In the invisible republic built on the soul of the blues, the riot of punk, the playfulness of burlesque, and the sophistication of the orchestra pit, Bonfire Madigan Shive plies her trade. She and her cello are fashioning a new and desperately necessary approach to the hoary contours of the singer-songwriter and the composer. Her songs are ballads of resistance, hymns to liberation, string suites for the ramblers, rebels, and raconteurs of a new splintered century. Raucous and delicate, aggressively progressive, she moves subtly, seamlessly across the music you think you know and the music you never dreamed of. —Nathan Salsburg, Alan Lomax Collection
Bonfire Madigan is an avant-pop, chamber-punk trailblazer. Also a configuration of combustible collaborators orbiting the songs and spit of Madigan Shive. Using her dynamic vocals and innovative, self-styled cello virtuosity Madigan ignites the Bonfire with a shebeen of soul-art-string-sounds making theBMad live show an event people travel hundreds of miles to attend. Since her performing songwriting appeared with Seattle's first generation Riot Grrrl band, the seminal acoustic duo, Tattle Tale, to her art, advocacy and activism of today -- Madigan doesn't play for safety. As her first live album's title declares she Plays for Change. Bonfire Madigan is a new-music composer pulling from all that inspires her to create something often called ineffable. She repaints the sonic landscape with visceral interpretations of love, life, loss, interdependence and liberation. Madigan is one of the antipoverty- procreativity, globalization generations most potent cultural figures. SF Chronicle says "... Shive certainly sets the underground ablaze."
Bonfire Madigan Shive - words, voice, cello, occasional guitar, up front baring all
Bonfire collaborators have included: Jonathan Egg Hughes, Shawn Biggs, Aurisha Smolarski, Eliana Fiore, Joan Jeanrenaud, Jolie Holland, Matt Lucich, Ashley Adams, David Coulter, Tara Barnes, Ralph Carney, Elliott Sharp, Zef Noise, Sheri Ozeki, Christine Lehmann, Shelley Doty, Tomas Palermo, Carla Kihlstedt, Cat Power, Spazecrafte1, Jane LeCroy, Elliott Smith, Laura MacFarland, Carey Lamprecht, Kid Lucky, Sunshine Haire & more.
Select Discography & Filmography:
Madigan i bleed: a decade of song 2004/2008
limited edition intro/retrospective collection MoonPuss Music
Select Press: for our highly original performing-composer of self-invented/community-directed soul art pop.
Bonfire Madigan is a little string outfit led by the dynamic cellist Madigan Shive ... she stirs up a ruckus. — The New Yorker.
Madigan Shive is the Bruce Springsteen of chamber punk. — SF Bay Guardian.
Madigan Shive is the vocal and lyrical heart of this avant-garde chamber pop outfit, whose members occasionally rotate. Equal parts feminist polemics, civil disobedience, and raw poetic power, it's not for the faint of heart or weak of mind. Oh, and she plays a mean cello, too. — Village Voice.
A true sacred/secular synthesis – as authentic as the bottlenecked street prayers of Blind Willie Johnson or Jackie Du Pre’s soul-splitting deliverance of Kol Nidre. But Bonfire Madigan Shive is too deep, too raw, too present for us to excavate for dialectical shards. She is music history in the making. We have to catch up. — Nathan Salsburg, Alan Lomax Collection, NYC.
Bonfire Madigan (Madigan Shive) channels the ghost of Tom Cora with her impassioned cello-playing. — The Stranger Seattle, WA.
Both by herself, and with the rotating ensemble of superior musicians collectively identified as Bonfire Madigan, Ive seen her convert neophytes into true believers. It seems almost surreal that so much musical might can emanate from such a diminutive frame. My conjecture was that she must be constructed entirely of talent. The pure. — Brandon Lieberman Drinking From Puddles KBOO-FM Portland, OR.
While surface comparisons abound, Bonfire Madigan is truly in a league of their own. Infusing a perfect meld of poetry and deliberate rawness, blending some of the finest musicianship to ever come out of Kill Rock Stars and the gorgeous and haunting lyrics of a master. — Pop Matters.
Singer-composer-vocalist Madigan Shive is Bessie Smith reincarnated as a punk rock cellist, as progressive and liberal as they come. Her powerful voice conveys irresistible emotion and her music creates a new language that is as ancient as the oldest Indian medicine woman and as modern as intergalactic space travel. — Tricia Halloran, "Brave New World" KCRW-FM Santa Monica, CA.
On Fire: Of all the zany places for a singing cellist to perform, the ultra-imaginative and captivating Bonfire Madigan has chosen, in a repeat appearance, the Cloverdale Plaza. There's gotta be some secret connection—maybe her brother works at Pick's Drive-In? Because surely Madigan, who's just finished a lauded run with ACT's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, for which she composed and performed the music, has bigger things on her mind. One part PJ Harvey, one part Arthur Russell and one part Jacqueline du Pré, Madigan in concert is dazzling; she can build a skyscraper of sound with a full-bodied fortissimo and then knock it into dust in one breath. Once a stray puzzle piece on the early '90s Olympia scene, Madigan has settled quite comfortably into San Francisco's Mission district. Buy her a milkshake at Pick's when she performs, inexplicably, on Friday, July 18, at the Cloverdale Plaza, Cloverdale, CA. — Bohemian.com Week of July 16-22, 2008 Picks by Gabe Meline.
The howls of a wounded cello and the voice of a tormented angel suffuse the blood-soaked tragedy on the American Conservatory Theater's stage. Above all - literally, seated high amid the massive organ pipes of Walt Spangler's industrial-baroque cathedral set - composer, cellist and vocalist Bonfire Madigan Shive is an electrifying one-woman heavenly choir. — San Francisco Chronicle 6/13/08
Walt Spangler’s huge set, with what seems to be an impressive array of organ pipes takes center stage against the back wall. Tucked inside the Organ is Bonfire Madigan Shive, who plays the Cello and sings the most haunting music I’ve ever heard in a play. She also has Angel Wings. You can forget Phantom of the Opera – she outdoes Andrew Lloyd Webber. — BeyondChron.org by Lee Hartgrave‚ Jun. 20‚ 2008
i bleed is truly a worthy introduction to the works of Bonfire Madigan, showing where Madigan Shive had been and where her bands music is heading. Its impossible to listen to these songs and not feel her passion .... — Jeff Marsh, Delusions of Adequacy.
Madigan Shive is sonic civil disobedience. She replaces the bullhorn with a massive avant-pop assault on cynicism, settling for crumbs, and sitting on the sidelines. Even if it has failed to do so many times before, she makes you believe that music can change the world . The soundtrack to a thousand revolutions starts here. — James Tracy Civil Disobedience Handbook: A Brief History and Practical Guide for the Politically Disenchanted.
Bonfire Madigan took the stage and proceeded to rock my socks off. Frontwoman Madigan Shive plays the cello. Hardcore. She alternates between strumming it on her lap like a guitar, and playing it upright with a bow. Overlaying the innovative musical style is a vocal performance that can range from ethereal to ragged in the same song. Topping off the whole package are laudably idealist and socially-conscious lyrics. Bonfire Madigan manages to uplift you without miring you in sap. This ain't yo' mamma's pop music. It's post-punk-folk-rock, Madigan-style. And it totally rules. — Betsy Crombie, Portland State University Vanguard.
Madigan Shive is a baroque folk-punk diva who loves clashing tone with mood. Her deep, strong voice is soulful when shes wrathful and sexy when shes standoffish. And she plays a mean cello to boot. —The Boston Phoenix.
No longer will demented minds have to wonder what might have occurred had P.J. Harvey been a cellist of compelling ability. Madigan Shive, a k a Bonfire Madigan, has shown us the way. Mind you, the only real comparisons to Harvey exist in Shive's wonderously soulful voice that seems to come from the depths, but there it is. You will play "Mad Skywriting" over and over again, for its funky syncopations that are effortlessly balanced with a droning cello melody, and Shive's irresistible singing. Ascending and plummeting through the scale, growling and bellowing, this damsel is bowing out some serious jams. — Chicago Sun-Times
San Francisco Noise Pop Festival, Bimbo's show review 02/27/2004
Bonfire Madigan: ...From The Burnpile [Kill Rock Stars] Rating: 5.9 Shive isn't exactly what you might call "accessible," and that's fine-- she's an experimentalist. The thing ...From The Burnpile has going for it is its integrity. Shive realize that while she's not exactly making music, she is making art. And she stands by it. - Aparna Mohan, Pitchfork Media
BMad. Avant Garde is no longer retro. — Ken Stein, San Francisco Mayor's Office.
As a live performer Shive is rousing theatrical in expression and movement... with a keen ability for poetic lyrics and a voice that pulls emotion right out of her belly. — Time Out New York.
... she is astounding. A fifth-generation Washingtonian, Shive brings a deep sense of history and place to the Northwest music scene, and seeing her perform is a confirmation that this region is special, and continues to produce wonders. GRANT COGSWELL — The Stranger Seattle, WA.