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Volume 69, Issue 82, Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Arts & Entertainment

Singer's 'Revolution' begins

By Bridget Brown
The Daily Cougar

When Carolyn Wonderland was eight years old her mother taught her an important lesson -- how to play three guitar chords, and to never, ever touch her Martin guitar with her dirty fingers. She was never allowed to use a pick on the expensive, wooden instrument -- a great feat for an eight-year-old's small hands. This began the mastery of her unique finger-picking style, and a long career with a great deal of heart and talent, but not enough recognition.

Now living in Austin, Carolyn Wonderland still comes back to hometown Houston every Tuesday to play for her fans.
Dixie Ann Dalton / The Daily Cougar

Wonderland's soulfulness stands at the core of her sound. As her voice croons the other elements -- blues, country, zydeco and gospel -- each makes its presence known without being overpowering enough to loop her in with one genre. Featured on more than 20 CD releases, her album Bloodless Revolution is a testament to the time she has spent developing and perfecting her sound. Along the way she has worked with Los Lobos, Bob Dylan and the Greatful Dead's piano player Guy Forsythe.

Wonderland, a Houston native, moved to Austin nearly two years ago, but quickly found herself homeless, and playing her guitar on the streets to the same people who saw her in clubs.

The time she spent sleeping in her van spawned the song "Homelessness in Austin," where she sings, "My bank account's as barren as my stomach today / but there's some dog food, so the little pup's OK."

Bloodless Revolution resonates with political statements -- something that is fairly new to Wonderland's music. The tearjerker "Annie's Scarlet Letter," is about the pain a mother feels after getting thrown in jail for selling marijuana. "This Land" plays like a gospel tune, but the message is one of stopping war and protecting the Earth.

Wonderland makes the long drive from Austin every Tuesday night to entertain the regulars at Last Concert Café. She said they always have "a good ol' time," but those who can't make it should still support Houston's growing music scene.

"Go and see one new band a month until you find something that moves you, because you're in a big city full of great bands," she said.

Carolyn Wonderland

Bloodless Revolution

Independent release

The verdict: Wonderland's talent abounds and touches the heart.

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