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.
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“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.