Laura Cortese & Forest Fires Play Brooklyn at Pete’s Candy Store Tonight


As the Beatles sang, we get by with a little help from our friends. In this case Laura Cortese and Christopher Pappas, members of Boston’s fertile music community will collaborate musically while touring together. Rather than the standard double bill set-up, they will perform together and separately, treating audiences to new material and older songs on each night of music. The two singer/songwriter/instrumentalists met at the vaunted Lizard Lounge during one of Session American’s musical nights; after being invited as guests and getting to know each other, Cortese joined Pappas at a residency at another artist-friendly area room, Toad. The seed was planted to perform together on tour.

Laura Cortese has been at the heart of a creative renaissance in the Boston and Northeast acoustic music scene in the past few years. She’s a co-founder of the Boston Celtic Music Festival, and has played in the groundbreaking bands Uncle Earl (on double bass!), The Anarchist Orchestra (with Tao Rodriguez-Seeger of The Mammals) and even The Jolly Bankers, a subversively poppy stringband with a semi-cult following. Laura is enjoying a busy 2009. She has been featured at Madison Square Garden with Patterson Hood (Drive By Truckers) and Michael Franti (Spearhead) as part of Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration which is currently airing nationally on PBS’ Great Performances. Laura has toured Denmark, Ireland, the UK and the US in recent months under her own name. In June Laura joined indie rockers Band of Horses on a short run including a sold out Carnegie Hall show where Ben Bridwell and Laura sang their take on the Gram Parson and Emmylou Harris classic “A Song For You.” Playing live with her band Laura delivers original and traditional songs with the unusual combination of fiddle, bass, drums and voice. Laura’s many loyal fans in the Northeast traditional music scene have been hearing this sound evolve in her live shows and in her last two studio albums, Even the Lost Creek (2006) and Hush (2002). John Wenzel of The Denver Post said it best: “Ambition often follows talent, and Laura Cortese has an embarrassment of both.”

Forest Fires could be the machine of a foolish person, a chronicle devoted to trying in vain to chase down a dream of living a life that was outside his door the whole time. Or, perhaps, it is an offering to the shore – a post stuck in the dirt, a document, a sum of all the potential, realized or not, left for others to see. For better or for worse it is a record of songs that didn’t exist before; written, sung, and played by Christopher Pappas – a musician, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. An obsessive artist; crippled by a childhood illness that left his neck fused stiff and his fingers crooked. A performer battling the duality of the introvert and extrovert, trying to be all things to all people or to be nothing to anyone.

“Hark! …and Other Lost Transmissions” is not the story of this boy from New Hampshire, struggling to leave his footprints on the shore like a time capsule. Rather, it is the time capsule; the culmination of the obsessions, from first hearing the artists who would change his life; R.E.M., Crosby, Still, Nash, & Young, Nirvana, to recording his first songs at age 12 on his father’s tape machine, from sitting in his room teaching himself multiple instruments to filling multiple notebooks full of songs and ramblings. “Hark!”, like every record at its moment of release, is the finishing line of all that came before it, an ending point – a collapsed wave, an artifact on the shore. The Boston Phoenix raves about a song from the album, “The gorgeous “Lost at Sea” is like a long-lost out-take from Sweetheart of the Rodeo.”

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