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‘Larry & Joe’ bring Venezuelan and Appalachian folk music to WKU

Kayden Mulrooney
Karla Olmos and Luis Villarreal dance together to the last song of Larry Bellorín and Joe Troop’s concert in the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center in Bowling Green, KY on Aug. 31, 2023.

Musical duo Larry Bellorín and Joe Troop showcased their fusion of Venezuelan and Appalachian folk music on Thursday evening through the Potter College of Arts and Letters Cultural Enhancement Series. 

The two played a variety of instruments ranging from harp, banjo, fiddle, cuatro, maracas, guitar and the double bass. 

Bellorín spoke primarily in a Venezuelan dialect of Spanish, while Troop interpreted to the crowd what his partner was saying.

The duo combined Spanish and English in the lyrics of their songs. They took a non-traditional approach of playing the instruments in a setting not typically heard.

“I guarantee there is only one man on Earth (Bellorín) who can play bluegrass on the harp,” Troop said.

The duo was the opening act in the reimagined Cultural Enhancement Series supported by PCAL.

The Kentucky Folklife Program received a grant and partnered with PCAL to provide a musical guest, PCAL communications and event specialist and committee member of the Cultural Enhancement Series Jessica Luna shared. 

“I think it’ll impact students because students that haven’t heard Venezuelan or Appalachian music before will be able to hear it for the first time,” Luna said. “I think broadening their horizons to different types of music is a great way to learn about the world but also to experience a little extra culture.”

Tony Harkins, chair of the Cultural Enhancement Series committee, said he looked forward to the different experiences that the musical duo would offer students and how the Cultural Enhancement series provided those experiences. 

Troop explained to the crowd how important immigration reform is to them due to the experience  Bellorín faced when moving to the United States. Bellorín had to give up a career in music when he first moved to the United States eight years ago to move cinder blocks. 

“As of January of this year, he’s back to music, and this has become both of our full time jobs,” Troop said. 

News Reporter Maggie Phelps can be reached at [email protected]

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