This Band Blends Bluegrass and Latin Roots Music to Poeticize Protest

Music News Che Apalache
This Band Blends Bluegrass and Latin Roots Music to Poeticize Protest

Che Apalache frontman and fiddler Joe Troop was raised on roots music. Growing up in North Carolina in the Appalachian foothills, he was constantly surrounded by bluegrass—all-night jam sessions, old-time festivals and the like.

But it wasn’t until after he left the U.S., bounced from Spain to Morocco to Japan and then finally settled in Argentina in 2010 that he formed Che Apalache, a band that blends roots sounds from all the aforementioned countries with good ol’ fashioned American bluegrass to craft one-of-a-kind protest tunes. Their latest is inspired by Troop’s friend Moises Serrano, a DACA recipient. It’s called “The Dreamer,” and you can listen to it below.

Troop and Serrano are both queer men from the South, so while they share that connection, this song mostly tackles a different issue—immigration, and the human faces behind the policies. Over banjos, fiddle and backup verses sung in Spanish, Troop smoothly sings about a family in a foreign land, describing a hard truth: “An immigrant child must face a life where dreaming is forbidden.” He leaves us with an even bigger pill to swallow: “Now you and I can sing a song and build a congregation,” he sings, “But only when we take a stand will we change our broken nation.”

Che Apalache is something of a Latin American supergroup with members from Argentina (guitarist Franco Martino and mandolinist Martin Bobrik) and Mexico (banjoist Pau Barjau). Their new album, which was produced by Béla Fleck, is called Rearrange My Heart, and it’s out Aug. 9 on Free Dirt Records. It’s a musical melting pot—you’re just as likely to hear flamenco as gospel music and Uruguayan murga as knee-slapping old-time.

Again, you can listen to “The Dreamer” below. Pre-order Rearrange My Heart right here.

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