Meet the host and producer for Music Matters, a new digital series from SDPB and Levitt at the Falls that explores the origins and inspirations of the musical artists performing this concert season at the Levitt Shell in downtown Sioux Falls. Watch the series on SDPB.org and Facebook.
Katy Beem: How do you prefer to identify what you do?
Apolonia Davalos: “I’m a filmmaker. That phrase embodies all forms of the medium: I work behind the scenes and on-camera as director, producer, writer, actress, and ultimate collaborator. When I was 17, I moved to New York after I graduated. I received my associate’s degree in film, theater and television from American Musical and Dramatic Academy, specifically the studio program in New York City.”
KB: Tell us about your past projects.
AD: “My first lead role was for a 2007 film from Reigning Star Pictures. I worked on several projects while living in Nashville: The Good Book, Providence, and Summer of ’67. I produced a short film called Children of War in 2015. It toured nationally and internationally in the film festival circuit. I love learning about things I do not know. At the time, I knew nothing about the coal mining industry.”
KB: How did you journey from New York to Nashville to Sioux Falls?
AD: “I’m on this personal quest. I have this belief the arts are everywhere. I love immersing myself and getting to know communities. My mother’s originally from the Midwest – Chicago. We traveled together – I do the performing arts; she does the culinary arts. We were like, ‘It’s time to discover a new place.’ She did some research – Sioux Falls was one of those top places to live, right? We drove from Nashville to Sioux Falls, and within a day, [we were] talking to people, breathing in this beautiful air, just falling in love. Within that day, we found a place to live and literally relocated here one week later.”
KB: And how did you come to work with the Levitt?
AD: “Oh, my gosh. The first season of The Levitt, I would go to the concerts. They have people from all over the world. I was, like, ‘They’re coming to the Midwest – look at this culture, celebration, dance.’ I went out dancing, having a great time. Nancy Halverson, the executive director of The Levitt was on stage singing, having a great time, killing it. I’m like, ‘Who is this? This is amazing.’ She comes down onto the main open floor and we’re dancing, right? Later that evening, she tells me that she actually is the executive director of The Levitt. I thought, ‘this is a beautiful opportunity to thank her.’ Two years later, I get a message from her that they’re looking for a spring host for Levitt In Your Living Room – since it was COVID, all the concerts were canceled. Vaney Hariri was the first host, who is amazing, and he’s also on the board of The Levitt. ‘Hey, we’re looking for new hosts. I remember you, and I would love to talk to you about it.’ I had a phone call with her, and I’m all about sharing people’s gifts. Celebrating and sharing them with the world.”
KB: And what can we look forward to with Music Matters?
AD: “What does the process look like? There’s a lot of new music, instruments, that people don’t know about. There’s a history towards everything and as we are the sum of our life experiences, there’s a story there, a value that we don’t know. Music is difficult, it’s a discipline. You’re creating something out of nothing, and that doesn’t just come from everywhere. It has your own particular spin, voice and originality. How do you manifest something that has this universal way of communication that everyone can relate to?
We’ll feature many different things – the Native American influence and tradition. Dallas Chief Eagle is one of the artists I look forward to interviewing. Lucas Hoge has traveled around with his music and done a lot with honoring our veterans. We have bands from Latin, African, and Celtic cultures. For each episode, we want to highlight a different way that people can be immersed. I’m working with SDPB’s Krystal Schoenbauer. We’re all in the trenches together, to find the story, bring it to life and create content worth sharing. I would hope the community sees the series and sees themselves, the artists, and they learn something.”
Watch for Music Matters on SDPB.org and Facebook.
Levitt at the Falls - Live Concerts on SD.net
Catch world-renowned musicians performing live from Levitt at the Falls throughout the summer on SD.net. All shows start at 6:30pm (5:30 MT) unless otherwise noted.
The Reminders – Friday, July 2 - Brussels-born emcee Big Samir and Queens-born emcee/vocalist Aja Black seamlessly blend soulful sounds and roots music with insightful messages and thoughtful lyrics.
East of Westreville – Saturday, July 3 - Tight-harmony, blues to bluegrass road trip, with a bit of country gospel and old-timey folk with local musicians Kaija Bonde, Brian Bonde, Al Slaathhaug, joined by fiddler Owen Dejong.
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba – Thursday, July 8 - An ecstatic exploration of the spiritual songs, stories, and rhythms of Senegal’s millennia-old Mandé culture.
Rhythm Collective – Friday, July 9 - Original reggae and calypso tunes as well as classic island reggae of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Byron Lee Soca and other calypso party tunes.
Chastity Brown – Saturday, July 10 - A melding of folk, pop and soul weaving together a poet’s lyrical ear and a soul-laid-bare quality.
Jocelyn & Chris – Thursday, July 15 - With vocal comparisons to Janis Joplin and guitar work likened to Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour, Jocelyn & Chris charted three consecutive radio singles in the Billboard AAA Top 40.
Ring of Kerry – Friday, July 16 - Bursting-with-energy Irish music group joined by a troupe of Irish step dancers for a show that is exciting, beautiful, and fun.
Nur-D – Saturday, July 17 - Radiates the power of positivity and hits you with honest lyrics and pop culture punchlines.
Pert Near Sandstone – Thursday, July 22 - Defies conventional boundaries of string band music, mixing punk rock energy with Celtic traditionalism and bluegrass virtuosity, with fierce and self-assured lyrics to match.
Southern Avenue – Friday, July 23 - Boundary-breaking, electrifying Memphis combo that carries the Southern soul legacy into the 21st century.
Wild Earp – Saturday, July 24 - Earp croons country tunes, mixing pensive trail songs with jumping rockabilly, red hot honky tonk, broad western soundscapes, and sometimes ventures into the dark corners of folk.
The Steel Wheels – Thursday, July 29 - Roots music from fan favorites based in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Foxies – Friday, July 30 - A modern power trio built on thrashing punk energy and the hypnotic pageantry of electronic pop.
Esencia Latina Band – Saturday, July 31 - Contagious salsa music and big band sound from a dynamic group of 13 professional musicians.