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WITF Music: Shawan and the Wonton

  • Joe Ulrich

 Joe Ulrich / WITF

Shawan and the Wonton at the WITF Performance Studio

Shawan and the Wonton perform in the WITF Studio. Photo by Joe Ulrich.

The most pressing question up front is probably, “What’s that band name all about?” Shawan Rice tells me it came about when she was hanging out with some musician friends.

“We were just driving around, crusing around town, listening to music, talking about what the band name should be, and [my friend] Dan Delaney is like, “What about Shawan and the Wontons?” And I was like, “Hold the phone, that’s it…You don’t even have to ask me twice.”

She ended up dropping the S to become Shawan and the Wonton.

“And it’s funny because I like to say you don’t really know what’s in a wonton but it’s really yummy and every time you get it you know what to expect but you really don’t know what to expect, so that’s kind of the way the band is.”

For her performance in our studio this day Shawan is accompanied by keyboardist Mike Dempsey. The two play through a few songs and give us just a taste of Shawan’s soulful voice.

“My mother had these two tapes that she played all the time,” Shawan recalls. “And I specifically remember driving around in her jeep and just listening to Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. And then there was an Eagles tape that she used to listen to all the time…And I loved Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse, and also found Bright Eyes right around the same time I started writing. And Jim Morrison and The Doors were one of my favorite bands growing up. I find him to be one of the most beautifully poetic geniuses ever. Shirley Temple I…absolutely loved all of her musicals.”

It’s not just musicians though that have influenced Shawan. There have been some other, more philosophical influences from unlikely places.

“Peter Pan was one of my favorite movies growing up. Mary Martin, that version. And at first when I found out that Peter Pan was played by a woman I was slightly distraught because I was like, ‘I want to be Wendy. I would like to just be taken to Neverland and just be a child forever and just have fun and hangout with Tigerlilly and Captain hook’.Then I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s so awesome and beautiful. I could be Peter Pan instead of being saved. I could save myself and save everybody else.’ And that was a cool, very influential piece of my childhood.”

Shawan and the Wonton are going to be playing at McClearys Public House in Marietta this Saturday.

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