Thursday, Sept. 6, he will perform solo from 7 to 8 p.m. His indie punk rock trio, Bonsai Trees, will perform their original songs from 8 to 9 p.m. Comprised of James, Nick Sokol of South Windsor, and James Cryan of Glastonbury, the band is currently working on a CD, and recently performed at the Ray Beller All-Star Scholarship Jam in Manchester and at The Space in Hamden. Check out their videos at

On Saturday, Sept. 8, James and his alternative rock band Iron-y will appear from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Comprised of South Windsor High School juniors Andrew Carey, Travis Gorman, Jack Tedone and James, Iron-y has appeared at many local events and venues, including Nomad’s in South Windsor, rocking crowds of all ages with original songs and fresh covers. Watch videos and read more at

The 2012 Wapping Fair will take place at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor, Sept. 6 to 9. For more information, visit For more details about James, including music and videos, visit


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