The Sound of Hybrid

Appalatin (Kentucky Arts Council)


By Kevin Gibson

Latin culture meets Appalachian culture from Kentucky? Yeah, that seems like trying to mix Menudo with bourbon. Interestingly, however, when it's music? It makes for a pretty interesting hybrid.

Appalatin is not only the name of a local six-piece band, but also the name this band has applied to its sound. Appalatin (the band) is made up of a handful of current Louisvillians who came here from South and Central America, along with a couple of Kentucky natives who had at some point visited Central and South America and soaked up enough culture to love the music.

Put these guys together? You've got Appalatin. Um, the sound and the band.

When the group's eponymous CD kicks off, it's all Latin music "Canta Mi Gente" and "Luna Llena" are both smooth, Latin cuts that are as danceable as they are hummable. But "Carro Loco" is an instrumental that blends a shuffling beat on maracas and bongos with some pretty mean blues harmonica.

That's when it really hits home.

"Vamos al Campo" also brings some blues home to roost, along with a folksy melody and some sweet acoustic guitars to further extend the meaning of the catch phrase Appalatin.

The transition between Spanish lyrics and English are as interesting as the transitions between musical styles, giving this ensemble a truly unique approach. One theme that seems to be a constant, however, is that the tunes all seem to be upbeat and positive.

"Spread the Love Around" is impossibly happy, and another tune in this collection that begs the listener's feet to move. "Pine Mountain Top" sounds like it should be straight ahead bluegrass and it does encompass this uniquely Kentucky approach but the rhythm is decidedly Latin.

Good stuff, wherever it may have originated, and well worth your time to take a listen.

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