Laura Cortese has a vision for her band's sound: bold and elegant, schooled in the lyrical rituals of folk music and backed by grooves that alternately inspire Cajun two-stepping and rock-n-roll hip swagger. It's appropriate then that the trio, featuring Cortese, call themselves Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards.??Since appearing on Cortese's most recent album, Into the Dark (2013), Valerie Thompson (cello/vox) and Mariel Vandersteel (fiddle/hardingfele/vox) have paired their sophisticated string arrangements and rich vocal harmonies to Cortese's poignant and powerful singing. Seeing the trio on stage, you get the sense that they might snap some fiddle strings or punch a hole in the bass drum. This is post-folk that seriously rocks.??True to their adventurous spirit and wide-ranging influences, Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards were recently selected from a pool of 400 bands to tour with the US State Department's American Music Abroad program. Starting in January 2014, they will set off to an as-yet-undisclosed region of the world to perform and teach as artist ambassadors. Such a mission is perfect for this trio, whose music communicates the depth and soul of American roots music, using their own uniquely modern voices.