Don Armstrong grew up in upstate New York and began hanging out at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs as a young teen. Under the watchful eye of Lena Spencer, he learned through the graces of the performers passing through: Paul Clayton, Dave Van Ronk, Rev. Gary Davis, Bob Dylan, Hedy West, John Herald, Gil Robbins, Ian & Sylvia, Utah Phillips...the list is endless.
In 1968 Don began performing with Tom Mitchell and together they toured the coffeehouses, clubs & concert stages of New York & New England. In 1971 they began songwriting in earnest, and Tom's "Sam O'Gan" as well as Don's "White Mountains Good Bye" (which was later recorded by Bill Staines) are both stand-outs from that period. Audiences & critics loved them and the music they made together.
And it was Tom Mitchell who introduced Don to the love of his life, Victoria Garvey, in 1970. Don & Victoria were married in 1972, and began playing music together. They stopped touring extensively when their two children, Joaquin & Celeste were old enough to go to school. In their 42 years together, they recorded ten albums (3 were children's albums) all together, their latest recording "Get Me Down The Road" was released in April, 2015. Sad to say, Victoria passed away May 5, 2014.
Memorials were held for Victoria both in their adopted home of Tucson, Arizona, and at Caffe Lena, and tributes were paid by long time musician friends Tom Mitchell, Tony Markellis, Ed Lowman, Jane Voss & Hoyle Osborne, Frank Wakefield, Kevin Maul, Michael J. & Peter Dalton Ronstadt, Andy Cohen, Greg Morton & Nick Coventry, Huxtable Christensen & Hood, John Winn, Bob White, Michael Jerling, Gaylan Taylor, Mark Brooks, Bob Warren & Joy MacKenzie, Frank Orsini, The Trophy Husbands, Geneva Switzerland and Joe & Jesse Bruchac.
At Victoria's Memorial at Caffe Lena in September, 2014, Don was once again reunited with his long time pal, Tom Mitchell. Since then, they have performed a few reunion concerts before sell-out crowds at Caffe Lena and at Monterey Court in Tucson, AZ.
With nigh on to fifty years of songs - both his & Victoria's - and 6 & 12 string guitars and 5 string banjo in hand, Don has hit the road once again, singing his songs of the Southwest and Old Mexico, tunes from the '20's & '30's and his beautifully original songs that have been hailed worldwide. His song "White Mountains Good Bye" was recorded by Bill Staines, while "Santuario" has been recorded by Woods Tea Company, both on CD & video, and "Day After The Day Of The Dead" was covered by cowboy singer and Western Music Association Performer Of The Year (2014) Jim Jones.
Don has been described as a "Tucson Legend" and a "Folk Treasure." The Arizona Daily Star recently referred to him as a "consummate songwriter." Don is now a recording artist for The Ronstadt Record Company, and his long awaited solo cd "Mother, Don't Give Up On Me Now," is has an April 11, 2020 release date.
In 2017, Don put together his group, The Whiskeypalians (thank you, Susan Holden for the name!), with Nick Coventry on fiddle, Gary Mackender on accordion, Slim Rost on bass, and special guests like Peter McLaughlin on guitar, Petie Ronstadt on banjo and Alex Flores on saxophone they have delighted audiences in clubs, concerts & folk festivals around Arizona.
.In 2019, The Whiskeyettes (Rebekah Rolland & Sabra Faulk) became part of the Whiskeypalian family. Due to Rebekah's busy schedule, Liz Cerepanya of Big Grin stepped in, and often all three can be heard performing live and on the new cd.
L to r: Sabra Faulk, Rebekah Rolland, Matt Rolland, Don, Slim Rost & Gary Mackender.
And in 2018, Don has gotten together with his good friend, Earl Edmonson to perform what began as a musical tribute to Earl's uncle, Travis Edmonson, of Bud & Travis fame, to sing many of the songs that inspired both Don & Earl in the early years, including many of the first Latin American songs that Don & Victoria used to perform. They have decided to take that even farther and incorporate them with many of the songs both have collected and Don has written over the years. The first results have been playing to packed houses and praise offered by none other than The Kingston Trio, The Limelighters and the New Christy Minstrels, among others.
Don's first solo album, "Mother Don't Give Up On Me Now," was released by the Ronstadt Record Company in May, 2020. Produced by Peter Dalton Ronstadt, it features Tucson musician greats Nick Coventry, Gary Mackender, Michael Gilbert Ronstadt, Alvin Blaine, Earl Edmonson, Michael Markowitz, Sam Eagon, Bekah Rolland, Sabra Falk, Liz Cerepanya & Bryan Matyjasik. Although the pandemic has slowed things to a snail's pace, Don is scoping out his next project and looks forward to hitting the road once again, much to the delight of his friends & fans nationwide.