Rising Appalachia

Rising Appalachia
City Winery New York, NY
January 7 2017

 

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Rising Appalachia took the stage as two women who harmonized together a capella. They were singing a song of the south, of the river, of Appalachia. It reminded me of the scene in O Brother Where Art Thou where they were wandering through the woods in search of the sirens who sang down by the river “Going Down to the River to Pray…” They passed the lead vocal between them, rhythmically weaving together and apart and together again, playfully.

Rising Appalachia are performing music of the South, proud southerners spending their lives figuring out how to create music that tells the true story of the culture and heritage of the rich social justice that is the South. They are spending their lives figuring out the pathways of the music.

For the second song they were joined on stage by percussion, bass and a stringed instrumentalist (picking up different instruments from time to time it seemed), fleshing out a full ensemble. They paint a picture of southern humidity, of dark nights. The vocals alternated between spoken word and vocal harmony here, attempting to elicit a spooky vibe. I’m not sure that I believed it fully but they have a vibe for sure.

The sisters grew up in Savannah, steeped in the traditions of the south. They are spinning their influences from the southern Appalachian influences to cajun and creole music picked up from the western south. They sent out the next song to Etta James and everyone making up the band up in heaven. By the third song I found myself wishing for a greater level of diversity in the vocal harmony as the sisters fell into certain harmonic patterns. Luckily the instrumentation supplied some variation as they veered from the swamp into what felt like an Irish jig.

I’m not sure if it was me or them, but I did not find the music to be as engaging as I wished it would be. To me it wasn’t enough just to have the southern sound, I yearned for more engaging song writing to showcase their talents.  I felt that the instrumentalists were deferring to the vocalists, instead of pushing and driving the band.  Hand percussion was cool but the whole band lacked the rhythmic drive I was seeking in the music.

Suffice it to say I was disappointed.  I’m not sure if it’s a reaction to the huge buzz surrounding the band and the huge lack of buzz from their performance or something else.  At times the banter was preachy and disjointed.  Frankly I just found the whole performance to be lazy and boring, like they weren’t even trying.  But that’s just me, many seemed to enjoy it and that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla, and rocky road.  I hope to see them again someday and see if it was just me, or to understand it better on a second try.

 

 

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com

Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.

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