Artist Blog: Fiddler Laura Cortese—Life on the Road

By Laura Cortese

“How do you do it? So much travel. Is it exciting? Is it exhausting? What a lucky job. I’d trade places in a second.”

Music is my life. I spent 200+ days on the road last year. I’ve never had another job, so I have nothing to compare it to. When I think of the “day job” archetype—desk in a cubicle with no windows—I am convinced I would whither with no time outdoors. That said, my cubicle is only slightly larger than yours and four people share it. It travels at about 70 mph unless, of course, we are stuck in traffic, and then we limp along at 5 mph.


If you are a glass-half-full type, you probably imagine an open road, a sunny day, and the world ahead of you, adventure waiting. A more anxious type looks at the number of people in the audience, and thinks about the four people in the band, a rental car, the flight costs, and wonders how this could possibly be sustainable. She imagines peanut butter and banana sandwiches and pocketing toiletries from rare nights spent in a hotel. She hears that we are sleeping on couches for several nights in a row and recalls how her back felt the last time she fell asleep on the sofa. How she missed her bed, her morning ritual, and her family the last time she took a vacation with the pals!

I can tell you that both of these imaginings ring true. I am both the optimist and the pessimist, depending on the day or sometimes the minute.


So what does sustain me? Taking out my pen and a postcard while sitting in the back seat of the cramped van to write a few lines to loved ones back home. Pulling myself out of bed an hour or two before lobby call after a late night of playing tunes to run between the ruins of Thessaloniki or along Kelvin Grove to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Climbing to the highest point to watch the strawberry moon rise while singing songs together.

Then, of course, there is the unexpected joy of finding a perfect cafe while rambling through city streets. Most recently it was, “For Fika Sake” newly opened in Glasgow. Fika is the Swedish cultural concept of enjoying a cup of coffee and a sweet treat in the company of your friends. My band fell in love with fika while on tour in Sweden last summer. When we stumbled on this Scandinavian-style coffee shop in the middle of Scotland it felt bigger than just finding a great cup of coffee, which is a joy to be noted. It was a reminder that we have the time to take a moment and enjoy the company of our friends. These are the people who welcome us into their homes and expect nothing in return except the hugs we have to offer.

I miss these people when I am home. It’s a vicious cycle, really.

For more information about current projects by Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, visit