Tag Archives: Bluegrass

Remarkable Latin American and Bluegrass Alchemy

Che Apalache – Rearrange My Heart (Free Dirt Records, 2019)

Che Apalache is a fascinating band from Buenos Aires (Argentina) that brings together Argentine, Mexican, East Asian, Spanish, Gypsy swing, and American bluegrass influences.

The group is led by American vocalist, fiddler, musical instructor and global traveler Joe Troop, born and raised in North Carolina.

In Argentina, Troop came into contact with three outstanding musicians from Hispanic America, guitarist Franco Martino (Argentina), mandolinist Martin Bobrik (Argentina) and banjoist Pau Barjan (Mexico).

Rearrange My Heart was produced by the great banjo innovator Béla Fleck. “I love to work with music that intrigues, excites and inspires me,” Fleck says, “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.”

Che Apalache – Rearrange My Heart

The vocals are in English and Spanish, with Troop on lead vocals and his colleagues on Appalachian-style vocal harmonies. Troop’s lyrics reflect his social justice concerns: anti-immigrant rhetoric in the USA coming from the White House, the building of the border wall in the United States’ southern border with Mexico and the drama of the Dreamers (undocumented immigrants taken to the USA when they were young children).

Che Apalache is an exciting rising talent in the world music scene, an example of skillful hybridization and impeccable acoustic music craftsmanship.

Buy Rearrange My Heart


Artist Profiles: Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens was born February 21, 1977 in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is a renowned multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer-songwriter and researcher, best known as one of the founders of the country, blues and old-time music band Carolina Chocolate Drops, where she was the lead singer, violinist, and banjo player.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ album Genuine Negro Jig won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.

One of the essential part of Giddens’ work is her research of folk instruments and traditions of the African-American diaspora.

Rhiannon Giddens – Photo by Dan Winters

A MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient, Rhiannon has performed for the Obama’s at the White House and acted in two seasons of the hit television series Nashville.

In February 2015, Giddens released her debut solo recording
Tomorrow Is My Turn on Nonesuch Records to widespread critical acclaim. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the album includes songs made famous by Patsy Cline, Odetta, Dolly Parton, and Nina Simone.

In addition to her solo recordings and her albums with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon recorded Out On the Ocean: Music of the British Isles (2004) and Northern Lights (2005) with Gaelwynd; Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes (2014) as The New Basement Tapes; and Songs of Our Native Daughters (Smithsonian Folkways), a collaborative album that tells the stories of historic black womanhood and survival. Rhiannon has European American, African American and Native American background.

In 2016, Rhiannon received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.

in 2019 she collaborated with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. they released an album titled


With Carolina Chocolate Drops:

Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind (Music Maker, 2006)
The Great Debaters Soundtrack, with Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharon Jones and Teenie Hodges (Atlantic, 2007)
Heritage (Dixiefrog, 2008)
Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson (Music Maker, 2009)
Genuine Negro Jig (Nonesuch, 2010)
Carolina Chocolate Drops/Luminescent Orchestrii EP (Nonesuch, 2011)
Leaving Eden (Nonesuch, 2012)

As Rhiannon Giddens:

We Rise, EP (NC Music Love Army records, 2014)
Tomorrow Is My Turn (Nonesuch, 2015)
Factory Girl, EP (Nonesuch, 2015)
Live at Jazzfest 2016 (MunckMix, 2016)
Freedom Highway (Nonesuch, 2017)
Live at Jazzfest 2017 (MunckMix, 2017)
There Is No Other, with Francesco Turrisi (Nonesuch, 2019)


Latingrass Phenomenon Che Apalache to Perform in Carrboro

Che Apalache

Che Apalache, a remarkable group featuring North Carolinian and Argentine Musicians is currently touring the United States and is set to perform on Friday, April 26th at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina. The current tour includes the East Coast and Midwest and ends in California.

The ensemble’s Latingrass style is described as a mix of South American music and bluegrass. Last August they were discovered by renowned banjo player Béla Fleck, who offered to produce their next album. This past February, Che Apalache traveled to Nashville and recorded the album, which will be released in the summer of 2019 on Free Dirt Records. Three more U.S. tours are scheduled for 2019, including major bluegrass festivals, Universities and Performing Arts Centers, along with showcase clubs.

Che Apalache’s founder, Joe Troop (fiddle) is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and moved to Argentina in 2010. While slowly carving out a niche in the local music scene, Joe taught bluegrass and oldtime music for a living. That’s how he met Mexican Pau Barjau (banjo), and Argentine musicians Franco Martino (guitar) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin). What began as a band formed between a teacher and his students has evolved into a rich musical collaboration that addresses social issues to bridge the gap dividing the Americas.

The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G East Main St. Carrboro, NC 27510, (919) 929-2787.


Artist Profiles: Che Apalache

Che Apalache

Che Apalache is the demonstration of a powerful cultural and musical exchange. Formed in the urban neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the string band ensemble draws intensely from the musical traditions of the Southern United States and Latin America.

The group’s founder, Joe Troop (fiddle) is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and moved to Argentina in 2010. While he gradually carved out a niche in the local music scene, Joe taught bluegrass and old-time music for a living.

Joe met Mexican artist Pau Barjau (banjo), and Argentine musicians Franco Martino (guitar) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin). What started as a group created between an instructor and his students progressed into a rich musical collaboration that brought together bluegrass and South American music.

The band’s debut album Latingrass, came out in 2017.

Che Apalache – Latingrass

American banjo player banjo player Béla Fleck produced their next album in Nashville, scheduled for release in the summer of 2019 on Free Dirt Records.


Latingrass (2017)


Heartfelt and Sorrowful Castilian Bluegrass

Los Hermanos Cubero – Quique dibuja la tristeza

Los Hermanos Cubero – Quique dibuja la tristeza (El Segell del Primavera, 2018)

Quique dibuja la tristeza (Quique draws sadness) is the winner of this year’s Best World Music and Fusion Album at Spain’s prestigious Premios MIN (the influential indie awards). Los Hermanos Cubero are brothers Enrique (Quique) Ruiz Cubero and Roberto Ruiz Cubero. For several years, they have been mixing Castilian folk music with American bluegrass.

Los Hermanos Cubero

This is a bittersweet album, a tribute to Quique’s wife, Olga, who died of cancer. The lyrics reflect the pain, memories, and grief that so deeply affected Quique. Musically, the bluegrass influences are clearly visible in the form of intimate acoustic arrangements with mandolin and guitar. Meanwhile, the guest fiddler adds a country and western element.

Quique dibuja la tristeza was recorded live at the end of 2017 with a mobile unit at LaVeguilla Winery in Olivares de Duero (Valladolid province). The lineup featured Enrique (Quique) Ruiz Cubero on guitar and vocals; Roberto Ruiz Cubero on mandolin and vocals; Jaime del Blanco on violin, baritone violin and viola; and Oriol Aguilar on acoustic bass.

Los Hermanos Cubero have released an intensely personal album with remarkably expressive vocals and a fascinating, stripped down bluegrass meets Spanish trad crossover sound.


A Tribute to the Groundbreaking Kentucky Colonels

Roland White – A Tribute to the Kentucky Colonels

Roland White – A Tribute to the Kentucky Colonels (Mountain Home Records ‎MH17242, 2018)

Mandolin virtuoso and vocalist Roland White recorded A Tribute to the Kentucky Colonels with various generations of bluegrass musicians. Roland, who was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame, was one of the original founders of the Kentucky Colonels, a bluegrass band from southern California that became popular during the 1960s.

The Kentucky Colonels introduced the acoustic guitar as a lead instrument in bluegrass. The Kentucky Colonels released two influential albums in the 60s: The New Sound of Bluegrass America (1963) and Appalachian Swing! (1964).

The material featured on A Tribute to the Kentucky Colonels are superb new recordings made in North Carolina and Tennessee of classic songs and swinging instrumentals that the Kentucky Colonels popularized in the 1960s. Although the mandolin takes the leading role, there is plenty of dazzling interplay between the mandolin, guitar, banjo and fiddle.

The lineup includes Roland White on mandolin and vocals and some of the finest musicians in the North Carolina and Tennessee bluegrass scenes: ; Gina Furtado on banjo; Jeremy Darrow on double bass; Jeremy Garrett on fiddle; Drew Matulich on guitar; Darin & Brooke Aldridge on harmony vocals; Russ Carson on banjo; Jon Weisberger on double bass and harmony vocals; Brittany Haas on fiddle; Billy Strings on guitar; Justin Hiltner on banjo; Patrick McAvinue on fiddle; Molly Tuttle on guitar; Darren Nicholson on vocals; Kristin Scott Benson on banjo; Jon Stickley on guitar; Josh Haddix on guitar; Aaron Bibelhauser on banjo; Kimber Ludiker on fiddle; David Grier on guitar; Nick Dauphinais on harmony vocals; and Lindsay Pruett on fiddle.


Artist Profiles: Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss was born July 23, 1971 in Decatur, Illinois, but was raised in Champaign, Illinois. She began studying classical violin at five years old but soon switched to bluegrass. For Alison Krauss, musical collaboration has been a way of life. Her own story has been nothing short of amazing: signed to Rounder Records as a precocious 13-year-old fiddler from Champaign, Illinois, she has become the most recognized face in contemporary bluegrass, a critically acclaimed artist -who has brought modern sophistication to the genre while respecting its traditions.

She has also managed to sell upwards of 8 million records and garner 20 Grammy Awards, the most for any female artist in Grammy history. Yet Krauss has consistently worked to honor her influences, like contemporary bluegrass pioneer Tony Rice, to promote discoveries like the Cox Family, and to offer her skills as producer, most recently to country star Alan Jackson.

Alison Krauss

Krauss is apparently not one for taking time off. While Union Station took a hiatus after the 18-month tour to support the 2004 Alison Krauss and Union Station release Lonely Runs Both Ways, Krauss took full advantage of the down time to explore new musical horizons. Krauss reached that extraordinary 20 Grammy milestone when Lonely Runs Both Ways was named 2005’s Best Country Album. It wasn’t the only award she and her band-mates took home from the 48th Annual Grammys; “Unionhouse Branch” garnered Best Country Instrumental Performance and “Restless” received the Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group Award. She also received several Country Music Association Awards, including Musical Event of the Year for “Whiskey Lullaby” with Brad Paisley, originally released on Paisley’s Mud on the Tires and reprised on A Hundred Miles or More.

She produced Alan Jackson’s 2006 release, Like Red on a Rose, which the Chicago Sun-Times declared “a masterpiece,” taking the best-selling artist out of his familiar surroundings to create a moody, intimate song cycle that has been favorably compared to Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours.

She also produced and recorded five new tracks with long time engineer Gary Paczosa to complete her twelfth release, A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection, gathering on one elegantly understated disc previously released collaborations with such artists and friends as Brad Paisley, John Waite, James Taylor, Natalie MacMaster, and The Chieftains, along with songs she cut for the films Cold Mountain, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and an “inspired by” album for the animated The Prince Of Egypt. She also recorded and produced five new tracks, including a soulful slow-dance tempo of Don Williams’ “Lay Down Beside Me” with Rounder Records label-mate Waite, to create something far more than just a compilation.

With the new tracks (among them the current country single “Simple Love”) she created something far more than just a compilation. Across 16 songs, A Hundred Miles or More gracefully balances the new with the familiar to form a vivid portrait of this adventurous artist. In the same “year off, she began the then-undefined project with Plant and Burnett, recording initially in Nashville, then moving to Los Angeles to complete the project.

Krauss’ musical collaboration, Raising Sand, is a superb album recorded in tandem with rock vocalist and songwriter Plant. Scheduled for release on Rounder on October 23, 2007, ‘ Raising Sand is their first recorded endeavor, and will prove revelatory to fans and the media on two counts: first that it happened at all, and, more importantly, that it is as successful and illuminating as it is.

Under the careful sonic stewardship of producer T Bone Burnett, rising Sand’s pitched three steps beyond some cosmic collision of early urban blues, spacious West Texas country, and the unrealized potential of the folk-rock revolution. Shockingly evocative, it is an album that uncovers popular music’s elemental roots while sounding effortlessly, breath-takingly modern. Despite hailing from distinctly different backgrounds. Plant and Krauss share a maverick spirit and willingness to extend the boundaries of their respective genres.

Raising Sand finds Plant and Krauss functioning as sympathetic equals: creating a powerful new sound from both their common musical ground and their unrivaled sense of empathy.

While finishing touches were being done on Raising Sand, Krauss and her equally celebrated band Union Station were busy fulfilling one of their long-time dreams@a special tour with their friend, mentor and inspiration Tony Rice, performing material from his storied career. Alison and Union Station moved directly from the dates with Tony Rice to a national summer tour in support of A Hundred Miles or More. Billed as “An Evening with Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas,” it showcases material from the new disc, along with fan favorites.

I never had any big dreams about doing something on a huge scale,” Krauss reflects. “But I have dreamt about liking my records. That’s the kind of stuff I dreamt about.”

Alison Krauss and Union Station in 2011

In May 2012, Alison Krauss was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.


Different Strokes (Fiddle Tunes, 1985)
Too Late to Cry (Rounder Records, 1987)
Two Highways (Rounder Records, 1989)
I’ve Got That Old Feeling (Rounder Records, 1990)
Every Time You Say Goodbye (Rounder Records, 1992)
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, with The Cox Family (Rounder Records, 1994)
So Long So Wrong (Rounder Records, 1997)
Forget About It (Rounder Records, 1999)
New Favorite (Rounder Records, 2001)
Live (Rounder Records, 2002)
Lonely Runs Both Ways (Rounder Records, 2004)
Raising Sand, with Robert Plant (Rounder Records, 2007)
Paper Airplane (Rounder Records, 2011)
Windy City (Capitol Records, 2017)


Artist Profiles: Alison Brown

Alison Brown

Alison Brown was born August 7, 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut. She began her music career at a young age, playing banjo in several Southern California bands alongside fiddler Stuart Duncan as a teenager. After graduating from high school, bluegrass took a back seat while Brown attended Harvard University, earned an MBA, and worked as an investment banker.

Following successful tours with both Alison Krauss and Michelle Shocked, a Grammy-nomination for her first solo effort Simple Pleasures and the Banjo Player of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, Brown put her business skills to work, founding Compass Records in 1995 with her husband Garry West. Brown?s discography includes five releases on Vanguard Records as well as four on Compass Records.

In the late 1990s Brown founded NewGrange, together with Philip Aaberg, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Tim O’Brien and Todd Phillips. New Grange combines traditional American elements (folk, bluegrass, even gospel and classical) with contemporary instrumentation (strings and piano).

Alison Brown

Brown’s first record on Compass was Out of the Blue. On her next album, Fair Weather, Brown is joined by special guests like Tim O’Brien, Claire Lynch, Vince Gill, Stuart Duncan, David Grier, and others, returning to her bluegrass roots with stunning results. The 2000 release includes the Grammy Award-winning track “Leaving Cottondale,” featuring Bela Fleck.

In 2002, during two days between performances at the Grand Ole Opry and a trip to the Shetland Folk Festival, the Alison Brown Quartet recorded Replay, a collection of 15 tracks recorded live in the studio. More than anything, this album is the sound of the Alison Brown Quartet relaxed and having a jamming good time in the studio. The album consists of a collection of “fans” favorites in the energetic, updated arrangements that have evolved onstage in the years since Alison Brown formed the Quartet. Produced by Garry West, Replay showcases Brown’s penchant for melodic flair. Her sound is both innovative and accessible and in Brown’s hands, her Appalachian instrument takes bluegrass, bebop and Hot Club swing into the stratosphere.

Alison Brown said about her 2005 album Stolen Moments: “For the first time, I feel like I’ve created a true hybrid sound that suggests its influences bluegrass, jazz, Celtic music but when taken as a whole isn’t any one of these things.” Among those playing on the album are bluegrass greats Sam Bush (mandolin) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle) as well as Irish maestros John Doyle (guitar) and Seamus Egan (flute), ex-Pretenders and Paul McCartney Band guitarist Robbie McIntosh and long time bandmate John R. Burr (piano). Also featured on the album are guest vocalists the Indigo Girls, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Andrea Zonn.

Brown tours internationally with the Alison Brown Quartet, has been a guest speaker at Harvard Business School, Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School and the University of Colorado Boulder, and served as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.

She is also a reputable record producer. She worked with Dale Ann Bradley, Peter Rowan, Quiles & Cloud, and Claire Lynch.


Simple Pleasures (Vanguard Records, 1990)
Twilight Motel (Vanguard Records, 1992)
Look Left (Vanguard Records, 1994)
Quartet (Vanguard Records, 1996)
Out of the Blue (Compass Records, 1998)
Fair Weather (Compass Records, 2000)
Best of the Vanguard Years (Vanguard Records, 2002)
Replay (Compass Records, 2002)
Stolen Moments (Compass Records, 2005)
Vanguard Visionaries, compilation (Vanguard Records, 2007)
Evergreen (Compass Records, 2008)
The Company You Keep (Compass Records, 2009)
The Song Of The Banjo (Compass Records, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Riley Baugus

Riley Baugus

Riley Baugus was born November 28, 1965 in North Carolina. He was brought up in a household where recordings of old-time music were often played, Riley developed a love and appreciation for traditional southern Appalachian music as a young child. He began playing the fiddle at age 10, and soon after was playing the guitar and banjo as well. Riley learned much of his music through visits with the elder traditional musicians in and around Grayson County in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, including fiddlers Tommy Jarrell and Robert Sykes, banjo player Dix man, and guitarist Paul Sutphin.

Riley has played with numerous old-time string bands, including the Red Hots, Backstep, the Old Hollow Stringband, and the Farmer’s Daughters. He also played with Cuttin’ Loose and Polecat Creek.

He has taught banjo, guitar, and fiddle at music camps all over the United States and has toured throughout Europe with Dirk Powell and Tim O?Brien, the Konnarock Critters, and Ira Bernstein. Riley’s singing is featured on the soundtrack of the iconic film, Cold Mountain. He makes his home near Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he works as a welder and blacksmith and builds old-time banjos.


Life Of Riley (Yodel Ay Hee, 2001)
Long Steel Rail (Sugar Hill Records, 2006)


A Chiseled Bluegrass Sound Grounded By Tradition

NewTown – Old World (Mountain Home Music, 2018)

The group NewTown has on tap Old World on the Mountain Home Music label and this sweet little bluegrass recording will certainly get the juices flowing. Following up on recordings Harlan Road and Time Machine, this Lexington, Kentucky based group gathers up all the goodness of bluegrass by way of fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar and still manages to put a fresh voice on the genre. Putting polish on NewTown’s bright sparkly sound is producer Barry Bales from Alison Krauss and Union Station fame.

NewTown members, fiddler and vocalist Kati Penn, banjo player and vocalist Jr. Williams, guitarist and vocalist Aaron Ramsey, bassist Travis Anderson and mandolin player Mitchell Cannon have crafted a fine sound that is grounded by tradition and set free from those traditions by degrees through their own sound. NewTown is fresh and inviting.

Opening with “Fly Away,” NewTown takes flight with Ms. Penn’s vocals sure to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, add in fiddle, guitar, mandolin and bass and all is right with the world.

Moving through tracks like “Evangeline,” “Heart of Stone,” “Laura Lee” and “Forgotten War” NewTown grows as sweet and comfortable as driving down a long road in a old truck with a good dog.

“The Harvest” is certainly a standout with soulful vocals and some brilliant fiddle lines, just as “Naomi Wise” shimmers bright and clear with Ms. Penn’s crystalline vocals against a truly twangy goodness.

Closing out with “Never Miss the Sun.” Old World wraps up potent mix that sure to snag fans.

Old World puts NewTown squarely on the musical map and we can’t wait to see where we’re going next.

Buy Old World