Celtic Junction Arts Center

Weaving the traditions of Dance, Music, Art & Language

836 Prior Avenue
St. Paul, MN, 55104

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, Nov 9

Doors 6:30, music starts at 7pm. Advance tickets $17, $20 at the door.BUY TICKETS NOW

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. 

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.


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. 

Valerie Thompson and 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.