Thu · November 21, 2019
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
World Cafe Live Philadelphia
$23 ADV / $28 DOS/ $70 VIP + Fees
Rising Appalachia Preshow Tour Package includes:
●One general admission ticket
●Early entry into the venue
●Access to an intimate preshow acoustic performance (2 songs)
●Special conversation with Rising Appalachia Band
●Collectible tour poster; signed by Rising Appalachia
●First access merchandise shopping
Mezzanine tickets may be assessed a higher service fee.https://www.worldcafelive.com/event/1866494/
Leah Song and Chloe Smith, founding sisters of Rising Appalachia, have long witnessed themselves – by both choice and coincidence – carrying harmony into settings of upheaval and discord. Soon after their eponymous release in 2006, the siblings moved to New Orleans to assist in rebuilding efforts following Katrina. There they gained not only a deeper sense of connection to the roots of American music, but also an abiding sense of purpose as musicians. The band, which has now grown to include musicians David Brown on upright bass and baritone guitar, and Biko Casini on world percussion, has settled into its stride and purpose through creating original music with a mission, rooted in the traditions of folk songs, storytelling, and grass roots activism. The band manages to meld traditions and genres the same way Leah and Chloe blend their voices; it’s casual, beguiling, and effortlessly singular.
As the name connotes, the band’s sound arises most directly from the old-time music traditions that were passed down from Leah and Chloe’s parents, who often took the young girls to fiddle camps and gatherings in the Appalachian Mountains. Their home was in a different setting altogether, though. It lay smack dab in the heart of urban Atlanta Georgia, a humble craftsman house where, on most afternoons, fiddle tunes and blues guitar still get played by their mother and father. The traditional melodies within can blend with the city’s other sounds: a passing car’s subwoofers shaking out deep drum and bass notes, and some accordion driven boleros from a soccer match down the road. It’s not hard, sitting on their porch, to understand where this band’s persuasive and powerful new genre of acoustic folk comes from – one that melds old-time music with a thick rhythm section, southern soul with West African instrumentation and an occasional Colombian love song thrown in. The diverse influences converge through the voices of Leah and Chloe, which go together as only two siblings’ can.
In addition to their original approach to their music, the band has embraced a similar independent spirit with their touring. Outside of many industry norms, they have built a significant, loyal following as evidenced by recent sold out shows across the U.S, Canada, Australia and throughout Europe. After years of performing in coffee shops and on the streets of New Orleans, Dublin, Florence and Stockholm, they have risen to grace stages such as Red Rocks, the Kennedy Center, the Vancouver Folk Festival, Urkult, Winnipeg Folk, Woodford and Envision festivals, Pickathon, Kate Wolf, among many others. In spite of a busy touring schedule, a manifesto known as the “Slow Music Movement” guides the band in deliberate and often anachronistic means of touring. In support of their last studio album, Wider Circles (2016), the band travelled the US by rail, and in then in 2017, they toured the gulf islands of British Columbia in a wooden sailboat named La Libertatia. Accompanied by a film crew and a hearty bunch of sailors, they played shows on farms across the islands in support of issues such as food justice, indigenous rights, and protecting clean water. The band routinely provides a platform for the causes local to the cities they play, and frequently incite their fans to gather with them in converting vacant or under-used lots into verdant urban orchards and gardens.
Both onstage and off, Rising Appalachia exudes a sense of rootedness, playful exploration, and inspired action. Their sound and message, such as revealed in the newest single, “Resilient,” suggest that voices and traditions, brought together through song, may be one of the saving graces to a world in distress. In a time when the fabric of community and culture often appear to be unraveling, their interweaving of music and mission, old traditions with new interpretations, creates an atmosphere of contagious hope and bliss.
One year later, Be Steadwell is in Tonal Park Studio recording her Queer Love Songs album, a culmination of her work as a musician and activist. Queer Love Songs offers a space beyond the politics, the trauma, and the oppression where marginalized folks still find time to fall in love.
“I'm a black, queer, woman, singer songwriter and I believe that everybody deserves a cheesy love song. That’s why I write queer pop. In some ways I think Trump made me gayer. In the past year I’ve felt truly afraid to live in this country. I wanted so badly to write a F*CK TRUMP song, but it wouldn’t come. It wasn’t empowering. I needed to laugh, and remind myself and my folks that we're so beautiful for loving the way we do. We take risks to love and we love against all odds.”
A daughter of Joni Mitchell, Sade, Sarah Vaughan and Sweet Honey, Be Steadwell was raised on soulful love songs. As a 13 year-old, she stumbled across Ani DiFranco’s “She says.” Steadwell listened again and again to the woman’s voice nearly whispering over intricate guitar picking. Slowly, quietly she realized, this song is about a woman’s love for another woman. For the first time, Steadwell saw herself in a love song. She found a moment of freedom in that song.
In 2009, Be Steadwell co-founded the queer hip-hop duo The Lost Bois. The Lost Bois offered a response to homophobic posturing of rap culture. Two self-proclaimed gay, awkward women, the Lost Bois rapped about feminism, wishing to be cooler, and striking out with girls. Be continued her musical career in solo work. Her albums Rainwater (2014), Notes (2015), Jaded (2016) and Breakup Songs (2017) expanded her work, incorporating pop, soul and folk influences with queer-affirming content. In the following years, Be travelled across the globe with only a loop pedal, her voice and her love songs.
In Queer Love Songs, Be reflects on the highs and lows of love with warm tones of nostalgia, butterflies, heartbreak and all the feelings that come with love. Be’s layers of buttery vocals melt over acoustic guitar, rhodes and playful drum beats. Her perspective as a queer, black woman is subtle- yet always present. “Sometimes”, a sweet and ernest love song reflects on an experience loving a gender non-binary partner. In “The Door”, a collaboration with folk icon Toshi Reagon, Be laments the end of a relationship. In "Gay Sex", Be presents a satirical response to a noxious political environment suggesting we all go home to have gay sex, dedicating it to fascists and homophobes everywhere. In “Netflix”, she considers the complications of love in the information age. Be speaks to a deeply troubling and relatable truth in her lyric: “Sex is elusive on a good night. Netflix is fucking up my sex life.”
Queer Love Songs offers laughter, catharsis and a breath of fresh air in spite of an atmosphere of violence and fear. Be’s courageous expression of emotion inspires and urges her audience to follow suit. If love is what makes us human, Be Steadwell offers Queer Love Songs as a reclamation of humanity.
World Cafe Live Philadelphia
3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104