Fiery Carolyn Wonderland heats High Sierra Music Fest

Tahoe Onstage

Carolyn Wonderland slides into the High Sierra Music Festival this week.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Carolyn Wonderland is among the litany of outstanding Texas blues guitarists, but she uses her voice as an even greater instrument. Her songwriting is superb, as well, and last month the triple threat from Austin released a blues-jazz gem of an album.

The fiery redhead from Austin will return to the hot High Sierra Music Festival for performances at the Big Meadow stage, at 8:05 p.m. Saturday and 11:45 a.m. Sunday, the latter show no doubt featuring Wonderland’s gospel blues.

“When I go to the mountains, I feel like a shampoo bottle on an airplane,” Wonderland joked before opening a set June 10 in the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room, elevation 6,400 feet. No need for concern at High Sierra. Quincy’s elevation is a mere 3,432 feet.

The Crown Room appearance was an album release show 1,750 miles from Austin on the final day of a tour. While that might seem unconventional, Wonderland, of course, always has been called “Miss Understood.”

Tahoe Onstage

The “Moon Goes Missing” during the night of Wonderland’s album release show.
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

Wonderland’s new album is “Moon Goes Missing” and on the night of her show the moon over Tahoe was hidden behind clouds. The moon wasn’t all that was missing.

“Songs from the new album will provide the evening’s thematic soundscape as we bask in the bliss under the Blake Tree back there,” Wonderland announced.

Blake’s Tree was placed next to the sound board after sound engineer Blake Beeman died of cancer in 2015. The show marked Wonderland’s first Crown Room performance since her dear friend had died.

The performance stopped for a minute as the band held a birthday toast for Shelley Cox, who has been the tour manager for eight years. Wonderland’s shows are often as informal and humor-filled as they are inspirational. This one had some poignancy, too.

“Here’s looking at you, Blake,” Wonderland said, tipping her glass before an emotional rendition of “She Wants to Know,” one of the many standout tracks on the new album.

  • Carolyn Wonderland
    High Sierra Music Festival
    – 8:05-9:20 p.m. Saturday, Big Meadow
    – 11:45 a.m. -1:15 p.m. Sunday, Big Meadow
  • Carolyn Wonderland
    ‘Moon Goes Missing’
    Label: Home Record
    Release: June 9, 2017
    Standout tracks: “Open Eyes,” “Swamp,” “Hellfire Bitters”
  • Carolyn Wonderland
    Crystal Bay Casino, June 10, 2017
    1 – Nobody’s Fault But Mine
    2 – Come Together
    3 – Honey Bee
    4 – To Be Free
    5 – Swamp
    6 – Two Trains
    7 – Things You Do (Shelley King)
    8 – Miss Understood
    9 – You Can’t Hide From God
    10 – Judgement Day
    11 – She Wants to Know
    Coming Home

    Tahoe Onstage

    Blake’s Tree lights up the Crown Room.

    Tahoe Onstage

    A birthday toast for tour manager Shelley Cox.

    Tahoe Onstage

    Bobby Perkins and guest vocalist Shelley King.

    Tahoe Onstage

    Kevin Lance on drums.

    Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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