As I stated in my Seth Walker post, I had gathered my group of music aficionados for a night in
full of tunes and adventure. Prior to Carolyn Wonderland’s set, we all were replete, having imbibed the Grey Goose with abandon and enrobed ourselves with the dapper musical stylings of Mr. Walker. Had we called it a night, however, we would have missed the wonder of Wonderland. San Antonio
Carolyn is a true Renaissance woman. Her talents go beyond vocals and guitar to include songwriting, mandolin, slide guitar, and piano. In addition, it’s hard to put the woman in one genre. She deftly moves from blues to ballad, from rock to country.
She opened with Miss Understood, the title track from her latest album. It’s a raucous romp built on her facile slide guitar technique. Her voice is somewhere between Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, with small touches of Wynnona Judd when she waxes country. In fact (although I’m sure she’s sick of hearing it) the Janis Joplin comparisons are hard to ignore. You know from the moment she opens her mouth, she’s all in; she’s a siren spectacle with blazing red hair and gut-wrenching vocals.
Watching her delicate hands speed through the chords and pluck the strings of her Fender with her thumb pick and fingertips is entrancing. She’s one of those guitar players who manage to take the instrument to the pinnacle of its potential; she achieves this in an intricate dance of mutual respect between her fingers and the instrument, as opposed to other players I’ve seen who bend the guitar to their will with brute force.
Miss Holloway and I were equally inspired and empowered by this female force of nature. Where the blues often wander through the darkness of the human experience, Carolyn Wonderland is the moon, mysterious and somehow illuminating the darkness. Like the moon, her music moves through phases of light and shadow, inexorably powerful, and the audience moves with her phases, unable to resist the pull of her gravity.
When our time with Ms. Wonderland was concluded, our male companions were exhausted. Miss Holloway and I, however, were still aglow from the night’s auditory adventures. We dropped the boys at the hotel and ventured over to Mi Tierra for some of the spicy. As we deconstructed our evening, we realized that San Antonio had brought us exactly what we had hoped: music of such variety that our souls were bursting with contentment, a pleasant level of grain alcohol intoxication that we may or may not regret the next day, a nice slow burn for our culinary drives, and enough intrigue involving the opposite sex to whet our appetites for future adventures.
Que te diviertas!