Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kristin Andreassen with Laura Cortese & Tristan Clarridge

Kristin Andreassen

(Uncle Earl, Sometymes Why),

Laura Cortese (Halali) &

Tristan Clarridge (Crooked Still)

February 29, 2008


A Portland, Oregon native, Kristin’s journey from high school to her current abode in Boston has twisted across a decade and a continent. She has been an Amtrak sleeping car porter, a student of history (McGill University), a journalist, an economic development project officer on Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia), and she even spent two winters in the Canadian arctic (Arviat) as an Internet tech for a group of Inuit youth and elders making a local history web site.

Somewhere between Cape Breton Island and Hudson Bay, Kristin fell in love with folk music. Both places have strong square dance traditions and she found herself neglecting her day job for late-night dances and kitchen stepdance lessons. This eventually led her to West Virginia to study clogging. From there she "turned pro" and began touring with Maryland’s Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble.

Kristin threw herself into learning how to dance – Karate Kid style. She moved to an old farmhouse which past and present artist residents had named “The Ranch.” There she literally woodshedded on a dozen Footworks dance routines. She cleaned up a broken-down tour bus in the yard and made it her bedroom. And that winter she wrote her first song (“Like the Snow”), set to the accompaniment of a lone snow shovel.

Kristin joined Uncle Earl in December of 2003, and quickly became the "utility g'Earl" in the band -- playing guitar, second fiddle, and harmonica as well as singing and clogging. Kristin is a songwriter with a new album of her own (Kiss Me Hello, produced by Nickel Creek bassist Mark Schatz). Her songs are also featured in her band Sometymes Why, a vibey vocal trio she started with Ruth Ungar and Aoife O'Donovan. She now lives in Boston.


"LAURA CORTESE is an exciting young fiddler-singer. Her music is a captivating, frisky mix of traditional grace and modern sophistication."
- Scott Alarik, The Boston Globe

Singer, songwriter and fiddler, Laura Cortese lights up the stage with a radiating smile, dazzling musicianship and uninhibited delight. She deftly strums, plucks and chops her fiddle behind her raw and rootsy voice. Forgoing the guitar and bass of the traditional rock band, Cortese tours nationally with indie rock/folk drummer Neil Cleary (Annie Hayden, The Essex Green, Erin McKeown). On her latest release, even the lost creek (February 2006), she couples the groove and polish of urban music.

Cortese's Irish American grandmother first handed her a fiddle at the age of 4. Eight years later, she discovered folk music in what seems like an unlikely place, the bustling metropolis of her hometown San Francisco. "I found an exceptional community of singers, musicians and dancers at the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp," she says. "People from age 2 to 80 that just love making music together. It's strange to say, but I think that was the year I decided that music was IT."

In 1999, Cortese moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. Over the next few years she played in several bands including fiddle trio Halali formed with two childhood friends. "I had never really sung solo on stage before Halali. I realized songs are an amazing way to connect to an audience." In an apartment across the street from Berklee College, Cortese set out to record her debut album Hush in 2002 (re-released on Jar productions 2004). Hush showcases 12 tracks of pop-inspired arrangement that captures the raw sincerity of traditional Celtic music.

After college, Cortese traveled from coast to coast, from Nashville to Montreal, performing and partying with musicians at the forefront of the burgeoning folk scene. In June 2004, at one such late night party, Cortese found a rare chemistry with Zack Hickman (producer of even the lost creek) and Jesse Harper (guitar and harmony vocals). Cortese remembers, "We sat around singing songs after a show at Boston's Club Passim. We sang everything from jazz standard 'Summer Time' to Otis Redding's 'Sittin on the Dock of the Bay'. The three of us huddled as close as we could." That night hinted at the sound they would generate when Cortese's exquisite vocals met laid back swing, traditionally influenced folk song writing and a kicking rhythm section.

For even the lost creek, Cortese and her band set aside a week to rehearse and record together, cooking, eating and sleeping at the Signature Sounds studios in Pomfret, CT. "Zack and I wanted to capture the synergy that people develop when they live and work together. After recording for five 13 hour days straight, we recorded the final album cut, 'Night Train to Chelsea' in one take. Riding on that high, Zack, Jesse, Mark Thayer (engineer for even the lost creek) and I stayed up playing and singing until the sun came up."


A talented multi-instrumentalist, Tristan is the youngest person ever to win the Grand National Fiddle Championships, successfully achieving that title for three years consecutively. Beyond his extensive contest achievements, he is a brilliant acoustic-eclectic musician, spanning many genres of music and instruments with an individual style that is clearly unique and beautifully expressive. Mark O'Connor writes "It would be very difficult to detect Tristan's youth because of his mature phrasing and old time flair. He has a lot going on in that musical mind of his and will step out in life to make wonderful contributions through his music".

An inventive cellist, Tristan is one of the few in the country to adapt rhythmic Celtic and Bluegrass playing to the cello, and has worked closely with Natalie Haas and Rushad Eggleston. Tristan currently tours with Darol Anger's republic of strings, his sister Tashina, and the Bill Evans String Summit. He has toured with Cape Breton Fiddle phenomenon Natalie MacMaster, instructed at Mark O'Connor's String conference in San Diego for the past 4 years, and at Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School.

Tristan joined Crooked still in late 2007.

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