Take a Musical Adventure with Carolyn Cruso

(Thanks to Carolyn for this guest post! You can read more about all our performers at the Festival website, www.nwfolklife.org/festival.)

Susan Slapin

Photo by Susan Slapin

From performing in Europe amongst musicians, jugglers, comedians, one-man bands, mimes, and contortionists, to traveling the circus like Renaissance Fair circuit, to recording and co-producing with Billy Oskay (founding member of the Windham Hill recording and touring ensemble Nightnoise and producer of many Windham Hill, Narada and Green Linnet recording projects), Carolyn Cruso has led a musically adventurous life. She has traveled the world moving audiences with her expressive voice, flute, guitar and hammered dulcimer talents.

This multi-instrumentalist moves gracefully between the various instruments she plays, taking you on a magical journey of storytelling, instrumental music and lyrical song. “With her sensational talent, variety of musical styles and instruments, and fascinating anecdotes, she gave the audience an unforgettable evening of wonderful music,” says Jerene Weitman, from the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY.  Her show is a combination of instrumental and singer/songwriter pieces, drawing material from most  of her eight albums including her most recent singer/songwriter release “Have You Ever,” which features fourteen songs spanning folk, pop, jazz and alt. country styles. Carolyn tours both regionally and nationally.  She’s shared stages with and opened for a variety of artists such as Peter Mayer, Tom May, Pierce Pettis, Jim Page, and Randal Bays.

Photo by Susan Slapin

A master of the hammered dulcimer, Carolyn is an innovator.  She pushes the boundaries of the traditional approach while honoring the original spirit. Her style is improvisational, lyrical and percussive.  She uses effects like bending notes and playing two notes with one hammer. She incorporates the independent hand technique of percussionists as well. “Through her hands the instrument became a living organism of beauty” says Charlie Vervalin of the Black Rose Acoustic Society.  Her lyrics, spanning from poetic to narrative, explore love, loss and regeneration.  She masterfully lays these over an intricate finger picking guitar style and open tunings, which allow her to find the rich voicing in the chords she hears. The Eugene weekly calls her music, “Intricate musical poetry…fine guitar work.”  Cruso’s show like her music is timeless and transportive in nature.  At present she is working on a Retrospective recording of the early years (1989-1995).

See Carolyn Cruso at the Northwest Folklife Festival on Sunday, May 26 at the Folklife Cafe stage at 12:55. 


“Boundless highlights both Carolyn’s fluid playing style and the broad knowledge of Celtic music she brings to her compositions.  A gorgeous listen throughout!”
~Sing Out! Magazine

 “For the adventurous listener…Cruso’s voice has the ability to go from folk to jazz to late night and sultry blues without advertising the change…a lot more going on here than folk…a very fluid album”
~Frank Gutch, Folk Acoustic Music Exchange