10 Questions: Carolyn Wonderland

Carolyn Wonderland, photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Austin-based musician Carolyn Wonderland and her band are spending their summer criss-crossing the nation, occasionally jumping the border into Canada and as far away as Norway and Amsterdam.

After returning home from California and a show in Lake Tahoe she was kind enough to take a moment to answer a few questions before heading back out west for shows in Colorado, Utah and Washington.

Q: You seem to keep a very full touring schedule, is there anything special that you bring with you on the road or anything you can’t bring with you that you miss when you’re out?

A: I miss my cats.

Q: Did you ever consider a different career? If so, what was it?

A: Nope.

Q: What was the first song you wrote and do you still play it?

A: I started writing songs when I was 8. So, no I don’t play those songs.

Q: Of your songs, which are your favorite to perform and why?

A: Songs are like kids, I don’t have a favorite one.

Q: What are some of your favorite meals, either on the road or at home?

A: Fresh food. Thai. The challenge is eating vegan on the road.

Q: What types of things do you like to do when you’re not on tour?

A: I don’t know what “not on tour” means anymore. I just try to schedule sleeping & eating between driving, appearances & shows.

Q: When you were growing up, what kind of music did you listen to?

A: Everything. Mostly live bands in venues that didn’t bust my fake ID.

Little Screaming Kenny, Jerry Lightfoot, Joe Guitar Hughes, Townes & all the the unusual suspects.

Carolyn Wonderland by Brio Photography

Q: What was it like to tape your first Austin City Limits segment in June?

A: I thought I was going to puke after every song. It was great to have Cole El-Saleh, Michael “Lefty” Lefkowitz & myself joined by our friends Bobby Perkins, Scott Daniels, Ray Benson, Guy Forsyth & Shelley King to make a big band sound on a few songs!

It airs on PBS November 8.

The funny thing is, I’ll be in Amsterdam for WonderJaminAmsterdam when it airs & it’ll be 8 hours time difference… so technically it’ll be my birthday (the 9th) where I am & I cannot think of a better present.

Q: Are there any records you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend?

A: Papa Mali’s “Do Your Thing,” Guy Forsyth’s “Love Songs: For and Against,” James McMurtry’s “Just Us Kids,” Ruthie Foster’s “The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster.”

Q: You participated in the Million Musician March for Peace in March and a lot of your songs have a political touch. Which causes are important to you?

A: I find it important to support organizations that feed people, offer shelter, clothing, a peaceful existence & opportunities that are otherwise ignored.

I have been blessed to work with groups like HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) & the SIMS foundation – both groups that work with physical & mental health issues in Austin.

In the peace movement, I have been more than happy to work with the Crawford Peace House, Camp Casey [editor note – the Camp Casey in Crawford, TX associated with Cindy Sheehan], Veterans for Peace, Gold Star Families for Peace, Million Musician March.

I feel the best conversations I have had regarding Peace have come from visits to VA Hospitals. There was a time in South Dakota where I played at the VA & felt a sharp pain in my soul upon leaving. It is a humbling experience that leaves one convinced you must do something to insure these honorable people don’t get lied to & used in such a manner & then left with insufficient care upon their return.

I also feel the incarceration of our citizens for the mere possession or enjoyment (or medical use) of a plant is something that should have been rectified long ago. But since it hasn’t, I am openly of service to groups like WAAM, MPP (Marijuana Policy Project), NORML & the Seattle Hempfest.

It is my great honor to serve on the board of a new foundation named after my dear friend, mentor, neighbor & one of my first drummers, Uncle John Turner. The UJT Foundation has been set up to help Austin musicians suffering from Hep-C & it’s many complications.

I learned how to be of service to charities while playing in the Austin all-star gospel band, the Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers. You see, I thought one had to have money to help out in any meaningful way… I was wrong. You just need patience, time & a will to do the work. The Harmonizers play for free, pass a tip jar & donate ALL of the money to Central Texas charities a few times a year. In just over 10 years, the band has raised over $100,000. I am not mentioning this to brag. I am just saying that if we can do this, SO CAN YOU.

Carolyn and Band will be playing:
Thirsty Parrot (Colorado Springs) on Aug. 7th
Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey (Denver) on Aug. 8th
Smokin’ Moe’s (Winter Park) on Aug. 9th
Fox Theater (Boulder) on Aug. 11th.


Photos
Top: Todd V. Wolfson, Carolyn’s MySpace
Bottom: Brio Photography, CarolynWonderland.com

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