The Center for the Arts is thrilled to present the gorgeous sounds of Rising Appalachia in the Marisa Funk Theater on April 11, 2023. Founded by sisters Leah and Chloe Smith, Rising Appalachia established an international fan base due to relentless touring, tireless activism, and no small degree of stubborn independence.
Remarkably, the band has built its legion of listeners independently – a self-made success story that has led to major festival appearances and sold-out shows at venues across the country. They have toured British Columbia by sailboat, traversed the U.S. and Europe by train, and engaged in immersive cultural exchange programs in Bulgaria, Ireland, Southern Italy, Central and South America – not to mention the countless miles in a van, all to inform and create their unique sound along the way.
Leah and Chloe grew up in urban Atlanta as the city’s hip-hop scene began to flourish. They absorbed those rhythms through the music they heard at school, then traveled with their family to fiddle camps all across the Southeast on the weekends. The young girls weren’t all that interested in the old-time playing, but their parents prioritized diversity and cultural richness and as such, Leah and Chole were incredibly devout in their study and practice of Appalachian music, developing an affinity for the forests, groves and hidden treasures of rural Appalachia.
After moving to New Orleans in 2007, the sisters sought to assist in the process of healing and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, collaborating on restoration education and post-storm artistic offerings with the organization Alternate Roots. They bore witness to New Orleans’ resolve post-Katrina, Leah and Chloe solidified their voice as grown women, and their embryonic songs came to life, while cutting their teeth busking in the French Quarter. Performing music was just one component of a greater overall vision – one that includes advocating for social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, and Indigenous rights.
“We’re able to filter in so many of our passions into this project,” Chloe says. “We do a lot of activism work. We do a lot of outreach. Leah is a visual artist and she can funnel her visual eye into the project. I love to write, so that comes in. There’s a big container and canvas for our life’s work here. Music is part of it, but there are a lot of other creative vehicles that are driving Rising Appalachia.”
For their seventh studio album Leylines, they opted to bring in legendary producer Joe Henry, ushering in their first recording sessions outside of the South. The album title alludes to the concept of invisible lines believed to stretch around the world between sacred spaces, bonded by a spiritual and magnetic presence. That deep sense of connection is key to understanding Rising Appalachia as a whole. Although Leah and Chloe Smith consider their voices as their primary instrument, Leah also plays banjo and bodhran on the album, while Chloe plays guitar, fiddle, and banjo. They are joined on Leylines by longtime members David Brown (stand-up bass, baritone guitar) and Biko Casini (world percussion, n’goni), as well as two new members: West African musician Arouna Diarra (n’goni, talking drum) and Irish musician Duncan Wickel (fiddle, cello). Special guests on Leylines include folk hero Ani DiFranco, soulful songwriter Trevor Hall, and jazz trumpeter Maurice Turner, a sense of unity and immediacy can be heard throughout the album.
In January 2021, with the pandemic in full swing neither Rising Appalachia nor Preservation Hall, a quintessential pilgrimage in the birthplace of Black American music, were staging events with live audiences. Instead, the band was invited to collaborate with the distinguished institution and produce a livestream concert. A medicinal balm broadcasted to their fans around the globe, the lasting effects of that salve are preserved on the group’s 2022 latest release, Live at Preservation Hall – a love letter to their “soul home” NOLA, infused with their signature southern spirit.
Don’t miss this intimate night of musical catharsis with Rising Appalachia’s elixir of global soul at The Center for the Arts on April 11, 2023.
WHAT: Rising Appalachia
WHERE: The Center for the Arts | 314 West Main Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945
WHEN: April 11, 2023 | Doors 7:00 pm Show 8:00 pm
TICKETS: $40-50 | thecenterforthearts.org
WEBSITE & INFO: http://bit.ly/3Xconev or (530) 274-8384
Since 2000, The Center for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization, has grown into a leading presenter of music, dance, theater, comedy, literary and visual art, and family programming, offering more than 150 events per year from its location in downtown Grass Valley. The Center recently completed a major renovation of its multiuse, 21,000-square-foot facility in downtown Grass Valley, making it a premier performing arts destination. The venue includes the Main Stage, which accommodates up to 492 guests in configurable theater seats and up to 700 patrons for dance shows, and a 90-seat studio theater.