The universe’s band: Shawan and the Wonton come to the Bullfrog Brewery
Sometimes, the universe throws talents, opportunities and people in your path that when put together, can accomplish some amazing things. That is exactly what is happening with Harrisburg roots ensemble, Shawan and the Wonton.
According to Shawan Rice, guitarist and vocalist, the foundation of the band was far from intentional. In fact, like some of the best things in life, Shawan and the Wonton kind of just … happened. As band that plays as such as cohesive unit, they have only been playing together for at most 3 years.
There is no huge story involving a singer or guitarist searching for musicians to make a band together. Instead, random happenstance and a string of mutual friends brought them together.
“All of the musicians I play with now were kind of serendipitously introduced to me, which I am very fortunate for. It kind of adds a level of magic and divinity like ‘Hey, the universe is into this as much as we are,’ “ Rice reflected fondly on the band’s makeup.
Luckily for Shawan and the Wonton’s members, they were all fans of the same type of music, which formed the inspirations for the music that they make today. Their inspirations are as eclectic as the members themselves, with notable acts such as Erykah Badu, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and Modest Mouse being listed as primary influences for the band. Altogether, Rice and the rest of the crew bring a solid foundation of soul, funk and even blues into the mix.
However, it seems like life itself is the biggest influence for the band, according to Rice. The band finds that life provides the best inspirations for their brand of music, and try their best to reflect that for their listeners. As the songwriter of the group, Rice feels that the real life aspect of the band’s music adds an element of soul to their sound.
“Life experience is always what really sparks that creative urge in my belly.”
Shawan and the Wonton are far from your typical collective of musicians. The passion for playing music together and the energy the give off to the listener provide the band with a definitive personality.
When asked to describe that personality, Rice affectionately describes the group not as a set of musicians, but a collective of “lovers and dreamers.”
“I feel like that’s why we all get along so well. They’re all so sweet and genuine and compassionate, which helps making something as passionate and intimate as music.”
And the type of music that Shawan and the Wonton creates is certainly like no other. With as many influences and inspirations as the group has, their type of music almost defies description, unless you are Shawan Rice.
“If you put all the pieces [such as roots, Blues, funk and soul] together, it really comes back to soul: music from the soul, for the soul.”
For those lucky enough to be in attendance at their upcoming show at the Bullfrog Brewery on Aug. 19, there will be plenty of music for the soul, which only excites Shawan even more. She said that fans at the show can expect “beautiful heart vibes, lots of love and dancing.”
“If you’re a fan of any of the genres that [influence us], you’ll probably vibe with us and have a good time.”
For Shawan and the Wonton, the future is in flux, but they are embracing it with just as much heart as they put in their music. The band is playing every weekend until Sept. 3, when Rice relocates to New Orleans. But fans need not fret, Shawan will be returning every few months to see friends and family and, of course, playing music with her band. In fact, Shawan and the Wonton expects to embark on a tour out west next summer, which is an adventure that the band is incredibly excited about.
“[In general], we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, exploring new beautiful places and playing our music in those beautiful places.”
Luckily for Williamsport, the Bullfrog Brewery is considered one of those beautiful places.
So if you want to dance, feel some love or hear some “beautiful heart vibes,” be sure to be at the Bullfrog Brewery 9 p.m. Aug. 18.