Article and Photos by: Matt Guevara
NORTHAMPTON, MA — Rising Appalachia, led by sisters Leah and Chloe Smith, is known widely for their sensual spoken word and instrumental sounds, and their ability to bring people together, creating a sense of community through their art. Their sound is calm, emotional, and has a strong, healing vibe, and They emphasize this with recurring themes of its medicinal qualities and spirituality laced throughout their work. The group is touring with different artists scattered among their tour dates, each complimenting a different aspect of the band’s sound. For this leg of the tour, hip hop group Kuf Knotz was opening, helping to accentuate the nuances of Rising Appalachia’s spoken word.
Kuf Knotz, the hip hop duo from Brooklyn, explores a wide range of sounds in their work, leaving no stone unturned as far as exploring musical influences. Taking the best parts of genres such as reggae, pop, folk, and rock, they create an almost universal sound on stage. Among my favorites from Kuf Knotz were the “wet” vocals of “Never Give Up”.(It’s okay, the audience got a good laugh out of that one too) The song featured a catchy hook, solid instrumentals, and stellar vocals that, to me, balance spoken word and singing perfectly. If you get a chance, I strongly suggest you see them live. If you like hip hop you’ll definitely like Kuf Knotz and if you don’t, there’s a very real chance that you will after listening to them.
Rising Appalachia is part folk, part spoken word, part soul, and all talent. I’ll admit that, at first, I was skeptical of the spirituality in their music that is so often praised by their fans. After seeing them live though, I can see what people mean when they talk about the bands healing quality. While sounding vaguely like a National Public Radio special, they really do give off an indescribable sense of empowerment. My(and, I suspect, many others’) favorite song from their set, “Medicine”, is a great example of the spirituality present in their music as well. Overall, whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not, definitely check out Rising Appalachia.