April 1st, 2010
The first time I heard about the Carolina Chocolate Drops was just last week in an article that noted their latest album, Genuine Negro Jig, which came out in February. Hailing from North Carolina, Justin Robinson, Rhiannon Giddens, and Dom Flemons are retro in the best possible way – they indulge themselves in the banjo-fiddle traditions of the Piedmont area of North Carolina. All were in their 20s when the band was born in 2005 and they adopted fiddle player Joe Thompson, who is in his 90s, as their collective mentor.
Piedmont saw many blacks settle there and the musical traditions of the region developed as both blacks and whites traded songs and styles. The band chose a name which highlights the fact that they are black and in their concerts they try to emphasize that theirs is the music of the black community. This no doubt means informing audiences of whatever color that the banjo isn’t a “white instrument” and that blacks have a long tradition of string music that isn’t particularly well-known. I heard an interview with the band in which Giddens noted that their audiences are mostly white but that the number of black people attending shows is slowly growing. It seems that blacks acknowledging that they like string music (or “country” music) is a bit of a social faux pas as the genre is considered to be the domain of whites. Hopefully the Carolina Chocolate Drops can help break down this barrier.
This recording was made on 3 October 2009 at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s a nice soundboard show of that night’s first set.
Peace Behind The Bridge
Don’t Get Trouble In Your Mind
Old Cindy Gal
Two Time Loser
Old Corn Liquor
Short Life of Trouble
Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad
This is the band on French TV mixing the old string style with contemporary R&B in a cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘em Up Style (Oops!)”.