“Latingrass quartet Che Apalache has skyrocketed in the year since we shook on this Myrna Loy concert deal,” says the Helena performing arts center’s executive director, Krys Holmes.
They’ve been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, rocked the mainstage at RockyGrass 2019, and launched their new album, Rearrange My Heart, Aug. 9. It’s produced by roots music luminary Bela Fleck, who signed the band the first time he heard them.
“This blend of Appalachian and Latin music took me completely off guard and won me over instantly,” says Fleck. “This is a band to watch.”
Che Apalache (“Che” means buddy or pal) is an international roots music phenomenon blending traditional mountain tunes from Appalachia, where founder and fiddler Joe Troop grew up, with the street music he discovered when he migrated to Argentina: cumbia, tango and candombe.
Troop, a North Carolinian multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer, moved to Buenos Aires in 2010. While patiently carving out a niche in the local music scene, he taught bluegrass and old-time music for a living. That’s how he met Pau Barjau (banjo), Franco Martino (guitar) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin), his most dedicated students. They quickly became picking buddies and in 2013 decided to hit the stage.
Che Apalache began as a bluegrass band, but eventually incorporated Latin American styles into their repertoire. Combining instrumental prowess with tight vocal harmonies, they have curated an authentic blend of genres to reflect the nature of their lives, evoking images from Appalachia to the Andes.
Martino and Bobrik, both Argentinian, and Barjau from Mexico sing powerfully of the immigrant experience (both directions). At the same time the quartet smashes musical traditions together to create a highly energetic, compelling sound.
“Sometimes we get standing ovations in the middle of a song,” Troop told Rolling Stone this summer.
Che Apalache in Montana
Bozeman: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Ellen Theatre; tickets are $21.50.
Helena: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at The Myrna Loy. Tickets are $18-$24; order online or call 406-443-0287.
Big Sky: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center; tickets are $14-$19. Call 406-995-6345 or order online.