Basic Folk 229 – Rising Appalachia

Sisters Leah Song & Chloe Smith grew up in Urban Atlanta, they also lived in New Orleans and outside of Asheville. The pair are deeply rooted in their Southern identity as evidenced in their band, Rising Appalachia. Although their parents are not professional musicians, music was a constant part of the family. Their parents were dedicated students of early Appalachian music. The sisters played music everyday, were classically trained, attended fiddle camps and music festivals among other musical activities. The sisters developed their own taste in Atlanta’s 90s rap underground scene. There was a time when the two didn’t want anything to do with their parents’ music, however, eventually they came back to it and decided to pursue Appalachian music thanks to some time spent away living in Mexico.

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Aside from music, activism and purpose remain very important to Rising Appalachia. Leah’s idea for “The Slow Music Movement” came out of the desire to sustain the troubadour lifestyle over participating in the traditional touring musician industrial complex. While touring, the band requests local food in their rider, invite tabling from non-profits, and work to create relationships with the local community. They also will seek out alternative methods of transportation: trains or smaller vehicles that use non-fossil fuels. Rising Appalachia has been known to do hub shows where they stay for a few days and create relationships with the community. This past July, they hosted Catalyst, their first annual music art and education festival in Asheville. Leah and I dug into how being musicians helped them create a space where artists felt welcome and taken care of. We also talk about Chloe’s new baby and how touring might be looking different this fall. Check them out and their latest album, Live At Preservation Hall.

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