A musical force equipped with the soulful vocals of Janis and the guitar slinging skills of Stevie Ray, Carolyn Wonderland reaches into the depths of the Texas blues tradition with the wit of a poet. She hits the stage with unmatched presence, a true legend in her time.
Carolyn grew up the child of a singer in a band and began playing her mother’s vintage Martin guitar when other girls were dressing dolls. She’s gone from being the teenage toast of her hometown Houston to sleeping in her van in Austin amid heaps of critical acclaim for fine recordings Alcohol & Salvation, Bloodless Revolution, and more recently, Miss Understood and Peace Meal.
Along with the guitar and the multitude of other instruments she learned to play – trumpet, accordion, piano, mandolin, lap steel – Wonderland even thows in a whistling solo on occasion.
Her breakthrough album release was 2008’s Miss Understood (Bismeaux). From appearances on PBS’s Austin City Limits to top slots at major festivals around the world, Wonderland’s album quickly reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Blues chart and her live shows left a trail of screaming fans in its wake.
The follow up, Peace Meal (2011), was produced by a stellar cast including long-time supporter and inspiration, Ray Benson, and two-time Grammy winner Larry Campbell (the force behind The Band drummer Levon Helm and his recent comeback) and founding Monkee, Michael Nesmith. 2014 highlights included key festival appearances in North America and Europe, as well as guest sit-in appearances with cohorts Vintage Trouble, and vocal performance on two tracks of James Williamson’s (Stooges) release of newly recorded versions of songs he and Iggy wrote in 1973 and 1974 called “Re-Licked” along with Jello Biafra, Mark Lanegan, Alison Mosshart, and many more. 2015 highlights include her first-ever New Orleans Jazz Fest appearance, appearance on Carson Daly Show, and a live album called “Live Texas Trio.”
Cole El-Saleh plays keyboards and key bass. His keyboard work can be heard on Carolyn Wonderland’s most recent three albums, as well as about a hundred other projects, mostly recorded and produced in Austin, Texas between 1996 and the present. Rob Hooper was born in Dallas, TX and started playing drums when he was 11 years old. Rob started playing professionally at age 18. He has played drums for Jimmie Dale Gilmore, the Resentments, Seth Walker, Guy Forsyth, Monte Montgomery, and many more..
“Carolyn Wonderland is the real deal! She’s an amazing guitar player. She whistled a solo. She even played the trumpet! And damn, can she sing.” – Los Angeles Times
“A dollop of Janis Joplin, a slice of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a big load of soulful individuality… that’s Wonderland, a seething-hot Texas singer-guitarist. And she can write, too! Produced by Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, Miss Understood focuses on tough yet vulnerable blues, but also captures the melodic soul of classic American song… No wonder Dylan is an avowed fan.” – Daniel Gewertz, Boston Herald
“When she blisters the guitar and cocks her head fetchingly to sing her songs like “I’m Innocent” she stands in the good company of Sue Foley, Debbie Davies, and Bonnie Raitt. But when she whistles, as she does with disarming ease on another of her compositions “I’m the Man,” or picks up the trumpet, she’s one of a kind.” – Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
“One of the most impressively powerful voices recently heard anywhere, regardless of sex. Able to boon, cajole, promise and growl with equal power, she plays guitar with much the same forcefulness!” – Matt Weitz, Dallas Observer
“Carolyn Wonderland’s live shows are just outright phenomenal. Top notch, five-stars, off the meter – whatever the clich., Carolyn and her band meet it…Her voice can be as beautiful as an angel and as powerful as a Class 5 hurricane all within the drop of a hat…One thing’s for certain, some forces – even those barely five feet tall – cannot be contained.” – Dante Dominick, Rockzillaworld Magazine
“Based in Austin, Texas, (Carolyn’s) unique combination of musical mastery adds to the state’s impressive legacy of sonic genius…Wonderland is also an insightful, gutsy, intelligent songwriter with an extremely versatile talent that spans just about every genre you can name…I am happy to report that at last count my total Carolyn mileage is as follows: 2,304 driving miles and 19,544 flying miles. Trust me – if you ever see them live, you’ll understand!” – Kelley Guiney, HotBands.com