Texas-based blueswoman Carolyn Wonderland combines soulful vocals, tremendous guitar-playing, diverse songwriting and a thoroughly engaging stage presence into a deliciously potent whole. Wonderland and her band will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Palms Playhouse, 13 Main St. in Winters. Tickets are $20.
Wonderland’s most defining characteristics as a musician and performer are her versatility and excellence. As a guitar player, she can play with authoritative force, restrained delicacy, rock-influenced searing fire and Delta-influenced slide-guitar greasiness.
As a vocalist, she usually sings with a great big voice that belies her diminutive frame — her power as a singer has drawn repeated comparisons to Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt — but she can also croon with a lullaby softness or toss in a heart-grabbing New Orleans-style catch.
On the songwriting front, Wonderland blends the expected and the unexpected — for example, a rockin’ blues song that, when listened to more closely, is a reflection on visiting John Lennon’s memorial Strawberry Fields, hardly a common topic in blues songs — into music that is innovative that but not jarringly so.
A bit of a renegade, Wonderland has a penchant for incorporating elements of a variety of musical styles including zydeco, swing, country, surf, gospel, soul and occasionally a bit of cumbia into the blues mix. And even though she’s achieved “guitar goddess” status, Wonderland isn’t afraid to set her trusty ax down to add mandolin, barrelhouse piano or trumpet into the mix if the song or the moment calls for it.
Tickets for Wonderland’s show at The Palms are available at Armadillo Music in Davis, Watermelon Music in Woodland, Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters and at the door if not sold out. For more information, call 530-795-1825, or visit palmsplayhouse.com and carolynwonderland.com.