Boston-based trio Nor’easter is Cedar Stanistreet on the fiddle, Max Newman on the mandolin and guitar, and Julie Vallimont on the piano and accordion. Drawing from New England musical traditions, they delight in creating an exciting, joyous sound that catches both your ear and your feet. They began playing together in 2008 and in that time their musicianship and dedication to a great performance has earned them a wide following. They have traveled throughout the continent, playing in more than twenty US States and three Canadian provinces.
In 2012, they released their first album, Waiting for the Snow, produced by Pete Sutherland (member of The Clayfoot Strutters and producer of albums by Nightingale and Wild Asparagus, among others). Whether at a contra dance, English dance, or in concert, their music showcases a contemporary approach to tunes. Layered, dance-driven arrangements and fiery performance are at the heart of their commitment to playing great, powerful music.
Cedar grew up in the folk music scene of eastern New York state, and after beginning violin lessons at age 5, he soon took up fiddling, encouraged by family friends John Kirk and Trish Miller. He went on to study violin performance at the Crane School of Music, as well as violin making at the North Bennet Street School. Today, his playing incorporates elements from a variety of traditional styles, especially traditional Irish music, creating a spirited, rhythmic sound that keeps dancers on their feet. Along with Nor’easter, he plays with Cardinal Direction and the Agnostic Fiddle Insurgency.
In addition to playing for dances, Cedar is an avid contra dancer and is on the organizing committee for the Brattleboro Dawn Dance. He also enjoys teaching violin and fiddle lessons, as well as building, repairing and adjusting violins and violas out of his home near Greenfield, MA.
Julie, a former classical pianist and organist, fell in love with dance music after attending contra dances in Maine and Boston. Her compelling, rhythmic piano style draws on her study of New England contra piano and traditional Quebecois, Irish, and Cape Breton music, along with elements of rock and jazz. Julie performs nationwide with Nor’easter and several other contra and English collaborations, including La Banane Enchantée and the contra/livetronica projects Buddy System and Firecloud. Julie also plays in the band Petrichor.
Drawing on teaching skills developed over fifteen years as a natural science educator, Julie enjoys leading workshops at dance weekends and festivals and teaches piano privately in her home studio in Somerville, MA. Julie is also an active dance organizer. A founding member of BIDA, she focuses on training sound engineers, providing opportunities for musicians, and running the Spark in the Dark techno contra series.
Max has been surrounded by traditional music and dance from an early age, often traveling with his dad to local contra dances, Irish music sessions, and folk festivals in his home state of Alaska, before relocating to the Northeast. His dynamic mandolin playing provides lyrical counterpoint and improvisatory punch, and his guitar playing is rich, powerful, and nuanced. He also performs in Stringrays with Rodney Miller and Stuart Kenney.
Max maintains a keen interest in the future of music and dance traditions. He worked as the Youth Projects Intern at CDSS, leading workshops and developing materials for dance organizers, callers, and musicians. He serves on the committee for Youth Dance Weekend, an event dedicated to developing leadership among the next generation of contra and English participants. And like his bandmates, he enjoys teaching and encourages prospective students to get in touch.