Carolyn Wonderland with her band mates: Kevin Lance on drums and Bobby Perkins on Bass will be performing in Kalamazoo at the 24th annual Kalamazoo Blues Festival at Wings Event Center on Saturday, July 15th.
G-Note Entertainment Magazine had a nice conversation with Carolyn Wonderland about her musical journeys and that's ahead on the horizon. (After she got good reception on her phone.)
Carolyn Wonderland is a musical tsunami that is often compared to the soulful Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt and the guitar skills of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Carolyn says “You know, I really don't mind being compared to those legends. It's pretty humbling to be honest with you. Those are mighty big shoe to fill and I have little feet!”
Carolyn Wonderland goes deep into the Texas blues tradition with the pedal to the metal. She commands the stage with passion and presence, she does indeed fill the shoes of the artists she gets compared to.
Carolyn grew up the child of a singer in a band and began playing her mother’s vintage Martin guitar and she told me when I asked her about not using a pick to play the guitar, she said "That's right, I don't use a pick because I got grounded from my mother when I scratched her Martin guitar by using a pick.”
G-Note- Was it hard to play your guitar without using a pick?
CW- “Oh yeah, I really had to focus and think about every note being strum or plucked. In hindsight, it worked out pretty good for me.”
One of the questions I just had to ask her was about her marriage to actor / comedian and SNL alum A. Whitney Brown. And being married by none other than Monkee original guitarist, Mike Nesmith. Carolyn told me “Yeah, me and Whit had met Mike on set at one of his video ranches. He introduced us to each other and before you know it, we were getting married and Mike Nesmith had offered to officiate the ceremony, and we hell yeah! I think Whit had paid the $20 or so for him to be ordained online. Nesmith came down to Austin Texas and we got married.”
“I was dressed in white, and barefoot, Whitney was looking in in dress casual clothes and it was all of 15 minutes, we do-let's go get Tequila. It was a hoot and a great experience. I like those kinds of weddings. My brother had the 3-hour Catholic wedding. It was cool, but I liked my style of wedding better!”
G-Note- Carolyn, do you want to talk a little about your early 'rebel' days?
CW- “Sure, I didn't have to try too hard to get kicked out of school. At the time, I was in high school outside Houston it was the height of the 'Satanic Panic' or whatever. I got in trouble for leading a protesting and things like that.”
“It's funny, but I remember I was like 17, and I was going to the school board with my 'Roberts Rules Of Orders' in my hand and all excited because I was going to show them that I was all prepared and talk about legal precedent and whatnot. I was just ready for them, then they opened the meeting talking about how Satan was infiltrating our schools, and I'm thinking 'shit' I brought the wrong book!”
G-Note- Was it that rebel side of you caused you to be homeless for a while?
CW- “Yeah it did, it shaped me and it definitely got me ready for touring because I knew that there would be showers involved. (Chuckling) You know it prepares for for the long stretches on the road and after a while you get this empty nest syndrome from my van, I always felt safe and sheltered in my van.”
G-Note- Is all of the travel and all that goes with it the worst part of being a touring musician?
CW- “I think so, you don't eat right, you don't sleep right, you have to unpack and reload after shows and the long drives after a bit kinda wears on you. Like now, I broke a toe, can't do anything about it, it's just the way it is. But I'll also say that when we all travel together we all have each other’s back and that helps a lot.”
“As musicians, we always look for that perfect balance of travel life and home life. You don't want to be out so long on the road to where it's becomes bad and you miss your life and you don't want to home so much to wear you don't want to stay there all of the time. It's tough, but you do the best you can.”
G-Note- I read where you like to write song in the quiet of the night when you are driving you van from gig to gig can you talk about that?
CW- “I am a creature of the night! Don't care much for the daytime or sunshine so when the band is sleeping or being quiet and there isn't anything I want to hear on the radio, I'll focus on something and will sing about a star, or something, I do get creative like that because I do like the chance to just think and sometimes you just go fishing for songs or song ideas but now my new thing is “Haiku”, Remember that from elementary school? The 3 lines of 5 -7- 5 words that make a story, it's not as easy as you might think but it sure is a lot of fun and opens a bunch of other stuff, I really like it.”
G-Note- That could be something you do when you get home, you collect all of your Haiku and you publish them? What do you think about that?
CW- “Well, probably not, I really like to paint when I get home, I'm not very good at it but I like to do it. “What is the subject topics you paint, is it people or landscapes? “Ah, it's more “psychedelic” You know, the inner Carolyn, it's hard to explain you just have to see it to get it. It starts as a theme but it becomes something else.”
G-Note- When you are on the road, does your husband travel with you?
CW- “Sometimes, lately he has been getting into gardening and really into hot peppers. It delicious! We can out on tour take some of his sauce (one drop only) and put it on some food but it's just enough to liven it up!”
G-Note- Carolyn, does talent win or does marketing win in the music industry?
CW- “Oh tough one, that can be subjective everyone does their thing -some folks musicians speak to and some folks they don't. Some of my friends do not understand why I love Bob Dylan's voice. But I've learn to accept what people like and don't like with singers. Everyone has their like and dislikes about singers."
G-Note- When you get home after this 9-week tour, are you going to go check out live music in your area?
CW- “Hard to say, maybe, I'll bet you I stay on the couch for a few days!”
G-Note- Carolyn, what is the one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
CW- “I'm not really not all of that interesting, but I can crochet a hat in half of an afternoon!”
Please go and buy Carolyn Wonderlands new album, "Moon Goes Missing” and catch her Saturday night in Kalamazoo at the Kalamazoo Blues Festival at Wings Event Center on July 15th.