Carolyn Wonderland

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

April 16, 2014 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2014 at 11:16 p.m.

From heartbreak to happiness, Carolyn Wonderland holds her own on the stage with a righteous grit and soulful style.

Although primarily a blues artist, she incorporates elements of country, swing, zydeco, surf, gospel, soul and cumbia into her musical mix with a list of accolades reaching nearly 20 years back.

After playing South by Southwest, she and her band are preparing to tour the midwest and east coast before releasing a live album.

Wonderland, 41, caught up with Get Out before her show at Saturday's Jam Fest to talk about recording with The Stooges, the healing power of music and her musical perspective.

What was the experience like working with James Williamson (The Stooges) in revisiting and recording "Open Up & Bleed"/ "Gimme Some Skin"?

It was fun. It's really crazy when it's folks you really dig when you're a kid, then to meet them in real life, and they're super cool people.

He's a lifer. It's not something that I would be known for doing, so I just thought how fun that would be to try my hand at that song.

He just called out of the blue; I'm always surprised by that stuff. ... I guess you stick around and play long enough.

From talking with Tommy Elskes, who's no stranger to Victoria, I understand you pushed him in his musical recovery. Do you believe in the healing power of music?

I don't know. It's hard to tell because it's such a subjective thing.

I know when we play, a lot of times I feel like I'm not in my head, not in my body. You can tell because you'll go to look at your watch - no matter how big it is, the numbers don't make sense.

I don't know what it does for other people. I know what it does when I'm doing it, but I have no idea what it does for others.

It's always there for me; I can't turn it off. I don't know that I want to turn it off, either. It's in you; you may as well share it.

Do you see women's issues - violence, addiction - as being marginalized in blues music?

Maybe I'm just lucky that I'm surrounded by a lot of women who play.

Admittedly, when I first saw Betty Davis, I was there to see Albert Collins.

Growing up in Houston, I always got to be around folks like Alison Fischer. ... There's a lot of great players around, too. My mom played guitar, too, so it didn't freak me out.

Instruments don't care what you are, and people get over it. If you play, you play.

That thing is shaped for someone with boobs; the cut out is there.

Show you what a girl with a guitar can do, bite me.

There's a lot to be upset about; instead of finger pointing, we try to make it positive. It's more important what you leave on that stage.

Your mom played music, and you started writing your own very young. What has been the biggest factor of your musical perspective and where you are today?

Going on stage still scares the daylights out of me, but you have to do.

I guess just being willing to go with the flow even when you know it's not going your way.

With just anything, it's just being willing to try.



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