Che Apalache has generated quite a buzz in the US this past year, through a number of short tours from their native Argentina to clubs and festivals here that appreciate traditional string music.
The band’s genesis is unique, as is their sound. They were founded by Joe Troop, a North Carolinian by birth who emigrated to Argentina as an adult, who took his love for Appalachian music with him to his new country. There he found others who also loved the string band sound, and began teaching them the finer points of the music. Before long they had a band, initially focused on American bluegrass. But soon the influences of Andean folk music worked their way into their repertoire, and an interesting hybrid developed.
Some have described Che Apalache as Latingrass, an appellation that just might stick as their new album, Rearrange My Heart, hits August 9 on Free Dirt Records. It was produced by Béla Fleck, who saw the band and was so impressed by their sound that he signed right away.
In addition to Troop on fiddle, the group includes Argentineans Franco Martino on guitar and Martin Bobrik on mandolin, with Pau Barjau from Mexico on banjo.
Here is a live video of one the tracks from the album, one that was inspired old time church harmony called The Wall. Joe says it saddens him to see the US adopting a defensive posture towards central American immigrants.
“Beyond the southern border lies a land of boundless creativity and vibrant cultures. Not to mention a mind-blowing universe of music. I’m completely smitten. But since when did being a good neighbor become political? Rejoicing in other nations doesn’t make us traitors to our own; it makes us compassionate global citizens. As far as I see it, there’s a pervasive sadness in cultures that build walls around themselves. We can do better.”
One assumes that Troop became an Argentinian citizen through the proper channels, as any respectful newcomer would. Much of the division over this issue in the US seems to be a result of conflating the issue of legal with undocumented immigration. The US welcomes more new citizens from other nations than any other, but has a legitimate problem with those crossing the southern border unlawfully.
Che Apalache will be touring in the US in July and August. Check the schedule online to see if you might have a chance to see them near you.