Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards at One Touch Theatre, Eden Court Wednesday 13/5/15. A review.

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Laura Cortese and the Dance

Being late in from work necessitated a quick tea so beans were on the menu. The tea linked in nicely with the concert as Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards hail from Boston, Massachusetts. The early settlers of America from the UK learnt some recipes from the native Indians including the addition of molasses to beans to create the Boston baked bean.

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards continue this historical/contemporary theme in that they perform new material which is very much steeped in the music of the past and which also links the UK and the Americas. The group are a three piece. Laura plays fiddle and sings, Mariel Vandersteel also sings and plays fiddle, and Valerie Thompson plays the cello and also provides vocals.

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“Audience participation came early with the audience supplementing the group on the second song with feet and handclaps.”

This Eden Court performance was the second in their tour of Scotland, England and Wales so you have plenty of notice and no excuses not to get out there and see them.

The group performed without support giving us two sets of music with a break in between. Most of the material was from the ‘Into the dark’ album. As I’ve said the songs area skilful blend of old and modern styles mixed elegantly together with the instruments and voices of the girls.

The old styles include clogging fiddling tunes and a Shaker hymn, and the new includes the lyrics and the ways the instruments are used. Fiddles are played as ukuleles and the cello played in the style of a fiddle. Like Imke Henderson of local group Dorec-A-Belle Ms Thompson uses the cello to widen out the sound of the group in very interesting ways.

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“These girls know how to have fun, but underneath there is a serious appreciation and understanding of the music they perform. “
All sorts of music are in the mix – blues merges with clogging tunes, Townes van Zandt merges with Michael Nyman and Iris DeMent. The mood can be serious – the very David Lynch like Village Green, where the fiddles were used to tell part of the story, poignant – Skipping stone – bringing memories of skimming stones on Dores beach, or fun Manufactury – a song about Internet dating. The group also use the work of the Scots/Canadian poet John Beaton which again accentuated the links between the UK and North America.

The smallness of the One Touch Theatre allowed easy banter between the performers and the audience. Audience participation came early with the audience supplementing the group on the second song with feet and handclaps.

The girls also kept things going with discussions between songs on subjects ranging from developing an app for seeking out musical hotspots, the emotions involved in school dances, to the merits of local delicacies. At Glenbuchat on Tuesday the delicacies were Crabbies and crumpets. Rizza’s ice cream (nice) was the local subject. Girls you really have got to try rowies next time you are here.

For an encore the girls left the stage and moved into the audience where they serenaded us with a very soothing rendition of the Shaker hymn ‘Lay me low’.

These girls know how to have fun, but underneath there is a serious appreciation and understanding of the music they perform. Please get out and support them. At the break one of the ushers remarked that the group should be on Later with Jools Holland. I’d second that and hope Jools takes note.

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Rob Polson can’t play a note but loves listening to music, especially played live. Likes any sort of music but particularly interested in ambient, early and world music. Being involved with InvernessGigs gives me the opportunity to get out and about and listen to music, try some new beer and also to develop my writing skills.