Joe Troop is a wildly creative force blending latin and american roots music usually with a social justice lense. Joe founded Che Apalache in Buenos Aires, Argentina while teaching bluegrass and old-time music there. The band went on to record two albums; most recently, Rearrange My Heart ,which was nominated for a Grammy Award.
During the pandemic, Joe spent his time and energies learning from activists, workers, poets and dreamers while traveling the rural backroads of the american south. Joe spent some of his boundless energy and enthusiasm in causes that are important to folks in these neglected rural areas. He learned from activist leaders like Baldemar Velasquez from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to Dreama Caldwell who led the effort to raise the issue of cash bail’s insidious impact on people of color. These and many more were part of Joe Troop’s “Pickin’ For Progress” campaign aimed to get out the vote among rural progressives.
Somehow, Joe found the time and energy to record his first solo album ,”Borrowed Time” which was recorded in sessions in Durham,NC and Nashville, Tn. It seems the lessons learned from these campaigns have informed Joe Troop’s songwriting because these songs brim with passion and conviction. They also convey hope despite the themes of climate change, racial division, corporate take-overs of social movements, and continued inhumane immigration policies. The protest songs here have all been backed up with concrete actions. Documentaries and videos were produced, voter turnout and education campaigns made these issues real. Folks with very little power or influence were represented and highlighted.
In the end, it’s about the music and the power of song. “Borrowed Time” documents the possibilities that underrepresented people can have dignity and their voices can be heard. We begin the segment with Che Apalache’s song “The Wall” followed by a brand new song from “Borrowed Time” called “Love along the Way” which features Tim O’Brien. The song is a call for unity which claims “good hearted people doing the best they can with a messed-up system that don’t give a damn.” After a spirited discussion and just a few rants, we finish the segment with Joe’s radio premiere of “Horizon” which details our planet’s challenging climate crisis. Che Apalache’s song “The Dreamer” which documents our tangled dubious immigration policies finishes the segment.
I hope you enjoy the segment as much as I did because as Joe’s been quoted “music with a good cause is more fun.”