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Wonderland performs tonight, where—-who knows?—-she may bring some trumpet and well-placed whistling to the stage. “It’s worthwhile to sometimes write on something other than your main instrument in order to step out of the patterns and boxes they hold,” she says. “A song like “Misunderstood” would have been a different song if I had a guitar in my hand at the time, and why not throw a trumpet part in a song now and then?”
Part of Austin’s allure for the musically inclined is the ease of collaboration with a host of music pros, including Asleep at the Wheel founder Ray Benson. Benson produced Wonderland’s last record, 2008’s Miss Understood. “Working with Ray and everyone at Bismeaux, we had the luxury of time. It allowed us enough time to include our heroes and friends in Austin—-Guy Forsyth, Shelley King, Tosca String Quartet, and John Mills with those horn arrangements. They could pop in and lay down tracks with us,” Wonderland says.
One of Miss Understood’s strongest offerings, “Feed Me to the Lions,” exemplifies Wonderland’s songwriting approach. “One can only write about honest experiences and try to make them universal in theme,” she says. “Songs are sometimes Post-it notes to the writer, other times they are universal billboards, often in the same piece.”
Work is nearing completion on her next Album, titled Peace Meal and slated for release in September. This time Benson is sharing producing duties with Larry Campbell. Much of the recording was done in Austin while four songs were tracked at Levon Helm’s Woodstock, N.Y., studio in January.
Wonderland also recently tied the knot with writer, comedian, and Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show alum A. Whitney Brown. She’s calling their travels together on the road “our perpetual honeymoon tour.” A tour that unfortunately also leaves little time for a band “mostly full of political junkies” to soak in D.C.’s political side.
Carolyn Wonderland performs tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Hill Country Barbecue Market, 410 7th St. NW. $10.