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Che Apalache with Circus No. 9

Sunday, September 15, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Just in time to get in the spirit of IBMA’s World of Bluegrass and PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass, join PineCone and Midtown Events for an afternoon of bluegrass with two exciting young bluegrass bands in North Hills! Che Apalache began as a bluegrass band, but eventually incorporated Latin American styles into their repertoire. Combining instrumental prowess with tight vocal harmonies, they have curated an authentic blend of genres to reflect the nature of their lives, evoking images from Appalachia to the Andes. Their most recent album, Rearrange My Heart, is produced by banjo legend Béla Fleck. Kicking off the afternoon will be Circus No. 9, one of the most exciting new bands on the acoustic music scene today and one of IBMA’s Momentum Band of the Year nominees this year. And be sure to come out early for the all-ages pre-show bluegrass jam with Russell Johnson, AND the North Carolina Pork Council’s Whole Hog Cookoff!

Che Apalache is a four-man string band based in Buenos Aires with members from Argentina, Mexico and the United States. Evoking images from Appalachia to the Andes, their debut album, Latingrass, is a testament to a powerful cultural and musical exchange. The group’s founder is Joe Troop, a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and composer 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, Troop 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: Franco Martino (guitar) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin) – both from Argentina, and Pau Barjau (banjo) from Mexico. Together, they have 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, which is available now on Free Dirt Records. 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 14 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.

Circus No. 9 is a progressive bluegrass outfit from East Tennessee that blurs the lines between bluegrass, jazz, and rock. Described as “John Hartford meets John Coltrane,” the group has appeared alongside artists including David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Larry Keel, among others. Circus No. 9 was also an official showcase band during IBMA’s 2018 World of Bluegrass. “Circus No. 9 represents everything that’s good about the new generation of acoustic music. These guys already exhibit a maturity and musicianship that has me thinking we’re going to be hearing great stuff from them for a long time!” says Bryan Sutton. Banjo extraordinaire Matthew Davis is the winner of both the National Banjo Championship and the Rockygrass Banjo Contest, not to mention the achievement of his musical chops at just age 18.  Davis has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, among other venues and shows around the country. On the mandolin is Virginia’s own Thomas Cassell, a now Tennessee transplant.  Cassell is the winner of the 2016 Rockygrass Mandolin contest, and he has performed on stage beside artists including the Bryan Sutton Band, Billy Strings, and more. Holding down the low end for the band is Knoxville’s Vince Ilagan, also holding a Bass Performance degree from the University of Tennessee and years of studio and touring experience. Ilagan has performed with artists including Justin Townes Earle, Jeff Sipe, Scott Miller, and many others. Ben Garnett is a Nashville-based guitarist, composer, improviser, and educator. Originally from Arlington, TX, he graduated from the University of North Texas in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies.  A product of his 21st-century upbringing, Garnett embraces a genre-bending, “in the cracks,” musical aesthetic, fluently drawing on the traditions of folk, jazz, bluegrass, classical, and rock music in his compositions and improvisations.

Pre-show Jam – All Ages Welcome

If you play guitar, bass, mandolin, fiddle, or banjo, or even if you don’t play an instrument and you just want to sing along, this jam is for you! Starting at 2 p.m., join us for a pre-show bluegrass jam – participants of all ages and abilities are welcome. Russell Johnson returns as jam facilitator this month. Johnson is an award winning singer and songwriter who has performed in multiple bands throughout his career, including his current band, Diamond Creek. He has worn several different hats in the music business: singer, songwriter, producer, mandolinist, recording and sound engineer, band leader, and record label and studio owner. He is also the director of the Carolina Bluegrass Band at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Johnson grew up on a farm in rural Four Oaks, North Carolina, and his first exposure to bluegrass was from an older brother. Johnson got his first mandolin as a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982, and his first “official” show was in August of 1989. A compelling songwriter, Johnson has charted more than 30 original songs, with 13 landing on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey, ​including four #1 singles for The Grass Cats.) The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) has nominated him three times for Songwriter of the year and as a producer, he has nine Top Ten CDs to his credit. As band leader and front man for two popular bands, Johnson has performed throughout much of the United States and Canada. In 1989, he formed New Vintage, and they went on to win the Pizza Hut International Bluegrass Showdown and the SPBGMA National Band contest, both in 1993. With this success they became a mainstay on the bluegrass festival circuit and charts for much of the ’90s. They recorded five projects, including three Top Ten CDs for Pinecastle Records. Johnson started The Grass Cats in 1997 with other local pickers as a “pick up band” to play small local events. When New Vintage stopped performing in October of 2000, he focused his efforts on The Grass Cats, and they released nine CDs together. Today, Johnson’s primary band is Diamond Creek. 

Whole Hog Barbecue Cookoff

Also at this month’s concert, the NC Pork Council will host one of their Whole Hog Barbecue Cookoff qualifying events, featuring 10 – 15 cookoff teams competing and a chance to make it into the championship event, which will take place during the IBMA’s PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass festival at the end of this month. As part of the Pork Council’s annual Whole Hog Barbecue Championship Series, this event will feature a Whole Hog Barbecue Cookoff before the concert gets started! Winners will be announced at 2:30 for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as the “best sauce” winner. And if you enjoy barbecue, members of the nonprofit Blue Knights will be selling off the pork after the contest is over.

Parking and event information

The closest parking decks are Midtown Plaza Parking Garage One on Church Street and Midtown Plaza Parking Garage One on Market Street, across from the Harris Teeter. There will be off-duty officers directing traffic the day of the event. Please note that the streets immediately adjacent to the park will be closed to through traffic during the concert. Download parking map for Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park

Bring your own picnics, chairs, and blankets; pets on leashes are welcome! No alcohol permitted – drinks will be available to purchase on-site (with proper i.d.).

This year’s series is sanctioned by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). Support for this series also comes from The Cardinal at North Hills and Clancy & Theys.

The International Bluegrass Music Association, or IBMA, is the non-profit music association that connects, educates, and empowers bluegrass professionals and enthusiasts, honoring tradition and encouraging innovation in the bluegrass community worldwide.


Sunday, September 15, 2019
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park
4011 Cardinal at North Hills
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