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The Bluegrass Situation: Che Apalache, connection through context

By Justin Hiltner

As a column, Shout & Shine tends to hinge on unpacking, refuting, and/or subverting expectations about who does and doesn’t “own” American roots music and its constituent genres. So it’s interesting that, in a conversation with Joe Troop, frontman of Argentina-based, bluegrass-flavored, Latin-infused string band Che Apalache, not only would we come up against those sorts of expectations — and how the band refuses to fit any molds set forth by them — but also in certain cases, we realize they fit quite tidily into the norm, the tradition, and the heritage of the music. Despite however far or wide a band may stray from what we may automatically suppose these genres ought to look like, feel like, and sound, roots music will almost always demonstrate that we are more connected and more similar than we’ve been led to believe.

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Bluegrass Today: Bluegrass Beyond Borders – Che Apalache from south of the Border

(By Lee Zimmerman)

At first it seems like an unlikely combination at best — a bluegrass band that sings in Spanish and adds elements of Latin music to their material. Nevertheless, Che Apalache, a four-man string band based in Buenos Aires that includes players from Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, does just that. Led by fiddler Joe Troop, a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from North Carolinia who relocated to Argentina in 2010, he met his future compatriots — Pau Barjau (banjo), Franco Martino (guitar), and Martin Bobrik (mandolin) — while teaching music for a living, and ended up forming the band.

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North Carolina Public Radio: “‘Che Apalache’ Strums Bluegrass From Buenos Aires”

(By Anita Rao and Frank Stasio)

The word ‘che’ is ubiquitous on the streets of Argentina. It is a term of endearment that people use often in casual conversation – similar to a word like buddy in American slang. So when North Carolina native Joe Troop decided to form a band in Buenos Aires with a group of his students, he found it fitting to characterize themselves using the term ‘che.’ The band Che Apalache is comprised of four musicians from three countries who fuse Appalachian folk with Latin American music.
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Across the Blue Ridge: “Bluegrass and Old Time Music From a Latin Perspective”

(by Paul Brown)

This week we feature exciting bluegrass and old time music from a Latin perspective, along with our usual classics from senior and contemporary artists. Hear Che Apalache, a youthful band of four hailing from the US, Argentina and Mexico. Their fusion of styles and traditions works beautifully to showcase the core characteristics of most traditional music around the world: a good accessible melody; strong and driving rhythm, and ongoing drone notes giving the music a sense of continuity. Led by Joe Troop, originally from North Carolina, Che Apalache made a brief southeast U.S. tour and a big hit among roots music fans this past summer. Of course, this week’s show also contains a collection of songs and tunes in classic old time, bluegrass and blues styles – from The Blue Sky Boys; Tom, Brad & Alice; Brandon Lee Adams and Jason Cade.
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