Freight Fiddle Summit 2017

Join us for a rousing evening of fiddle magic steeped in talent and tradition: the 29th annual Freight Fiddle Summit. You’ll be in excellent company with host Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas, Hot Club of San Francisco, André Brunet, Eric Beaudry, Cali McKasson, Nic Gareiss, Brittany Haas, Hanneke Cassel, Laura Risk, Cali McKasson, Ryan McCasson, Laura Cortese, and more world class string players than you can imagine.

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas

" … you would think they'd been playing together for centuries. While his fiddle dances, her cello throbs darkly or plucks
puckishly. Then [Haas] opens her cello's throat, joining Fraser in soaring sustains, windswept refrains, and sudden, jazzy explosions. Their sound is as urbane as a Manhattan midnight, and as wild as a Clackmannan [Scotland] winter."
— Boston Globe

"Fraser, one of the most respected of all exponents of the Scots fiddle, would look long and hard to find a more appropriate
cellist as a partner. Haas can switch just as effortlessly as Fraser from a gentle singing tone to driving, dancing melody. A positive joy."
— The Scotsman

The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as Scotland's premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly-talented young California cellist Natalie Haas may not seem an obvious one. Fraser, acclaimed by the San Francisco Examiner as "the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling," has a concert and recording career spanning 30 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks (Last of the Mohicans, Titanic). Fraser has been sponsored by the British Council to represent Scotland's music internationally, and received the Scottish Heritage Center Service Award for outstanding contributions to Scottish culture and traditions.

Natalie Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, wasn't even born when Alasdair was winning national fiddle competitions on the other side of the Atlantic. But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, whose cutting-edge musical explorations took him full circle to find a cellist who could help him return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music.

"Going back to the 1700s, and as late as the early 20th century," Fraser says, "fiddle and cello made up the dance band of choice in Scotland, with the cellist bowing bass lines and driving the rhythm. Pianos and accordions elbowed out the cello, relegating it to an orchestral setting. I've been pushing to get the cello back into the traditional music scene for years, always on the lookout for a cellist with whom I could have a strong musical conversation, one that incorporated not just the cello's gorgeous melodic tones, but also the gristly bits—the rhythmic, percussive energy that makes the wee hairs on the back of the neck stand up."

Natalie Haas was just 11 when she first attended Fraser's Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in California. She responded to Fraser's challenge to find and release the cello's rhythmic soul, and four years later, when Natalie was just 15, Fraser and Haas played their first gig together. Now regularly touring with Fraser and creating a buzz at festivals and in concert halls throughout Europe and North America, Natalie is in the vanguard of young cellists who are redefining the role of the cello in traditional music.

The duo represented Scotland at the Smithsonian Museum's Folklife Festival, have been featured on nationally broadcast Performance Today, the Thistle & Shamrock, and Mountain Stage. They both teach at Fraser's popular annual summer fiddle courses (Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School and Sierra Fiddle Camp in California, and at Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic College in Scotland), and Natalie is on the faculty of Berklee College of Music in Boston.

"Cellists are coming out of the woodwork to study with Natalie, to learn how she creates a groove and a whole chunky rhythm section," says Fraser. "It's inspiring to hear the cello unleashed from its orchestral shackles!"

One of the inspirations is the duo's debut recording, Fire & Grace, which displays dazzling teamwork, driving, dancing rhythms, and the duo's shared passion for improvising on the melody and the groove of Scottish tunes. The two instruments duck and dive around each other, swapping melodic and harmonic lines, and trading rhythmic riffs. The recording won not only critical acclaim, but also the coveted the Scots Trad Music "Album of the Year" award, the Scottish equivalent of a Grammy. Fire & Grace, and the duo's new CD In the Moment, and Fraser's many other recordings are on his own Culburnie Records label.

Evan Price & Paul "Pazzo” Mehling (of The Hot Club of San Francisco)

André Brunet & Éric Beaudry


Cali McKasson


Nic Gareiss

Michigan-born dancer, musician, and dance researcher Nic Gareiss has studied a broad variety of percussive movement forms from around the world. At the age of eight he began taking tap dance lessons with Sam and Lisa Williams at Vision Studio of Performing Arts in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Soon after, he was exposed to fiddle music and other percussive dance forms at the Wheatland Music Organization’s annual Traditional Arts Weekend. It was there that he had his first instruction in Appalachian clogging with Michigan dance mentor, Sheila Graziano. As a teenager, Nic also studied Irish step dance with John Heinzman, T.C.R.G., Appalachian flat-footing with Ira Bernstein, Québécois step dance with Benoit Bourque, and improvisation and composition with Sandy Silva.

Welding the propulsive grace of ancient 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 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.

At the outset of the EP series, the outgoing Cortese reached out to her community of friends and fellow musicians to create 3 unique ensembles for each recording. Two Amps, One Microphone came first, a duet between Cortese and Jefferson Hamer. After spending a year performing as a duo they recorded a string of celtic-influenced American rock songs in one night. The two singers shared a mic and the set came together with nary an overdub.

With more than enough material mounting from solo tours and disciplined writing sessions (along with a few of her favorite songs by others), Cortese approached three women Natalie Haas, Brittany Haas (Crooked Still), and Hanneke Cassel to record her Acoustic Project. The EP features five songs and two instrumentals played by Laura and company on fiddles and cello. From the driving, Cajun- influenced "Perfect Tuesdays" to the sparse plucked "Women of The Ages" the arrangements of Cortese's Acoustic Project explore the potential of a fiddle-based string quartet.

Laura and her Acoustic Project band have been enjoying glowing reviews playing festivals and concerts in 2011. The variety of textures, styles, and approaches reflect Cortese's own rich musical background. Raised in the trad hotbed of the San Francisco Bay area, Cortese was introduced to music early on, via school orchestras and musicals. That interest was subsequently expanded at the fiddle camps and festivals she attended as a teenager, where she developed a keen understanding of and aptitude for various traditional fiddle strains. She attended the Berklee College of Music - where her classmates included Carrie Rodriguez, Casey Driessen, and April Verch - which further fueled her collaborative instincts and modern sensibilities. Cortese self-released two acclaimed solo albums (2004's traditionally- minded Hush and the more personal Even the Lost Creek in 2006), which she supported with increasingly dynamic, spontaneous performances where she could be backed by anything from a large ensemble to just drums and her own surging fiddle. Her showmanship, charm and virtuosic technique made her a favorite among musicians and music lovers alike, at home in New England as well as overseas in the UK, Ireland and Denmark. Extensive touring in these countries earned her numerous fans and gave a fresh perspective on Cortese's art.

Tireless and always looking to the future, Laura Cortese is gearing up to put the finishing touches on a second Acoustic Project record, what she feels is her most vivid statement yet . "This EP series," she reflects. "gave me a chance to work with many different artists I respect greatly, and I opened myself to their ideas. I worked with them to create an environment that allowed me to showcase my range of influences and to incorporate their input, while staying true to my own voice."

$26 ADV / $30 DOOR


All tickets are subject to an additional $4 per ticket facility fee.

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