“If Stevie Ray Vaughn and Janice Joplin had a love child, Carolyn Wonderland would be the end result…. She’s that good!” _SGB
I have an incredible story to share in this review: I’m in downtown Houston on a Tuesday night waiting for the cleaning crew to wrap up their detailing on a 3 story MCI/ Worldcom job that I was overseeing. Switching stations, as they were back then, typically. didn’t have any windows. I had been on the job since 7am and it was now 10:30pm so I decided to go up on the roof to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Houston skyline. As I got to the roof, I heard this faint sound cutting through the late-night air Northwest of me. I walked to that quadrant of the roof so that I could hear a bit better. Man am I glad I did! Because what I heard from across I-10 and six city blocks away from my location was the most powerful voice I had heard in ages.
With my curiosity peaked, I went back downstairs and told the cleaning crew “lead” that I’d be back in an hour. I hadn’t taken a break all day and was hungry anyways, so I figured what the heck. They were only vacuuming under the raised floor, what could possibly go wrong? I got in my truck, rolled down the window and followed this enigmatic voice like a pirate to a siren!
When I got to the venue it was a “hole in the wall” bar with red entry door that was locked. I did the tap-tada-tap-tap knock a few times and one of those long-haired hippy people answered the door welcoming me in. The bar itself was so small 5 peeps couldn’t have sat at it and the place had some humble looking tables scattered about for maybe a lunch crowd at mid-day. So, we got to talking over a Corona with lemon ;0) and he explained the history of the bar to me. The bar was once the oldest whorehouse in Houston, TX and the new owners had purchased it in 1983. Back when they had brought I-10 through Houston the city diplomats demanded that the Madame of the whorehouse sell off her establishment and her reply was something that goes a little like this: “Sure John I’ll sell the place, but your wife is going to know you come here every Thursday to visit your Boo. And David? What’s the Mrs. going to think when she finds out you prefer clean shaven young men?” If you look at a map today, you will see I-10 bend around The Last Concert Cafe’s Establishment!
Back to Carolyn Wonderland:
So, I walk through a single door onto a covered patio with more tables and some little rooms surrounding the patio. The patio leads out to a sand pit with a pavilion like stage on the other side of the pit. Several picnic tables are scattered in the sand and there’s a little table where an old black man sold bead and sterling jewelry of all sorts. The place is a Blue Jeans and T-Shirt place that is so cozy anyone who goes there feels welcomed and at home.
As I looked around the place though, I saw no one but Carolyn. She was sitting on the front of the stage with her feet dangling and said “Hi” to me. She was such a sweet spirit to talk to, so I shared what brought me there and she asked if I’d like to hear another song. It was around 11:30 Ish and I told her I would follow her and come see her the next time she came. Well, she just started playing her guitar sitting there to and what I heard floored me! She dropped Judgment Day Blues on me. For me! She was there honing her skills that night. That’s why no one was there. She wasn’t supposed to be there!
The following song is a Dylan-Hendrix tune that will always be my favorite performance of Carolyn’s. I pray for her success in whatever she chooses to do in life as she has rolled in and out of places keeping her faith and dignity in a business that can crush anyone. Most of all, she’s always been an incredibly wonderfully spirited person to share a few moments in life with. Peace_ SGB