Midway through a summer of touring, Texas multi-instrumentalist blues-rocker Carolyn Wonderland has established a simple road routine.
“Just drive, play, repeat...occasionally shower,” Wonderland told Lake Tahoe Action. “It’s a good summer tour, you know?”
Carolyn Wonderland and her band are playing Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room Saturday, Aug. 3. An accomplished player on guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, trumpet and more, she is joined by Cole El-Saleh (keyboards, key bass) and Rob Hooper (drums).
Born Carolyn Bradford, she grew up in Houston and took to musical instruments at a young age. An early exit from high school paved the way for a career in music.
“I grew up in Houston,” Bradford said. “I dropped out of school and was hanging out at blues bars, just kind of playing with folks like Jerry Lightfoot, Little Screaming Kenny, Joe ‘Guitar’ Hughes, people like that. I moved to Austin in ‘99 after meeting Doug Sahm on the road. You know, just have always played, that’s pretty much a constant. I’ve got a band that I love. I get to travel with Cole and Rob and it makes my life pretty darn happy.”
Bradford’s musical style is difficult to categorize, spanning a number of different musical genres.
“I’ll travel with the strings so I’ll bring a guitar, lap-steel, sometimes mandolin and the trumpet, but usually guitar and lap-steel for sure,” she said. “We play a little bit of everything, I don’t know, it’s hard to put us into a genre, really. Some people call us blues. That’s fine. Some people call us rock. That’s fine. We’re folk, I suppose, for some people.”
Bradford has released a number of studio albums during her career. Her most recent, “Peace Meal,” was released by Bismeaux Records in 2011. She is currently planning upcoming live and studio albums, although she is unsure which will take priority.
“Right now the race is on. We’re gonna see if there’ll be a live one or a studio one that will end up being finished first,” Bradford said. “We’ve spent a little more time at home trying to write stuff and get the next record ready.”
This year has seen an uptick in Bradford and company’s touring schedule compared to recent years. She was forced to reduce her touring schedule in 2011 after vocal complications.
“We cut back a little bit the last two years. I had lost my voice and so I’d been working on it pretty much nonstop,” she said. “Now I’ve got it back I can do, not a pretty three octaves, but it’s three octaves.”
Bradford and her band have been on the road for much of the summer, with particularly memorable experiences at High Sierra Music Festival and the Oregon Country Fair, Bradford said. They will complete their U.S. tour before heading for Northern Europe.
“We’re heading out to see you guys and then working our way across the U.S. for the next month or two, and then it’s off to Norway,” Bradford said, noting that the group typically plays several shows overseas each year.
When it comes to stage performances, Bradford takes advantage of her prowess with multiple instruments; beyond that, she isn’t much concerned with elaborately planning a show.
“I don’t know,” she said. “We just close our eyes and kind of jump in and hopefully some people like it. Sometimes we’re surprised they do, sometimes we’re surprised they don’t. You never can tell, you just play what you play.”