Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards
LAURA CORTESE & THE DANCE CARDS (Boston, Mass.) is an all-female string group brought together by the love of traditional American music and the myriad of ways it can be expressed in a chamber-folk setting. With their feet solidly grounded in traditional fiddle styles, they reach for the sky with their original compositions, arrangements and interpretations of Old-Time, Bluegrass, Country, and Celtic music. This trio goes from hard-driving tunes to heart-breaking songs of Americana deftly and with the sensitivity of players beyond their years. The Dance Cards have toured the US and Europe, performing in every imaginable setting from farmers’ markets to music festivals, and house concerts to concert halls, while hosting workshops on fiddling, grooving, dancing and singing in between. All members of the Dance Cards went through rigorous training at the Berklee College of Music and bring not only a reverence to tradition but an innovative creativity to the music that they make.
LAURA CORTESE (Fiddle, Voice) has emerged as one of the most intriguing and versatile musicians in the bountiful New England post-folk scene. Originating from the rich fiddle community of San Francisco, Calif., Laura’s soulful voice and formidable fiddle groove combined with an uncanny ability to get at the heart of a song make her a sought-after performer. At home in any number of traditional styles, her highly-visible work as a supporting musician (on fiddle, vocals, and bass) includes appearances with Uncle Earl, Moira Smiley’s VOCO, Tao Seeger, Band of Horses, and as part of Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. An accomplished songwriter and composer, Laura recently released her third full length studio album ‘Into the Dark’ hailed by American Songwriter Magazine as a “fiddle-drenched Americana gem.”
A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Laura teaches fiddle and singing workshops and private lessons internationally at Newcastle University in England, and University of Limerick in Ireland and has taught fiddle, song, and dance at many summer fiddle camps including Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Fiddle School, Mark O’Connors Nashville Fiddle Camp, the Sierra Fiddle Camp, and Folkworks Youth Summer School in Newcastle, UK. She is co-founder of the Miles of Music Summer Camp, which fosters both traditional folk music and songwriting and composition.
MARIEL VANDERSTEEL (Fiddle/Voice) has established herself as a folk musician of multiple styles. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Berklee College of Music, Mariel studied hardanger fiddle (Norway’s traditional folk instrument) at the Høgskolen i Telemark School in Norway. She is a skilled Old-Time fiddler, whose recent solo album, “Hickory,” was warmly received by critics and audiences alike. Mariel had the honor to participate in the Savannah Music Festival’s Acoustic Music Seminar working with artists Zakir Hussein, Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall, Tony Trischka, and Chris Thile. In addition to working with Laura Cortese, she continues to perform nationally and internationally with Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers.
VALERIE THOMPSON (Cello/Voice) grew up as a classical cellist in a household filled with the music of Bach, The Beatles, The Chieftains and the blues. Entranced by dance music in her teens, she supplemented her formal cello studies by attending summer folk camps and studying Irish step-dance and American clogging. She graduated with honors from the Berklee College of Music and holds a Masters of Music in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory with honors and a concentration in Music-in-Education. A cellist versatile in many genres, she has shared the stage with the likes of 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 CW’s TV show Gossip Girl.) In addition to performing with Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, she has toured nationally and internationally with musical projects as diverse as Fluttr Effect (world music-infused progressive rock,) Long Time Courting (neo-traditional Irish/American quartet) and Goli (songdriven chamber duo).