Welding the propulsive grace of fiddle styles to disarmingly open-hearted original pop songs, Laura Cortese has emerged among the most intriguing and versatile, musicians in the bountiful New England post-folk scene. At home in any number of traditional styles, her highly-visible work as a supporting musician (on fiddle, vocals, and bass) includes appearances with Jocie Adams (Low Anthem), Uncle Earl, Tao Seeger, Band of Horses, and - as part of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden - Patterson Hood and Michael Franti. The past two years have found Cortese in creative overdrive, balancing sideman duties, solo tours, and recording sessions with an increased devotion to her own music: a kaleidoscopic hybrid that is enriched by roots music undertones and yet remains defiantly contemporary. In 2010 Cortese released an EP trilogy including her all female Acoustic Project.
Laura Cortese - "I Am The House"
Ida Jo began setting herself apart long ago. A violinist since the age of 7, her childhood was filled with countless performances on three continents and awards such as the prestigious Emerson Scholarship to Interlochen Arts Camp. Ida Jo graduated college with a degree in violin performance and has since released four full-length records and maintains a consistent touring schedule in support of them. Also an avid yogini, Ida Jo continues to use her music to promote wellness. She has been published in the Huffington Post and has presented at TEDx. She was named 2013 WAMI Female Vocalist of the Year.
Ida Jo was born and raised in fertile music port of Duluth, MN. At age 6, she began begging her mother for violin lessons. Eventually giving in, Ida Jo began classical violin using the Suzuki Method. Besides her classical study she performed and placed in countless Texas style fiddle contests and spent her summers performing traditional Finnish folk music all across the globe.
Her music, led as always by her “innovative violin work and her soulful vocals” (AV Club), is expressive and groove-oriented, bearing the marks of the southern rock and folk that influenced her. (Think of artists like Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and The Band.) “Her voice has the vibrancy of Adele with the soul of Joss Stone. It has the color of history.” (Relate Magazine) Also present are the subtlety and grace of her background in classical violin. Add to that a healthy amount of individuality and stubborn indie spirit and you begin to get an idea of her sound. “Ida Jo's voice is refined enough to conjour reflection and edgy enough to stir agitation...” (Isthmus Daily Page)
On violin, Ida Jo employs a seldom heard technique that is the combination of a folk fiddle style called "chopping" and her extensive classical training. She plays the rhythm, the harmony and sometimes even the melody at the same time. What it ends up sounding like is beyond explanation and without comparison, somewhere between an acoustic guitar and an orchestra. She is one of only a handful of violinists in the world to play in the style. It has been praised as "masterful and unexpected" (Emmie Music Magazine), "inventive yet accessible," (AV Club - Madison) and "avoiding rootsy fiddle or orchestral indie clichés" (The Isthmus).