Caren Armstrong’s Biography
Award winning Singer/Songwriter Caren Armstrong has been making “big buoyant music” since the tender age of ten years old. She was awarded top honors at the Emerging Songwriter Showcase at the Napa Valley Music Festival, and the 15th Annual Songwriting Competition at the Tucson Folk Festival, and has been a finalist at the Rocky Mt. Folk’s Fest and the Wildflower Music and Arts Festival. She is a member of Folk Alliance and has twice been a featured showcase artist at the FARWest Folk Alliance conference in 2004 and 2010. Caren was named as one of the top 10 artists of the decade by KALW radio in 2010. The petite redhead’s soaring vocals, sophisticated guitar chops and dynamic performances have endeared her to fans nationwide.
This dangerously honest, wickedly funny, and disarmingly vulnerable songwriter is “one of those rare musicians who plays and sings music from its bones on out. Caren’s work has a visceral and deeply satisfying impact, which is invariably garnished with great good humor.” Steve Coyle, The Waybacks Bay Area concert promoter Russ Jennings notes: “Caren has found a deeply original voice that the listener experiences as coming from within.”
Her playing style references folk, country, blues, jazz, traditional and popular music yet is distinctively her own. Running the emotional gamut from the touching “Origami” to the sassy “That Is Why You Like Me”, she entices her listeners to explore their own inner landscapes “with a striking efficiency and fusion of melody and lyrics.” Valerie Fasimpaur, Rambles Review. Written with a sharp yet compassionate pen, Armstrong’s songs transcend the self-revelatory and speak universally to the human condition in all of its humor and outrage. They are, as Grammy winner Steve Seskin put it: “Songs about real life performed with passion and precision.”
Born on a hot July afternoon in Dallas, Texas, raised on the sunny beaches of Southern California, Caren Armstrong taught herself to play guitar at age ten. She was teaching at a local music store by the time she was 13 years old, along side future country stars Vince Gill and Janis Oliver of The Sweethearts of The Rodeo. While still a teenager, she sang for a trio led by West Coast jazz stalwart, the late Gene Leis.
At home in virtually any musical milieu, Armstrong has opened for Iris Dement, Peter Rowan, The Beach Boys, Nanci Griffith, Lee Ann Womack and toured with Dan Hicks as one of the Hot Licks. She has shared the stage with the late Dave Carter and Tracy Grammar, Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines, Caroline Aiken, Shawn Mullins, Steve Seskin, Johnsmith, Ellis Paul, Laurie Lewis, Lorin Rowan, Cheryl Wheeler, Garnet Rogers, The Waybacks, Richard Shindell, Richard Berman, Don Conoscenti, Daryl Purpose, Cliff Eberhart, Erin McKeown, Kris Delmhorst, Alvin Youngblood Hart, David Maloney, Tom Prasada Rao, Stevie Coyle, Houston Jones, Ray Bonneville, Craig Carrothers, Evie Ladin and too many more to mention here.
These days Caren lives in Oakland, CA when she is home. In addition to her busy touring schedule, she has hosted monthly songwriter showcases at The Sweetwater (Mill Valley, CA) and at Strings (Oakland, CA) and at the Larkspur Café Theatre in Marin County. She is currently hosting her long running showcase, “Celebrating Songwriters” in Oakland. She is in high demand as a private guitar teacher, and has taught at the California Coast Music Camp. Caren has produced albums for artists such as the new acoustic string band Calavaras, art-folkie Lori B, as well as for Bay Area songwriters Rachel Garlin and Ilene Adar.
Armstrong is endorsed by Santa Cruz Guitars and by Elixir Strings. She has 4 recordings to her credit: Every New Day, Independent Girl, The Truth Stays True, and EVERYTHING, the latter three recorded and released by Armstrong’s label, Wildplum Recordings (Oakland CA).