Folk Roots Radio Episode 374: Laura Cortese & More New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 374: Laura Cortese & More New Releases

Laura Cortese, originally from the San Francisco area of California and now part of the great folk and roots scene in Boston, joins us on Episode 374 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about her music and great new album with her all girl band, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, “California Calling”. We also check out new music from The Wailin’ Jennys, Jabbour, Dom Flemons, Banjo Nickaru & Western Scooches, Andrew Collins Trio, Chris LaVancher, John Muirhead and Elly Wininger. Check out the full playlist below.


Laura Cortese gave up a life in California to attend the famed Berklee College of Music, before deciding to stay in Boston and immerse herself in the city’s vibrant roots scene as a side player. Returning to front her own band, Laura came together with the Dance Cards as an all girl band, featuring four string players – two fiddles (Laura Cortese and Jenna Moynihan), with Valerie Thompson on cello and Natalie Bohrn from Manitoba on standup bass. All of the band members share vocals.

Their debut album as a four piece, “California Calling”, features 11 songs, most written by Laura Cortese but with arrangements that reflect the full band’s influences and exploring rhythms and sonic textures that take their music way beyond what you’d typically expect from a folk roots stringband.

An inspirational songwriter, and engaging interview, Laura Cortese sat down with Folk Roots Radio at the Folk Music Canada export showcase Folk North to chat about her music and high energy live show. For more information about Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, visit Photo: Natalie Champa-Jennings.

Show Notes

Notes about some of the new music on our radar that made it into Episode 374 of Folk Roots Radio.

Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse have now been making music together for 15 years as The Wailin’ Jennys – a musical partnership that has lead to three award-winning studio albums alongside a magical live recording – the wonderful “Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House”. The latest album “Fifteen” features their versions of songs written by some of their favourite songwriters including Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris, Warren Zevon, Patti Griffin and Dolly Parton. Produced by The Wailin’ Jennys and engineered by Joby Baker, the album also features additional musicians Richard Moody (Ruth’s brother), Sam Howard, Adrian Dolan and Adam Dobrev. More from that album on a future episode.

Quebec roots band Jabbour have just released their new single, “Honey”. Honey was written by Jabbour’s Bill Collier, and arranged by the band. Performing on the single are Bill Collier (ukulele, percussion, banjo, lead vocals), Guillaume Jabbour (guitar, backing vocals), Carl Rufh (bass, backing vocals) and David Greely (fiddle). The new single was recorded at Studio Riverfield (Howick, QC) by John McColgan, with mixing by John McColgan, Paul Scriver (Square Peg Studios, Montreal, QC) and mastering by Harris Newman at Greymarket (Montreal, QC). Jabbour’s new album, the follow up to 2016’s “Round the Clock”, is due later this year. Check out our interview with Jabbour HERE. Find Jabbour online at

Dom Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, has released a great new album, “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys”, on Smithsonian Folkways. The songs and poems featured on the album take the listener on an journey of discovery from the trails to the rails of the Old West and the part played by thousands of African American pioneers who helped build the United States of America. On this episode we play his version of trad. classic “Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad”.

Banjo Nickaru & Western Scooches play an eclectic mix of country, bluegrass, western swing, rockabilly, blues, traditional jazz, dixieland, old-time music, folk, roots music & Americana. They’ve have just released their second album, “Get Us Out Of Fearland”, the follow up to their debut, “Very Next Thing”. Featuring Nick Russo on guitar / banjo / resonator, Betina Hershey on vocals / guitar and David Pleasant on percussion, Get Us Out of Fearland features eight original songs by Betina Hershey, and one traditional stomp, a lively bluegrass rendition of “A Hundred Miles,” the rollicking fiddle-fueled train tune from the 1800s. Inspired by the current social climate, the title track, plus “Dandelion” and “Needed Now” call us to raise our voices to effect change.

Andrew Collins has completed his two album set that he discussed with us in our recent interview at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference. On this episode we play the beautiful “Famous Last Words” from his soon to be released Andrew Collins Trio instrumental album “Groove”, the companion piece to a vocal album featuring versions of other people’s songs alongside an original or two given a makeover – entitled “Tongue”. Tongue and Groove. Get it? You can find our recent interview with Andrew on the website HERE. We’re not sure when the new double collection will be released. Stay tuned for more details.

Young London ON singer-songwriter John Muirhead has a new E.P. available, “Foundational”. On this episode we play the lead off track “Passenger’s Side”. The new E.P. was recorded in the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology studios with, according to John, an extremely talented group of audio engineering students. I think it turned out pretty well. Apparently, Passenger’s Side is about defying the feeling that maybe our best days are behind us, and the appeal and romanticism of leaving it all behind. That would be a feeling I try and defy every day. Having lots of great new music around helps!

And that’s all we have time for, this time around. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have a lot of great music and interviews to bring you on future shows. I hope you’ll join us!


You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via iTunes, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)


Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises (Demo)
Roll Right (Pre-release, self)

The Wailin’ Jennys
Weary Blues From Waitin’
Fifteen (2017, True North Records/Red House Records) CDN

(single) (2018, Self) CDN

Dom Flemons
Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad
Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys (2018, Smithsonian Folkways)

Banjo Nickaru & Western Scooches
Don’t You Follow Me
Get Us Out Of Fearland (2018. On The Bol Records)

Andrew Collins Trio
Famous Last Words
Groove (2018, Self) CDN

Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards
The Low Hum
California Calling (2017, Compass Records)

Interview: Laura Cortese recorded at the 2017 Folk North Export Showcase.

Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards
California Calling (2017, Compass Records)

Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards
California Calling
California Calling (2017, Compass Records)

Chris LaVancher
Throwing Good Love After Bad
Big Fat Love (2017, Self)

John Muirhead
Passenger’s Side
Foundational E.P. (2018, Self) CDN

Elly Wininger
Let It Come
Little Red Wagon (2017, Rabbit Hole Records)

About the author


Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee. In 2019, Jan Hall received Folk Music Ontario's prestigious Estelle Klein Award for her contribution to Ontario's folk music community.

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