Mariel Vandersteel

Somewhere between the fjords of Norway and mountains of the Blue Ridge, the fiddle-playing of Mariel Vandersteel intones the strains of elevation, clarity and tremendous feeling. It is uncanny that she hails from a very different set of mountains: those of northern California. Mariel came of age musically nurtured by the Bay Area’s rich revivalist traditional music scene, receiving a cultural grant to venture to the traditional music archives in Dublin, Ireland, and attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music for violin performance. After graduating, Mariel moved to Norway to study Hardingfele, the country’s national instrument at Hogskolen i Telemark folk music school. Returning to Boston in 2009, Mariel continued to work with acoustic-roots conjurers Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers, exploring musical connections between Scandinavia and the United States.
On her new record, Mariel aims to bridge old and new worlds, organically melding the sounds, ornaments and accents of the fiddle communities in which she has delved; Boston and Norway, Ireland and California. In making the record, the goal was to give an aural snapshot of the textures of those communities. Collaborating with the Boston-area’s finest acoustic musicians, including producer/composer Jordan Tice, Scottish harpist Maeve Gilchrist, Tristan Clarridge, Samson Grisman, Dominick Leslie and Duncan Wickel, Mariel’s new music incorporates lush instrumental dialogues, playful timbral exchanges between fiddle and hardanger, and evocative interpretations of old-world melodies. The record endeavors to capture the incredible energy and ingenuity of the musical community Mariel has surrounded herself with: warmly inviting the listener to the fjord, the Sierra or the living room.
Along with her solo project, Mariel tours nationally and internationally with Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers, Laura Cortese’s Acoustic Project, Putnam Smith, Annalivia and a duo with Emma Beaton.

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