Repurposeful Rising Appalachia

Sisters weave folk and bluegrass with jazz, hip-hop, and Southern gospel

Rising Appalachia
  • Rising Appalachia
  • DN Photos

“I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’/ Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.”

Sisters Leah and Chloe Smith

Sisters Leah and Chloe Smith

Not surprised to hear Bob Dylan early in the soundtrack of Ken Burns’s new Vietnam War documentary, episode one. Even though the song “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was recorded in 1962 and aimed dissent at the Cuban Missile Crisis, it spoke for Vietnam protests as well. “I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans/ I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard.”

One acoustic guitar, strummed, and the creaky voice of Dylan, along with so many other folk singers, became a force that sought to redirect U.S. global policy and right its cultural wrongs. And for a time, it worked. “And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard/ And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”

Past Event

Rising Appalachia

  • Saturday, October 14, 2017, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+

Rising Appalachia comes with the same basic ideals held by the folk generation of the ’60s, that music has the power to make change. They are two sisters from the South, Leah and Chloe Smith, and they’ve been at it for a bit over a decade now.

I’ll admit to being a pushover for good bluegrass — especially the kind of guitar or mandolin picking that sounds as if about to go off the rails at any minute but manages somehow to hang on. What the sisters do is repurpose that old music with jazz extensions, hip-hop rhythms, and Southern gospel. Their collective take on the body of traditional work within the roots and folk genres they favor serves to breathe new life into a surprising book of standards and covers.

The sisters are self-produced and for the most part, self-funded. They started the Slow Music Movement and, as their forebears support the American farmer, Rising Appalachia supports — what else? — permaculture.

Gill Landry also performs.

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