The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined

5+5: Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards

Mar 6, 2018

Artist: Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards
Hometown: Boston, MA (pining for San Francisco)
Latest Album: California Calling
Rejected Band Names: The LC Sass Factory, LC & the Bangs, LC & the gonnabegreats

What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?

Not surprisingly, this moment took place when I was playing for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday at Madison Square Garden. I was playing on a song called “Dear Mr. President” sung by Michael Franti and Patterson Hood. As you can imagine, there was an immense crew making sure the entire night went off without a hitch. They came to get me in my dressing room. I felt good and relaxed. They walked me down the long maze of hallways to wait for my entrance on the stairs. When they said, “go,” I started to walk up the stairs and peed the tiniest bit in my own pants. Apparently, I was more nervous than I thought.

What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?

It wasn’t so much about realizing that I wanted to be a musician, as much as it was about learning that being a musician was possible. I was a 16-year-old fiddler in the front row of fiddle class, when I saw a female fiddler in a position of power for the first time. That was Catriona Macdonald, Shetland fiddler. The moment of realizing that a life in music was possible for a woman was huge for me. We recently made a music video showcasing about 65 other female, female-identifying, and femme musicians. I hope this video gives many young women the encouragement to follow their dreams.

If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?

In the words of Fleetwood Mac, “You can go your own way. Go your own waaaaay.”

Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?

Water is big for me. Looking out over it, putting my feet in it, or submerging myself in it. If someone dares me to jump in, I rarely resist. Water brings me back to center and manages to weasel its way into more than half of the songs on California Calling.

How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?

I haven’t been giving much thought to this. Should I be? (Classic self-doubt sets in.) But seriously, I’ve been giving much more thought to not imposing my cis-gendered hetero privilege on my audience. I want to connect with people on an emotional level. I want to make space for other truths to be heard.


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