by Kirby Lindsay, posted 22 May 2013
On Thursday, May 30th, starting at 8p, Laura Cortese will perform original music from her new album ‘Into The Dark’ at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center. The fiddle-drenched concert of Americana music will also feature the musical talents of Eli West and Fish & Bird, with members of those bands likely to join Cortese and her bandmates – Mariel Vandersteel on fiddle and hardanger fiddle, and Valerie Thompson on cello – to contribute bass percussion and vocals.
On Saturday, June 1st, at 10:15a, Cortese will return to Fremont to teach the ‘Fiddle & Sing!’ workshop at Dusty Strings. Both events offer unique opportunities for music lovers to hear and learn from Cortese in person. Currently on a cross-country tour, Cortese, Vandersteel and Thompson will play in Port Townsend in between the Abbey show and the Dusty Strings class. When she finishes demonstrating fiddle techniques, they will all hope in the van nicknamed ‘Blue Steel’ to reach Bellingham, and more anxiously waiting fans.
This is the life of the album tour. Cortese left her home in Boston when the album was released on April 23rd, and she will travel all the way back to her birth state (California) before arriving in the Pacific Northwest.
She admitted, while in Chicago, that she will be happy to get back to her home. “We have an incredible community in Boston,” Cortese said, “and I’m always so excited to see those players, and get more exposure.” After all, for Cortese, music is about learning and developing her skills – whether touring or at home, “the exploration doesn’t stop,” she said.
“It’s very creative to be in the studio, to make this music,” Cortese explained, “but when you play,” in a concert setting, “you complete a circuit of experience, with the audience.” She sees the music as a journey, when she plays or when she listens to others. “A portion is tuning in and listening to the performer,” she explained about her experience from the audience, “but it also is about tuning in to what responds in me.”
“We hope to meet other musicians and people where we go,” she said. “I like to say hi to people after the show,” Cortese acknowledged. People approach her after shows to tell her thank you for a certain song or to let her know about a lyric that touched them. She finds such responses gratifying as well as informative and validation for her work, so far.
“Last year we did a similar across-the-country tour,” she explained, “different venues, same cities.” Last year she played a club on Phinney Ridge, but she’s excited to try out the Abbey. “I love that neighborhood,” she exclaimed.
On this tour, like last year, Cortese will play in both ‘living room’ set-ups and concert hall venues. The Abbey provides something of a hybrid, which might be ideal for Cortese. “My favorite thing is to play in the more conventional hall,” she admitted, “and then get the whole room to break the rules of that setting.” She likes to get audiences up and dancing, or simply moving, to the music.
Then Back To Fremont
She’s also excited about her two-hour workshop at Dusty Strings, and sharing some of what she’s learned with other fiddle players. Cortese started playing violin, having moved to Boston when she went to study violin at the Berklee College of Music. She explained that a fiddle isn’t very different from a violin. “In folk music, it’s called a fiddle,” she said, “in classical music, a violin.”
‘Into The Dark’ showcases her instrumental prowess, her thoughtful songwriting but also the full, rich sound she creates through careful vocals and accompaniment. She also blends folk traditions with pop and modern sounds. In The Denver Post, John Wenzel wrote about Cortese, “Her open-armed approach to her art reveals a determination to spread the word about folk music and dance without watering down their distinctiveness.”
“We all grew up playing traditional folk music,” Cortese explained about herself and her band mates, “frequently if there is a strong fiddle community, you learn through listening.” For the June 1st workshop, she wants to share, “the full palate of sounds,” of the fiddle, as she described it. Cortese can help with simple bow techniques, grooves and chords on fiddles, violas and cellos. Attendees can learn how Cortese achieved the lush string arrangements used to such strong effect on her new album.
The workshop will cost $35 per participant. To find out about it, and how to participate, visit the Dusty Strings website or contact the school at 206/634-1662.
For tickets to the concert at the Fremont Abbey, go to Brown Paper Tickets today. Tickets are $8 in advance/$10 at the door (if still available,) although front row seats do cost more. Doors open at 7p, with the show starting at 8p.
The album tour gives Cortese, along with band mates Thompson and Vandersteel, a chance to meet and share with those in our community who go out to meet them. This is a chance to experience music – live – rarely available here, except by album tour. Don’t miss out!
- Fremont Abbey Grows Into Its 7th Year
- by Kirby Lindsay, December 26, 2012
- Get Social. Get Jammin’. At Dusty Strings
- by Kirby Lindsay, July 18, 2011
©2013 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.