May 4, 2021
Feb 23, 2021
Oct 19, 2020
Jul 8, 2019
By Robert Dean
When I sat down to listen to Che Apalache, I had no expectations. I didn't have any preconceived notions, because I'd never heard of them, they were just another email in my inbox. Upon listening to their new record, Rearrange My Heart, everything stopped, because in what's one of the rare times in a music critic's life, what's there is something new, something different, and truthfully, it's hard to put a pin on precisely what Che Apalache is doing because it's important.
How you describe the band is a lot of things, it's like, queer Latin country/gospel/bluegrass?
Whatever you call it, the music, the vibe, the sound is not your run of the mill yodeling over some banjos we've heard time and time again. Instead, the music on Rearrange My Heart is all over the place, it's a little bit of the hills, but then has world music baked into the soul, as well. Trying to place your finger on what Che Apalache is doing is hard, there's just so much going on, but that's also probably reflective of why world-renowned musician and bandleader Bela Fleck got involved and produced the project.
The themes featured throughout Rearrange My Heart aren't good timey songs about running from the law or drinking dark whiskey in the hills, but instead, run much deeper. "The Dreamer" tells the story of Moises Serrano, a queer DACA recipient from North Carolina, while this story is heavy-duty, it also doubles with intensity considering bandleader Joe Troop is queer from North Carolina, who also happens to be a polymath, polyglot, and a world traveler – I told you there was a lot going on here.
Needless to say, the record is filled with many heavy themes, broadcasting identity notwithstanding. Troop was raised in the North Carolina Piedmont, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and learned his craft hitting bluegrass open mics and all-night jam sessions. But, Troop didn't stick around in the area for long but instead split for Europe's friendlier climate. Troop was a young, gay, musician raised deep within a red state, so instead of battling it out, he studied Spanish in Spain, spent summers in Morocco, and eventually moved to Japan.
But, despite all of the moving around, Troop kept playing and forming the idea of Che Apalache, while infusing flamenco, jazz, and swing. In 2010, Joe immigrated to Argentina and began teaching bluegrass.
Almost a decade later, Che Apalache, led by Troop, features three powerhouse Latin American musicians – two from Argentina, Franco Martino (guitar), Martin Bobrik (mandolin), and one from Mexico, Pau Bajau (banjo) – and are blowing people away with the album's eclectic mix of sounds, styles, and harmonies. Some tunes are crazy political, while others are sung in Japanese. There are no dull corners for Che Apalache, and throughout the record, there's a never-ending supply of though-provoking progression that simply doesn't sound like anything you've heard. If you're looking for your next musical challenge, this is an excellent place to start.
Jun 3, 2019
Dori Freeman isn't the only person in her family with chops; apparently grandpa has them too
By Robert Dean
In the random goodness section of Farce The Music, I was given the link to check out Willard Gayheart's new record, At Home in the Blue Ridge. While it's straight ahead, down-home bluegrass, that's entirely capable of captivating even the most stringent of fans, what's endearing about the project is that this is Gayheart's first record, and he's 87 years old.
Gayheart is a famed visual artist in the small town of Galax, Virginia and has been in the bluegrass scene throughout the Blue Ridge Mountain area, but At Home in the Blue Ridge is a substantial collection of songs that is nothing but a sweet surprise. Gayheart should have released a solo record decades ago considering how well the songs are put together.
The songs on the record are clearly rooted in the Appalachian traditions as well as respect for the local culture. Despite playing in bluegrass bands throughout the years, Gayheart hadn't flexed his songwriting muscles, till it became a family affair as At Home in The Blue Ridge features his granddaughter, the Americana songstress Dori Freeman, her husband Nick Falk, plus Dori's dad Scott Freeman. The record was produced by Teddy Thompson, who's long been a collaborator with Dori.
What gives At Home in The Blue Ridge it's unique and inviting tone is that it was recorded live in Willard's frame shop where he proudly displays and sells his pencil drawings. How homespun is that? One of the most endearing things about Gayheart's songs are the stripped down, honest themes of the bygone days of Appalachia, good times and bad when people still scraped livings from the mountains themselves, growing what they had to eat and sharing what they grew.
At Home in the Blue Ridge is available on Amazon and other music sites.
Feb 15, 2017
Hey dork, do you like Cole Swindell?
When Isbell hits a tooooo sweet guitar solo
Nashville's latest hit "country" duo
When your friend really got into that Luke Bryan karaoke
tonight, a little too into it...
Ooh, is that JJ Grey & Mofro? Well turn it up!
When the banjo player finally gets tired of a heckler
Opening act for Montgomery Gentry these days ...probably
Getting sick of Kelsea Ballerini's Barbie ass like...
When you took too many drugs at the bluegrass festival
Dec 14, 2014
Apr 20, 2014
Oct 20, 2013
Mar 13, 2012
Inspired by this photo and #6 posted on Facebook.
10. The Compton Clawhammers
09. Seven Leaf Magic
08. Nuthin' But a Banjo Thang
07. High Up on the Mountain-men
06. The Doggy Mountain Boys (From Engine 145)
04. Hoeslappa Ridge Rangers
03. The Shizzle Brothers
02. Murder Ballads Were the Case
01. Calvin Broadus and the Sticky Icky Riders