Carolyn Cruso
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Carolyn Cruso

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Sing Out Magazine"

“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

"Dusty Strings"

“Charming, delightful, foot-tapping grooves…Cruso hits the mark with beautifully lyrical pieces… technical wizardry and compositional prowess shine throughout.”
- ~Christy Moores, The Quarter Note

"Eureka Times Standard"

“A musical tour-de-force, fusing an eclectic mélange of folk, jazz and Celtic elements…a poetic virtuoso” - ~Carla Baku, Times Standard, Eureka, CA

"Dirty Linen"

“She’s a splendid guitarist and possesses a clear and expressive voice”

- ~Dirty Linen Magazine

"San Francisco Bay Guardian"

“Cruso brings multi-instrumental skills and an eloquent set of pipes to the table”

- ~Cheryl Eddy, San Francisco Bay Guardian


“Elegant melodies…painting vivid pictures with a sensual palette of poetic images…hypnotic and alluring.”

- ~Richard Middleton, Victory Review



“Boundless” – 2005 (Blue Heron Music), solo hammered dulcimer, original.
Recorded at Big Red Studio, in Corbett, OR.

“As Clear a Hue” – 2000 (Blue Heron Music), songwriter, original.
Recorded at the David Lange Studio in Edgewood, WA

“Transformation” – 1998 (Blue Heron Music), instrumental, original.
Recorded at the Billy Oskay Studio in Portland, OR

“Great Blue” – 1995 with Robert Almblade (Blue Heron Music), instrumental, original. Recorded at the Billy Oskay Studio in Portland, OR

“Ballincheol” - 1993 with Robert Almblade (Blue Heron Music)
Instrumental, traditional (Irish, Scottish, French, Breton, Swedish).
Recorded at the Billy Oskay Studio in Portland, OR

“The Fifth Element” – 1991 with Robert Almblade (Blue Heron Music)
Instrumental, original. Recorded at Nightnoise Studio in Portland, OR

“Tone Poems” – 1989 with Robert Almblade (Himmelreich Music)
Instrumental original. Recorded at Tonstudio Tucan, Kornwestheim, Germany



It’s a gypsy life of adventure, chance encounters and the solace of the landscape that inspire her. Her music not only reflects this in its timeless and transportive nature, but her life represents it. “Elegant melodies…painting vivid pictures with a sensual palette of poetic images…hypnotic and alluring,” says Richard Middleton of Victory Review. From street performing to Renaissance Fairs to folk festivals, to coffeehouses, to theaters, Carolyn Cruso has traveled the world moving audiences with her expressive voice, flute, guitar and hammered dulcimer playing.

Carolyn’s musical adventures began as a recent college graduate when she moved from New Hampshire to Seattle in 1985. The Seattle folk scene was already vibrant and the grunge scene just starting to bubble. The energy was contagious and artists from all over the U.S., including Carolyn were drawn there. The smells and sounds of Pike Place Market, and the interaction with everyday people and other musicians made street performing an alluring experience. It was her first week in Seattle playing Pike Place Market when Carolyn met Robert Almblade, whom she’d perform and write with for the next decade. On a whim, they moved to Orcas Island, a decision that would shape the rest of her musical life.

Robert and Carolyn moved on to the land of master dulcimer and harp maker David Will. Carolyn had first heard the sound of the dulcimer at 17 years old at the Hudson River Revival festival. So moved by the enchanting sound, she literally ran towards it and saw the fantastic instrument it was coming from. She never forgot the sound or the image. Now she was presented with the opportunity to explore that sweet sound. Robert and Carolyn bought a dulcimer and with their natural musical talents, easily taught themselves to play. They worked as a great team, each coming at the dulcimer from different angles: Carolyn with a flute background and Robert with a guitar and mandolin background. They were able to teach each other new techniques and share their individual discoveries, accelerating the learning process. “Without being exposed to any other players or the tradition, Robert and I just found our own way,” says Carolyn. This was a blessing as it allowed her to develop her own style; a style that reflects her life; innovative and adventurous.

The duo decided to take their show on the road to Europe where the busking scene was thriving. Amongst other musicians, jugglers, comedians, one- man bands, mimes, and contortionists, they were able to carve out a lucrative career. They performed and sold original music in the streets of Germany, Holland, Demark and Switzerland. It was during this time, that Carolyn honed her dulcimer skills and developed her truly unique style. She was exposed to traditional Celtic sounds and was able to incorporate them into the sound that became her own. As a result Carolyn pushes the boundaries of the traditional approach while still honoring the original spirit. Her style is improvisational, lyrical and percussive. She uses effects like bending notes and playing two notes with one hammer, as well as an independent hand technique. “Through her hands the instrument becomes a living organism of beauty…this music must be what heaven sounds like,” says Charlie Vervalin of the Black Rose Acoustic Society.

Two albums and three years later, with highly developed dulcimer skills, Carolyn and Robert returned to the U.S. Not ready to give up the wandering lifestyle, they began performing at Renaissance Fairs becoming part of the circus like family. They traveled the circuit playing dulcimer, flute, guitar and cittern. On the road for five months at a time they live a migratory life for seven years until Robert passed away.

After Robert’s death in 1997, Carolyn began more seriously to explore singing and songwriting; something she’d been doing since she her teens. Her songwriting ranges from poetic to narrative. Her lyrics, exploring love, loss and regeneration convey a compelling sense of longing. 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.” In 2001, she released her first singer/songwriter album (her seventh album) “As Clear a Hue.”

And now 17 years later, her life has come full circle. She is again living on Orcas Island with her life partner David Will, the man who made her first hammered dulcimer. Although she has made this her permanent residence, she is still a gypsy at heart. Carolyn is on the road touring the U.S. at least 3 times a year playing solo or sharing the stage with a variety of artists such as Susan Osborn, Peter Mayer, Marjorie Richards, Orville Johnson, Jim Page, Artis the Spoonman, Holly Figueroa, Libby Kirkpatrick, Randal Bays, Jim Craig, Stanley Greenthal, Tom May, The Granary Girls,