Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

B.A. in Bluegrass

Listening Post 255. Joe Troop doesn’t so much play fusion as embody it: Since his North Carolina childhood, every sound he ever heard seems to have become part of his music personality. At 14 he was inspired when he saw Doc Watson perform, but as much as young Troop covered himself in bluegrass he didn’t think his home turf was the best place for a gay artist, so he opted for world pastures. In Seville he learned Spanish, played tango on his fiddle and joined a manouche-flamenco combo; in Japan he taught English and learned a third language. In 2010 he disembarked in B.A.—Buenos Aires—and stayed. He taught bluegrass and formed Che Apalache (rough translation: “Appalachian buddy”) with three of his students—Argentine-born Franco Martino and Martin Bobrik, and Pau Barjau from Mexico. Their hybrid “Latingrass” gave its name to their first album. During a 2018 North American tour the band so impressed Béla Fleck that the banjo polymath offered to produce their second album: Rearrange My Heart is stunning in sound and reach, 12 tracks of global bluegrass with consummate harmonies. Plus soul-stirring advocacy on a subject Troop knows inside out: Immigration. The Dreamer is a gorgeous, poignant exploration, with Tar Heel roots, of the battered U.S. Dream Act (video 1), while The Wall takes righteous aim at a president’s border fetish (video 2). The album also offers pure fun: La Milonga del Cuis Empedernido (Milonga of a Hardcore Muskrat) pleads for in-person communication (video 3) and in 春の便り (The Coming of Spring, video 4) the band evokes Japanese folk sounds with plucks and plinks from fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo. Like everything else, Che Apalache’s latest tour was rudely interrupted by a pandemic that may rearrange the world. Whatever new normal emerges, long may this ensemble entertain, protest and disrupt expectations. (Free Dirt Records)

Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart
Joe Troop: Vocals, fiddle
Franco Martino: Vocals, guitar
Pau Barjau: Vocals, banjo
Martin Bobrik: Vocals, mandolin

Produced by Béla Fleck

Note: Rearrange My Heart was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Folk Album category.

 

The Dreamer
Lyrics & Music: Joseph Smith Troop

Shepherds wouldn’t roam o’er so harsh a land/There the sun beats down like hell fire
Bones mark a path clear across the sands/Forlorn souls upon them walking

Ay ay ay, mi corazón (Oh, oh, oh my heart)
Venga nuestra salvación (Come our salvation)

Poor baby Moses wasn’t but one year old/When his momma crossed the border
Two little girls scurrying along in tow/He was crying on her shoulder
Their long journey’s end was Yadkin County/Tobacco Road, North Carolina
Where a grief-stricken daddy prayed through desperate nights/His family to be reunited

Ay ay ay, mi corazón (Oh, oh, oh my heart)
Venga nuestra salvación (Come our salvation)

Moses grew up playing hide and seek/Amongst rhododendron branches
But his momma’s fear ran mighty deep/In the hills of Appalachia
Blue flashing lights through endless nights/Proved the world was unforgiving
An immigrant child must face a life/Where dreaming is forbidden

Lord, when all is said and done (¿Cuanto tiempo pasará?/How long will it take?)
And this tired old race is run (¿Cuanto habrá que caminar?/How far must we walk?)
Is there room for love beneath the sun/After all is said and done?

As sure as sunset fades to dusk/And summer green gives way to auburn
Into the wilds was Moses thrust/For to wade against rough waters

Now you and I can sing a song/And we can build a congregation
But only when we take a stand/Will we change our broken nation

Lord, when all is said and done (¿Cuanto tiempo pasará?/How long will it take?)
And this tired old race is run (¿Cuanto habrá que caminar?/How far must we walk?)
Is there room for love beneath the sun/After all is said and done?

 

The Wall
Lyrics & Music: Joseph Smith Troop

Come friends, come friends/Come gather ‘round
For to sing, oh sing we joyfully!
Let us sing about a better world/Where different paths have been unfurled
Of a land where freedom rings

From way up high on a mountain side/One can see the wide world over
From way up there it’s plain to see/Regardless of one’s race or creed
In our hearts we’re all the same

Come sisters, brothers gather near/For we’ve come to share our worries
We fear what some folks have been saying/About Latin Americans
The truth’s been misconstrued

There’s all kinds of talk ‘bout building a wall/Down along the southern border
‘bout building a wall between me and you/Lord, and if such nonsense should come true
Then we’ll have to knock it down

‘Cause that idea won’t fly so high/As a wingless bird in a rock hard sky
So, no siree, we won’t comply/We’re going to stand our ground

To love thy neighbor as thyself/Is a righteous law to live by
But leaders sing a different song/They break us up so they stay strong
And ignorantly we’re strung along/Until we meet our doom

Yes, our leaders are so ripe with sin/They feed us chants to rope us in
But someday soon we’ll find, my friends/That we’re penned against The Wall

Come friends, come friends/Come gather ‘round
For to sing, oh sing we joyfully!
Let us sing about a better world/Where different paths will soon unfurl
Where no man’s blood shall stain the soil/Of a land where freedom rings

 

Milonga del Cuis Empedernido / Milonga of a Hardcore Muskrat
Lyrics: Joseph Smith Troop, Martin Bobrick, Pau Barjau and Franco Martino/Music: Joseph Smith Troop

(from the Spanish lyrics)
What a mess we’ve gotten into?/
This world is screwed
You turn on the little device/You already have ten thousand friends
You grasp the little mouse/And click it a few times
Don’t come to me with a “like”/I’m a muskrat, I want to see you in the flesh

What a mess we’ve gotten into?/The cell phone is sacred
And you don’t spend a second/Without gazing at it in passion
You love it more than your old woman/Than your brother or your papa
That contraption doesn’t deserve/The devotion you give it

Get rid of that phone brother!
How much of life is lost/While you stare at the screen?
I know everyone is like you/So call me old fashioned
But I’d rather chatter face to face/Than live hypnotized

There’s another world/You should get to know
If you leave the gadgetry/You’ll find yourself in it
Let’s stop this charade/Let’s untangle ourselves
Be a hardcore muskrat like me/Put joy in your heart

I’m singing like a gnome/Yodelay, yodelay, yodelay
With my Appalachian banjo/Punctuated with howls
I’m a hardcore muskrat/Covered in musical grass and grime
A distinguished vagrant/Everywhere is my home

 

春の便り / Haru no tayori / The Coming of Spring
Lyrics: Joseph Smith Troop/Music: Joseph Troop Smith, Martin Bobrik, Pau Barjau and Franco Martino

(from the Japanese lyrics)
The message of spring makes its way to the village/
Winter’s chill lessens day by day
Grandmothers and grandfathers play with small children/bathing gleefully in the great sun’s rays

Nature awakens with the aroma of cherry blossoms/as we rejoice in the sunlight’s brilliance
From a far off mountain top, waters from melted snow/come to nourish the fields of the village

 

 


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