FolkWorld #71 03/2020
© Devon Léger / Hearth PR

Article in Spanish

Across the Western Ocean

Che Apalache: The Dreamer

Che Apalache release music video for lead single “The Dreamer”. Video and song feature the story of North Carolina DACA recipient/activist Moisés Serrano.

Acclaimed Latingrass band Che Apalache have released the official music video for their lead single, “The Dreamer,” off their new album Rearrange My Heart, released recently on Free Dirt Records. The video was directed by documentary filmmaker Matt Durning and was inspired by the life story of Moisés Serrano, a noted activist from North Carolina. Serrano’s also the subject of the song and a friend of Che Apalache band leader Joe Troop. Born in Mexico, and brought to the United States as an infant, Serrano grew up in Yadkin County, North Carolina. Troop and Serrano bonded early on over their shared North Carolina roots, as well as the struggles both encountered as queer activists in the rural South.

The video is a powerful statement of love and courage in the face of systemic oppression, a moving tribute to Serrano and the countless undocumented immigrants who have built their lives in this country. Based on Serrano’s story, the video also weaves in elements of true stories of undocumented families in North Carolina who have been torn apart by deportation. Serrano was the subject of the recent documentary Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America and is a noted undocumented activist and storyteller in his home state, working for immigration reform and human rights. With the US Supreme Court about to hear arguments on DACA cases, the topic of immigration is foremost on many people’s minds.

NPR featured the video as part of their Alt.Latino playlist, the second time they’ve featured this song by Che Apalache. “While I was impressed by the song's very moving, real-life story of a DACA recipient from North Carolina ("a true son of the South"), I am moved beyond words by the new video. It's a powerful combination that must be shared.” -Felix Contreras, NPR’s Alt.Latino

Che Apalache

Artist Video Che Apalache @ FROG

Moisés Serrano wrote the script and crafted the story for the music video based on real life experiences. The video was shot in and around Hillsborough, North Carolina. Director Matt Durning assembled a team of 20+ local film professionals to create the visually arresting music video, all of whom donated their time, resources, and talents to make the project a success. The filmmakers cast two local families who were inspired by these stories to portray the young Serrano family in the video’s narrative sequences and all of them delivered shockingly powerful performances. Along with the video, Serrano and Che Apalache are encouraging viewers who are moved by this story to take action and support organizations that help undocumented people in North Carolina:,,

"The song, The Dreamer, is for the over one million undocumented youth and DACA recipients who have had to grow up learning how to live and love in a country that is actively trying to deport them. The music video, The Dreamer is for the millions of undocumented and immigrant families affected by our racist immigration laws." -Moisés Serrano

“We are incredibly grateful to the crew that volunteered their time and talent in their commitment to sharing Moisés’ story,” says Troop and members of Che Apalache. “We hope this video will draw attention to the harsh realities faced by Latin American Immigrants in North Carolina. It is time for us all to stand up for their right to safety and well-being.”

Che Apalache have also just returned from the US / Mexico border where they toured border facilities, took a walk through the Arizona desert where many migrants have perished, and performed for a soup kitchen and shelter in Nogales, Mexico. This trip brought them in contact with the harrowing conditions of migrants now looking to cross the border, and fired up their interest in amplifying these voices that so often go unheard.

Che Apalache: Rearrange My Heart

Moisés Serrano is an openly undocumented and queer activist and storyteller. Since coming out as undocumented in 2010, he has relentlessly pursued equality for his community through the sharing of his narrative. His mission is to de-criminalize and humanize the issue of migration while advocating for immediate relief to migrant communities. Moisés quickly became one of the most requested speakers in the state of North Carolina. Described as a “consummate orator,” his advocacy has led him to lead a Tedx talk in Greensboro and to be named a notable Latino of the triad. Moisés’ advocacy has been filmed in the feature length documentary, Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America. The five-time award winning film was recently honored by the Television Academy. “Forbidden” was one of seven programs honored for creating awareness, enlightening, educating and/or positively motivating audiences. Moisés officially became a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in May of 2018.

Che Apalache: Latin Grass

Immigration is a powerful topic for Che Apalache bandleader Joe Troop. A polymath, polyglot, and world traveller, Troop left home at a young age, emigrating from this country in search of a better life. 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, Joe 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 – two from Argentina, Franco Martino (guitar), Martin Bobrik (mandolin), and one from Mexico, Pau Barjau (banjo) – and has 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, coming August 9, 2019 on Free Dirt Records. It’s a success story, but Troop hasn’t returned to the States after over a decade abroad to comfort listeners. He’s here to challenge the narrative, to speak directly on what American policies and perspectives are doing to the world.

Nominated for Best Folk Album at the 2020 Grammys, Che Apalache brought Moisés Serrano to walk the red carpet in Los Angeles with them -- at a time when the Supreme Court has been working to decide his fate and the fate of all DACA recipients! National Public Radio (NPR) has placed Che Apalache's song "The Dreamer" on two of their best of lists for 2019. For Best Songs of 2019, NPR Music Senior Director Lauren Onkey said the song is "so moving and relevant and flat out useful for the times we live in that it upends any preconceptions about what bluegrass can contain." NPR Alt.Latino's Stefanie Fernández listed the songs as one of 10 Songs that Rallied Resistance Around the World and said "Che Apalache gives the swell of Americana to the undocumented of North Carolina and their stories, as American as the hills."

Photo Credits: (1ff) Che Apalache (unknown/website).

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