Suwannee Hulaween Artist Spotlight on: Rising Appalachia


The sultry sisters in song, Rising Appalachia, will be lending their musical talents alongside names such as String Cheese Incident, Big Gigantic, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Greensky Bluegrass, and more.  Their music pulls from old school soul, traditional folk, and contemporary sounds to create their own signature mix.  Captivating audiences nationally with their distinct flavor, we asked Leah about where they draw their inspiration and what it’s like on the road.

Hulaween is going on right now! The pre-party starts tonight October 30th, and general admission begins tomorrow October 31st.  Tickets are available online or at the gate:

What is your favorite venue to play and why? 
We are most drawn to the radical underground arts collectives, tea houses, listening rooms, and streets of New Orleans!  However, we had an amazing show at Golden Gate Park last month at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.  I’d say one of my favorite shows in an uncomfortable but deeply important way was to perform at the Dekalb Juvenile Detention Center in Atlanta, Ga. It was one of the most pertinent examples of how music and art can be used as a tool to empower.  I believe that stands as one of our biggest missions, to learn all the ways that we can sound out out our songs in many of the places that they wouldn’t reach easily… to explore the purpose of music as a tool of healing.
What are you listening to at the moment? Any new artists inspiring you or a return to something you haven’t listened to in a long time? 
I am forever indebted and in love with Ani Difranco. I think she greatly influenced our generation in the folk music tradition…and her lyricism continues to ask difficult questions and tell real stories. She is a hero. Our touring van has a hilarious cd collection of old school hip hop (the Roots, Hieroglyphics, De La Soul, OutKast, ect), West African roots music (Tiamani Diabate, Rokia Traoere, ect), Trad Irish and Appalachian folk collections, and a lil’ Trevor Hall and crew. Its a fun mix of styles.
We are pretty tapped into the ole’ school.
What made or helped you to decide on the sound you play as Rising Appalachia?
We have slowly crafted a sound that to us feels like a living folk tradition. We have taken the myriad of musical influences that were spread across our upbringing (Appalachian folk, blues, jazz, southern hip hop, classical) and crafted those styles into our own voice. We work hard to create a musical palette that incorperates both a contemporary song writing and an homage to tradition. It’s forever being fine tuned to reach all the parts of sound that we want to reach.
Do you love to travel & be on the road or miss spending more time in a certain area?
I love to travel, and spent many years living and immersing myself in new places as a tool for learning. When Chloe and I began traveling with music it was an incredible gift because instead of arriving to a new place as a stranger, when you have an instrument in your hand you are welcomed in to share. It has offered a wealth of experience and cultural exchange that is unparalleled, and we are so grateful. That being said, the pace of contemporary touring is something that we are working hard to change. We want to explore the role of the troubadour and investigate performance being part of community connectivity. We are looking into longer residencies in places, touring by train, staying with farmers and families, and involving local organizations to help root us in the dynamics of the places that we play.
We love many places, but miss our friends and wild communities spread across the south.
What is the biggest driving force to that keeps you going and inspired?
Well, sometimes we get tired and our inspiration waivers…but
I think we all believe in the work that we are doing.  We believe in a strong human community, in the strength of the arts to bring about change, in the catharsis of music, joy, and dance parties.  We are deeply honored to find our gifts in music. It’s an age -old profession and skill that has a special place in cultures around the world.  And we love each other deeply. That helps a lot. We would never be able to accomplish this if the fabrics of our team were not tightly knit. We take turns holding each other up.