Carolyn Wonderland returns to Abilene Bar and Lounge in Rochester NY

Carolyn in Wonderland has performed a lot of shows in Rochester over the years. Some big and outside, like to jazz and lilac festivals, and some small and intimate, like Abilene Bar and Lounge on Liberty Pole Way in downtown.

“I love them all, but they’re so different,” said the singer and blues guitarist in an unmistakable Texan accent. “At Abilene you can be very free. I don’t have to watch my hangover, and the music lovers are there. But I also like to play at festivals, because I don’t think music should be restricted to people 21 and over.

In addition, she appreciates the lack of self-awareness and honesty shown by children during performances. “Kids don’t need a drink to dance, and if they don’t like it, they’ll let you know,” said Wonderland, who describes music as the only thing that has held his attention since childhood. .

She returns to Abilene for a 7:30 p.m. show on November 16 (So ​​let the pot mouth fly) while on a tour stop to support his new album, Tempt fate. (Tickets are $ 40 in advance and $ 45 on the day of the show at abilene.showare.com.)

The recent release of the LP crowns what turned out to be several years for the Houston native. Turbulent and scary because of the coronavirus pandemic, but also triumphant, thanks to peak professional moments.

Now based in Austin, she has completed a stint on solo guitar in British blues legend. John mayall‘s band (a place once occupied by Eric Clapton and Mick taylor), was signed at Alligator files – who extinguished Tempt fate, produced by roots rocker Dave alvin – and embarked on her own tour.

Wonderland, that matters Bob dylan as a fan it was also the first lady playing solo guitar for Mayall, but in that role she didn’t focus on music history.

“You can’t, or you will trip over yourself,” she said. Also, “It’s about trying to support what John is doing. There is magic in this group. Her voice is what you want to support.

Either way, she said, “I definitely got an education. John wants to jump off that diving board. Take it and run with it and do something else with it, something different every night.

Some performances were magical, she said. “Some were, ‘Sorry for that extra seventh dish over there. Oops.’ Even then, John has a great sense of humor about things.

Following:Rochester Jazz Festival to be held downtown in 2022 after two-year hiatus due to COVID-19

Signed on the iconic blues guitar label

She is also breaking new ground with Alligator Records, which describes her as her “first female guitar hero»In the 50-year history of the label.

“It blows my mind,” she said, noting that most of the records in her personal collection are from Alligator artists. “I was a little intimidated when I got the call,” she said – and delighted to have the legendary Alvin, founding member of The Blasters, in the role of producer.

He told writer Michael Corcoran that he wanted to work with Wonderland because his guitar playing doesn’t mimic anyone else’s: “She definitely doesn’t mimic imitators like so many blues guitarists do. or modern blues / rock. She has developed her own efficient way of playing blues that incorporates songs from folk, country and even psychedelic riffs, and she always surprises me with her guitar lines and melodic twists.

Wonderland developed an early love for the genre, which was abundant in Houston during his formative years, and performed his first professional concert at the age of 15. “There’s a lot of freedom in there,” she said of the blues. “I’m able to jam in a way that you don’t get in other (musical) forms. Even before I got kicked out of high school, I was making my way into blues jams. When you’re a teenager, you’re much more of a sponge.

Alvin also praised her ability as a singer to go from “an intimate, whispering sweetness to a Saturday night bar sound that shakes the earth.”

Many others have compared her voice to that of Janis Joplin, but she is hesitant to compare. “This is something that I cannot experience under any circumstances,” she said. “She was singular.” But Wonderland’s live performances included one of Joplin’s songs, “What Good Can Drinkin ‘Do,” written by the icon.

Wonderland’s Abilene ensemble will feature cuts from Tempt fate, including the guitar-rich original “Broken Hearted Blues” and “Fragile Peace and Certain War,” as well as a cover of Grateful Dead’s “Loser” and “It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry. “

On tour during COVID

She said she enjoyed playing at the club, which was the first here to require customers to show proof of complete COVID vaccination, a policy that remains in place.

Wonderland appreciates this as a touring artist who has canceled shows due to the pandemic and resumed them with extreme caution.

“There is nothing scarier than being on the road during COVID,” she said. “One person falls ill and everything collapses. “

In addition, “we do not want to make the situation worse. Our motto is: Safe Travel, Dangerous Music.

And while some performers have spoken about the weirdness of playing masked fans, it didn’t faze her.

“If you see people’s eyes you can tell when they’re smiling,” she said. “You can definitely see smiling eyes.”

The hardest part of the public health crisis for her was not being able to hug her friends, she said.

“I’m really looking forward to the day when that’s not a consideration.”

Journalist Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to mgreenwo@rocheste.gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwood.


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