Acoustic quartet Che Apalache take a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border and sing in front of a wall separating the two countries in a newly released 16-minute video titled “Borderlands.” The group just scored a Grammy nomination for its 2019 album, Rearrange My Heart, which was produced by Béla Fleck and released in August.
In the “Borderlands” video, the group — North Carolina native Joe Troop and his bandmates Franco Martino, Martin Bobrik, and Pau Barjau — meet up with Randy Mayer from an Arizona church dedicated to keeping migrants from dying in the desert.
There are chilling sights along the way, including a coat snagged on razor wire at the border wall and street portraits of teenager José Antonio Rodriguez, who was shot and killed by a border patrol agent. Che Apalache play their music — a hybrid of traditional bluegrass, Latin folk, and other global sounds — wherever they go, including giving an impromptu performance of their anti-border wall song “The Wall,” with the structure looming in the background. Later, Mayer takes them to a spot in the desert where two teenagers perished, as well as to a courthouse where unauthorized border crossers are being sentenced en masse.
The Trump administration’s immigration policy has been a particular focus of Che Apalache’s activism, with singer Troop detailing the story of DACA recipient Moises Serrano in their song “The Dreamer.” “Now you and I can sing a song / And we can build a congregation / But only when we take a stand / Will we change our broken nation,” Troop sings in one verse. The song’s video was released in October and drives the powerful message home by retelling Serrano’s story.
“He’s every bit as much of a North Carolinian as me but, because he doesn’t have papers, because he’s undocumented, the trajectories of our lives have been vastly different,” Troop told Rolling Stone Country earlier this year.