Carolyn Wonderland brings vibrant blues and beyond on California tour
Texas-based blueswoman Carolyn Wonderland combines soulful vocals, tremendous guitar-playing, diverse songwriting, and a thoroughly engaging stage presence into a deliciously potent whole. Wonderland and her band are heading to California this week for a series of club and festival dates.
Carolyn Wonderland’s most defining characteristics as a musician and performer are her breathtaking versatility and excellence. As a guitar player, Wonderland can play with authoritative force, restrained delicacy, rock-influence searing fire, and Delta-influenced slide-guitar greasiness.
As a vocalist, Wonderland usually sings with a great big voice that belies her diminutive frame — her power as a singer has drawn repeated comparisons to Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt — but she can also croon with a lullaby softness or toss in a heart-grabbing New Orleans-style catch.
On the songwriting front, Wonderland blends the expected and the unexpected—for example, a rockin’ blues song that includes a memory of visiting John Lennon’s memorial Strawberry Fields with “Saturday Night Live” alum and now-husband A. Whitney Brown; hardly a common topic in blues songs — into music that is innovative but not jarringly so.
A bit of a renegade, Wonderland has a penchant for incorporating elements of a variety of musical styles including zydeco, swing, country, surf, gospel, soul, and occasionally a bit of cumbia into the blues mix. And even though she’s achieved “guitar goddess” status, Wonderland isn’t afraid to set her trusty ax down in order to add mandolin, barrelhouse piano, or trumpet into the mix if the song or the moment calls for it.
Carolyn Wonderland in full flight on stage is a sight to behold: she plays and sings with an honest abandon—long red hair flying, hands blurring across the guitar, body swaying to the music — that is all the more effective because of her absolute lack of artifice or pretense. Wonderland’s humor (glimpses of which are seen in the word play of titles her two most recent albums Miss Understood and Peace Meal) flashes out in some lyrics and in between songs, acting as an unexpected and effective counterbalance to the intensity of her playing.
No one-trick pony, Wonderland has the goods as a musician and performer to keep audiences captivated.
Carolyn Wonderland will be performing at The Palms Playhouse (13 Main Street in Winters, California) on Thursday March 7 at 8 p.m.; tickets are $20 and are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Watermelon in Woodland, and at the door if not sold out.
For more information, call (530) 795-1825, or visit palmsplayhouse.com and carolynwonderland.com.
Upcoming performances include
~ Wednesday March 6—The Last Day Saloon, Santa Rosa, CA
~ Thursday March 7—The Palms Playhouse, Winters, CA
~ Friday March 8—Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz, CA
~ Saturday March 9—San Jose Jazz Winterfest, San Jose, CA