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"Ambition often follows talent,

and Laura Cortese has an


embarrassment of both. Her
open-armed approach to her art
reveals a determination to spread
the word about folk music and
dance without watering down
their distinctiveness."
- John Wenzel, The Denver Post
Laura Cortese has a vision for her band's sound: bold and elegant, schooled in the lyrical rituals of folk music and backed
by grooves that alternately inspire Cajun two-stepping and rock-n-roll hip swagger. It 's appropriate then that the trio,
featuring Cortese, call themselves Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards. Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards. Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards. Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards.
Since appearing on Cortese's most recent album, Into the Dark (2013), Valerie Thompson (cello/vox) and Mariel
Vandersteel (fiddle/hardingfele/vox) have paired their sophisticated string arrangements and rich vocal harmonies to
Cortese's poignant and powerful singing. Seeing the trio on stage, you get the sense that they might snap some fiddle strings
or punch a hole in the bass drum. This is post-folk that seriously rocks.
On Into the Dark, Cortese doesn't shy away from heavy subjects or rely solely on her own experiences. On "Brown
Wrinkled Dress," she writes from the point of view of a woman who discovers her husband's infidelity; on "Village Green"
she sings in the voice of a servant who yearns for something more. Both songs echo traditional themes - "Brown Wrinkled
Dress" is a murder ballad in the most classic sense - but others have an undeniably modern cadence. You can hear pop in
Cortese's deftly-written hooks and rock 'n' roll in the syncopated pulse that propels even her gentlest melodies. Her cover of
Laura Veirs's "Life is Good Blues" perhaps captures this spirit best: when Cortese sings, "Life is good when the band is
smokin' hot," it 's easy to believe her.
This trio is in line with Cortese's collaborative style; her last several projects have featured the finest of the Boston folk-pop
scene. 2010 saw the release of three EPs: Two Amps, One Microphone, a duet with guitarist and singer Jefferson Hamer;
Simple Heart, a collaboration with five other female vocalists; and Acoustic Project, which provided the seed for the
fiddle-based arrangements of Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards. Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards. Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards. Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards.
Cortese Cortese Cortese Cortese grew up in San Francisco and moved to Boston to study violin at Berklee College of Music. She has since
immersed herself in the city's vibrant indie music scene and enjoyed a busy sideman career, which has included
appearances with Band of Horses at Carnegie Hall, Pete Seeger at Newport Folk Festival, and Patterson Hood and
Michael Franti for Seeger's ninetieth birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. She performs frequently with Jocie
Adams formerly of The Low Anthem and can be heard with Adams's new band, Arc Iris. Cortese also performs
frequently with Rose Cousins, and plays on her 2012 release "We have Made a Spark"
Valerie Thompson Valerie Thompson Valerie Thompson Valerie Thompson and Mariel Vandersteel Mariel Vandersteel Mariel Vandersteel Mariel Vandersteel bring their own multi-genered credentials to the mix. Thompson has
shared the stage with acclaimed jazz pianist Fred Hersch, indie-rock icon Amanda Palmer, multimedia artist Christopher
Janney, and CMH Records' Vitamin String Quartet (including a guest appearance on Gossip Girl.) Vandersteel came of age
musically nurtured by the Bay Area's rich revivalist traditional music scene. She attended Berklee College of Music and
studied hardingfele in Norway, that country's national instrument. In 2009 she released a solo album, Hickory. She was
invited as part of a select group of 20 young musicians to Savannah Music Festival's Acoustic Music Seminar to study with
Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussein and Mike Marshall.
True to their adventurous spirit and wide-ranging influences, the group was recently selected from a pool of 400 bands to
tour with the US State Department's American Music Abroad program. From January 22 through March 3, 2014, they set
off to India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Bangladesh to perform and teach as artist ambassadors. Such a mission was
perfect for this trio, whose music communicates the depth and soul of American roots music, using their own uniquely
modern voices.
Laura Cortese: About Laura http://www.lauracortese.net/about
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Laura Cortese: About Laura http://www.lauracortese.net/about
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