Live eTown Radio Show Taping with Aoife O’Donovan & Che Apalache
- When: March 1, 2020 Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
- Where: eTOWN HALL / 1535 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302
- Cost: $34 (Plus Applicable Service Fees)
More than just a regular concert, eTown is a unique live experience! Audience members will watch the eTown Broadcast recorded before their eyes, complete with performances and interviews with both of our visiting artists, as well as the eChievement Award segment, eTown's opportunity to honor everyday heroes who are doing their part to make the world a better place.
Show Start: 7:00pm
It is hard to believe a voice as fresh and vibrant as Aoife O’Donovan’s has been entertaining us for nearly two decades. She’s released a dozen full-length albums, including two previous solo efforts (2016’s In The Magic Hour and 2011’s Fossils). Her recent partnership with Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz in the folk trio I’m With Her has already resulted in a Grammy and Americana Music award. In recent years, O’Donovan has also been a regular performer on Live From Here, the weekly public radio variety show hosted by musician Chris Thile. Called “a vocalist of unerring instinct” by The New York Times, O’Donovan is the featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning project of Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, and a co-founding member and front woman of the string band, Crooked Still.
O'Donovan returns to E-Town March 1 with Jeremy Kittel, who co-produced and arranged Aoife’s first new studio recording in four years and first with a string quartet, the Bull Frogs Croon (and Other Songs) EP, out March 6. A fascinating and arrestingly beautiful song cycle, Bull Frogs Croon had its origins in 2015 when O’Donovan, violinist and composer Jeremy Kittel, and young conductor Teddy Abrams were commissioned to create a new piece of music for Oregon’s Britt Music and Arts Festival. The performance will be accompanied by musicians from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
Photo Credit Above: Rich Gilligan
Immigration is a powerful topic for Che Apalache bandleader Joe Troop. A polymath, polyglot, and world traveller, Troop left home at a young age, emigrating from this country in search of a better life. Raised in the North Carolina Piedmont, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Troop came of age to the music of bluegrass and all-night jam sessions at festivals, but being a young, queer man in the South, at a certain point he no longer felt welcome in his own home region.
He took refuge abroad, traveling Europe and immersing himself in his two great loves: music and language. He studied Spanish in Spain, spent summers in Morocco, and eventually moved to Japan to teach English. He carried his music and his fiddle with him always, picking up elements of flamenco, jazz manouche, and swing. In 2010, Joe immigrated to Argentina, and, looking to make friends and build a scene, he began teaching bluegrass.
Nine years later, Che Apalache, led by Troop, features three powerhouse Latin American musicians – two from Argentina, Franco Martino (guitar), Martin Bobrik (mandolin), and Pau Barjau (banjo) from Mexico – and has been taking audiences by storm with their fusion of Latin and American roots music. Famed banjo player and cross-genre trailblazer Béla Fleck was so taken with the band that he signed on to produce their new album, Rearrange My Heart, coming August 9, 2019 on Free Dirt Records.
“I love to work with music that intrigues, excites and inspires me,” Fleck explains, “and that describes Che Apalache to a T! We first met at my Blue Ridge Banjo Camp last year. They had come from Buenos Aires and asked to play for me. I was blown away and they blew away the crowd a few days later. It’s been a blast to get to know them in the creative environment; together we’ve come up with what I believe is a truly striking album. I hope you’ll enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed producing.”
With Béla Fleck as producer and a new album on its way, Che Apalache is a success story, but Troop hasn’t returned to the States after over a decade abroad to comfort listeners. He’s here to challenge the narrative, to speak directly on what American policies and perspectives are doing to the world. “We’re trying to take our message to the people who most need to hear it.”
Troop explains. “We want to have respectful dialogue with people that aren’t coming from the same place we are, and we want to challenge their way of thinking.” Opening with a traditional greeting in the Uruguayan murga style before segueing into the song “María,” which has touches of candombe, flamenco and Spanish Sephardic Jewish music, Che Apalache’s global sensibilities are clear.
The heart of the album, though, lies with the powerful song “The Dreamer,” written about Troop’s friend Moises Serrano. A queer North Carolinian immigrant from Mexico and a DACA recipient, Serrano was raised in the same region as Troop. “The Dreamer” states Che Apalache’s mission: subvert the narrative from within. “We’re reeling people in with music they understand,” Troop explains, “but then we give them a twist. This is all intentional, I’ve had years living outside this country to think about how to do this.”
The power of the subversion lies in how well Troop understands Appalachian and Southern audiences, and also in an honest love for the music. The band spent years perfecting Stanley Brothers-style harmonies, trying to get the sound just right. They then married that sound with brutally honest lyrics lamenting Trump’s rhetoric for “The Wall.” This level of subversion brings its own risks though.
They sang the song at a famous Virginia fiddler’s convention the same day that Nazis marched in the streets of nearby Charlottesville, and had to drop everything and run for safety when an enraged audience member stormed the backstage to attack them. Che Apalache was formed to enjoy music, to honor it, and to bridge the gap between North and South America, creating a vision of a truly “American” music. Through the controversy and the political fire that fuels Che Apalache’s music, Troop hasn’t lost sight of what first inspired him, the first moment he fell in love with the music.
At just fourteen years old, in a small diner in Boone, North Carolina, he heard a humble man playing with his friends and family. That man was Doc Watson. For Troop and Che Apalache to come full circle and to create a new album with another legend of bluegrass, Béla Fleck, that’s the American dream that Che Apalache embodies.
Photo Credit Above: Racheal Baker
The City of Boulder now offers "$3 for 3 to 3" parking on weekdays from 3pm to 3am. This offer is available at the 15th and Pearl parking garage (additional entrance located on 16th Street). "$3 for 3 to 3” runs through Dec. 31, 2020. Parking in the city parking garages will remain free Saturdays, Sundays and city-recognized holidays. For more information, visit https://bouldercolorado.gov/parking-services.