Community, Latest News

From South America to North Carolina


When Joe Troop spent more than a decade in South America, he didn’t realize that his future bandmate was there as well.

But when Larry Bellorin was forced to seek asylum from his home in Monagas, Venezuela, and found work in North Carolina, the two would find each other and form the duo Larry & Joe.

On Sunday, they will be performing at Mountain Stage here in Morgantown.

Troop is a grammy-nominated musician out of North Carolina who grew up learning Appalachian folk music and old-time music. He formed what he called a “Latingrass” band, Che Apalache, which went on hiatus during the pandemic. At that time, he connected with Bellorin, a musician who excelled in Musica Llanera, or Plains music, in Venezuela.

Bellorin left Venezuela due to the threat of violence that he faced in his home country and was working in construction for seven years when the two connected.

“I was tipped off that Larry was in North Carolina and that he was working construction, and then someone sent me videos of him playing music and I couldn’t believe it,” Troop said in an interview with The Dominion Post. “I called him to participate in a residency that I had been offered in Durham at the end of 2021. He came to the residency and the audience just loved our first collaboration. It was fresh, we had an instant connection, and we got immediate standing ovations.”

The two made the duo their full-time job in 2022, and have been touring extensively since. This year alone they have 150 performances, crossing the country and landing here in Morgantown this weekend.

They also released their first album together, “Nuevo South Train,” a fascinating blend of traditional folk music from Venezuela and the American South. In the traditional Venezuelan song “Caballo Viejo,” Bellorin is playing the harp while Troop is on banjo. In the Bluegrass song “Roll in my Sweet Baby’s Arm,” you see Troop on banjo and Bellorin on maracas. Both give unique spins on these folk traditions.

Working to find ways to blend Appalachian folk music and Plains music has been an interesting endeavor for these two men. Both are string band music, so they are starting from a common ground. Beyond that, however, there are differences. Things like syncopation and the playing techniques require some flexibility to find a way to successfully blend the two.

“The common ground is folk traditions as an identity. You can hear the rootedness in these musics, and the way the people play them is at social gatherings. There’s a beautiful aesthetic that sort of encompasses the traditions,” Troop said. “We have this shared love of this way of life.”

Troop admits that when trying to combine the two traditions, some concessions have to be made.

However, he went on to say, “If you immerse yourself in another musician’s tradition and you spend time with that musician empathetically and with an open heart, you’re going to be influenced by them. We’re both doing that.”

You can see Larry & Joe at 7 p.m. Sunday at Mountain Stage at the Canady Creative Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at