There was a lot of buzz about Rising Appalachia, at least in my circle of Door County friends. Everybody was intrigued by the tattooed, sultry sisters on the cover of the Door Community Auditorium program, and wondered what it would be like to see them perform. Nobody really knew what to expect, we just knew we wanted to go.
It’s a good thing we did – the show was great.
Sisters Leah and Chloe Smith make up Rising Appalachia, plus a handful of musicians that sometimes join them for shows. Leah and Chloe grew up in the South surrounded by music and arts, and have spent the last few years in New Orleans.
Their music is at once modern and traditional, moving and silly. The instrumentation was simple and beautiful, and their voices melted together the way only sisters’ voices can.
For me, the Rising Appalachia show was more about feeling than listening. The music took us from a front porch in Georgia to the Irish countryside, a swanky bar in New Orleans and the mountains of Bulgaria. And many of the songs had a message, be it about heartbreak, culture or the environment.
My favorite song of the night was Scale Down, the title track from one of their albums. The song was written about the mountaintop removal done in coal country in the Southeast U.S. and it’s poignant and inspirational.
I’d have to say Long Haul was a crowd favorite. It was written by Chloe after she had been through a bit of heartbreak. Leah helped her get through the pain by giving her a box of thrift store plates and these instructions: throw these plates against the wall. Soon, the plates were broken, Leah was over the heartbreak and an awesome song was written.
I’ve spent a lot of time at the Auditorium this summer, and it’s certainly not over, but Rising Appalachia carved a special spot in my memory. If you ever get a chance to see Rising Appalachia, the experience is not one to miss.
If you don’t believe me, check out some reactions I heard from the audience in the lobby after the show:
“I could have sat in that chair all night and listened.”
“My sister would love Rising Appalachia, especially the song Caminando. I’ll be right back, I have to buy her a CD.”
“Their voices are so clear, I haven’t heard anything like it.”