Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards

Cambridge, MA

Laura Cortese is an instigator of creativity and a builder of community wherever she goes. She wears many hats: fiddler, singer, songwriter multi-instrumentalist and bandleader. After wending her way from California to Boston, founding a music camp and a festival, and playing and singing with scores of artists, she assembled the Dance Cards: a quartet of singing string players. The group’s original music is based in the lyrical rituals of folk while exploring new territories of rhythm and sonics. At first glance, the band may resemble a string quartet – there are no guitars to be found. But from the moment Cortese kicks off the title track of her album, “CALIFORNIA CALLING,” with angular, percussive strumming and a powerfully sultry vocal, it’s clear that this is something else. This is post-folk that seriously rocks.

The Dance Cards’ sound moves seamlessly from gauzy, ethereal vocal harmonies (“The Low Hum”) to rowdy indie-rock percussion (“Stockholm”) to propulsive fiddle melodies directly from Appalachia or Scotland (“Swing & Turn”). Their lyrics deftly explore heartbreak, independence and the restless search for a home in the world. It’s pop music at heart, born from the roots tradition and traveling the roads of 70s California, but now planted firmly in the post-genre modern day. fRoots Magazine described the album as “an absolute winner … skilled, heartfelt writing, gorgeous performances and a sense of vision.”

Before forming the Dance Cards, Laura Cortese’s career included stints as an instrumentalist with Band of Horses, Pete Seeger, Rose Cousins, Jocie Adams (of the Low Anthem) and Uncle Earl. The collective credits among the Dance Cards exist on a broad continuum from Darol Anger to Amanda Palmer, from the symphony to prog rock, and even into protest music like Pete Seeger and Michael Franti. The band has leaned toward protest music themselves: they assembled a group of 65+ women and femmes of all ages, races, and nationalities for their “Pace Myself” music video, which both exposes and defies the ways in which the world tries to keep women down. They have also twice served as U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors, traveling to India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Estonia, Montenegro and Greece to exchange musical traditions and foster cultural understanding.

Music Sampler

Artist Performances

Friday August 2nd from 1:30 PM - 1:55 PM at Mile of Music Bus
Friday August 2nd from 3:35 PM - 4:25 PM at Red Lion Hotel Paper Valley Ballroom - MAIN STAGE
Saturday August 3rd from 11:45 AM - 12:35 PM at Stone Arch Brewpub Tap Room
Saturday August 3rd from 9:05 PM - 9:55 PM at Lawrence Chapel - MAIN STAGE
Sunday August 4th from 3:55 PM - 4:45 PM at OuterEdge - MAIN STAGE