Blues Guitarist Carolyn Wonderland Follows Her Own Muse

The marriage of blues guitarist Carolyn Wonderland and writer/comedian A. Whitney Brown officiated by Michael Nesmith, former member of the Monkees, was the featured wedding in the New York Times Style section on Sunday, March 6.

The ceremony on Doug Sahm Hill in Austin's Butler Park began at 4.44 p.m. sharp. The time was chosen by Mr. Brown, who emphasizes that everything one does occurs at a specific moment. The wedding and environs were as homey and casual as the parties involved.

"The wedding was very sweet and I'm happy being in The New York Times for falling in love because it's better than being there for doing something bad," she said.

Growing up in Houston, she was more interested in playing her guitar and singing than attending school. Although her mother once sang in a band and prophesied the ups and downs ahead, that only propelled Wonderland onward.

She acquired her surname early on from a high school friend. They were booked for a gig but didn't have a name, so he suggested Wonderland and it stuck. During high school, she played four or five nights a week in blues bars. She is certain that she would have been thrown out of school if she had not left of her own accord..

From the beginning, her family and friends were her strongest support, even though her mother would have preferred she say in school and become a music teacher. Today the support comes from her band. They travel together in a van and appreciate each other's sense of humor along the way.

Texas has hailed Wonderland's talents from the get go. Her awards include the Best Blues Band (1996), Best Female Vocalist (1997), Local Musician of the Year and Song of the Year - "Blue Lights" (1999), Best Blues Songwriter of the Year (1999), Best Female Vocalist (2000), Best Blues Band (2009) and Best Female Vocalist (2009). She also received the Gold Award from Flagstaff International Film Festival for her music video of "Party on Houston."

Since her appearance on "Austin City Limits" in 2008, her music has been used on NBC's "Homicide" and Fox's "Time of Your Life." In 2009, she was a headlining artist at the annual Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Tiny Wonderland, who tops only 5 feet 3 inches, is huge in the blues world. Hailed as a "Blues Guitar Goddess," she has wowed and played with B. B. King, Buddy Guy and other great artists. Since Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel signed her to his label, Bob Dylan has been phoning her to play with him.

The lyrics she has composed for all but a few of the songs on her CDs are carefully crafted. Many like "Annie's Scarlet Letter," "Homelessness in Austin" and "Throw My Love" draw on "a little bit of everything"experienced or viewed, and the varied local Austin charities she supports.

She explains that she doesn't want to waste her time hating people, so she writes about things that can happen to anybody to teach folks to be nice to each other. This attitude matches the philosophy emblazoned across her albums, "I speak not with guns, but with flowers."

Emily Cary is a prize-winning teacher and novelist whose articles about entertainers appear regularly in the DC Examiner. She is a genealogist, an avid traveler, and a researcher who incorporates landscapes, cultures and the power of music in her books and articles.

by Emily Cary; Thursday, June 23, 2011 @ 08:00 AM [1893]

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