Born into a large family where music was a first language and way of life, Carol Skarstad was raised on Gershwin, Bach, The Fireside Book of American Songs, Cole Porter, Edvard Grieg, Broadway show tunes, ragtime, Norwegian folk tunes, and Art Tatum, all with her dad at the grand piano. Her parents listened to Tom Lehrer, The Weavers, everything jazz, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and music of the civil rights era. Her older brothers got her going on all the great rock and folk albums of the ’60s — Joan Baez, Dylan, Blind Faith and Cream, the Beatles, the Stones, Joni Mitchell, and of course all the rest. Like many of those who came of age during those times, Carol saw the powerful role music played in changing their world.
During the ’70s Carol worked in record stores, specializing in classical music and jazz, and learning about artists, bands, recordings, and record labels from every genre. Her first radio DJ experience came at Colorado’s KFML, hosting an opera show.
Carol says that roping unsuspecting and otherwise perfectly innocent people into wildly spirited over-the-top musical performance projects has been a way of life. She says she has “had tons of fun” directing numerous community choirs and vocal ensembles, including Will Sing For Change, In Accord Choir, Eugene Peace Choir, Church of the Naked Truth at the Oregon Country Fair, neighborhood groups, scout troops, and many others. Since 2007, she has hosted the monthly Appalachian old-time session at Tsunami Books, and hosts regular monthly song circles and frequent house concerts.
A classically trained cellist, Carol played in orchestras and chamber ensembles before “stumbling down into that never-ending rabbit hole of old-time music.” Songs and tunes about whiskey or possums are her particular speciality. She plays in several old-time string bands and dance bands around town, including Slippery Slope String Band, a band that plays for contra and square dances. She is the Dance Coordinator for Eugene Folklore Society, and is on the board of directors of Helios Resource Network.
Carol first came to KRVM in 2005 as a host for both Acoustic Junction and Music That Matters. Currently, she is the alternating co-host of Acoustic Junction and a regular fill-in host for Miles of Bluegrass and Celtic Quilt.