Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Carolina Chocolate Drops on their way to Montreal

The Carolina Chocolate Drops, one of the most exciting string bands to emerge in many years, will be performing their first Montreal concert Thursday, July 14, 8:00 pm, at Petit Campus (57 Prince Arthur East).

For info or tickets, call Hello Darlin' Productions at 514-524-9225.

Since forming six or seven years ago, the Carolina Chocolate Drops have been at the forefront of the revival and revitalization of African American stringband music, a rich form of traditional music that had been largely forgotten in recent decades.

I’ve seen the Carolina Chocolate Drops several times at folk festivals and have loved their unique blend of traditional music with contemporary sensibilities – both on stage and on their series of excellent CDs. Their latest full length CD, Genuine Negro Jig, won the Grammy this year for Best Traditional Folk Album.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are coming to Montreal with a revised line-up from the version of the band that I know from CDs and folk festivals. That version was a trio featuring Rhiannon Giddons, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson.

Justin recently left the band and original members Rhiannon and Dom have been joined by human beatboxer Adam Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins. The buzz I’ve heard indicates version 2.0 of the Carolina Chocolate Drops is every bit as exciting as the original trio.

By the way, the band name, Carolina Chocolate Drops, is a nod to the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, an African American stringband that played and recorded in the 1930s. I had the opportunity to get to know three of the Tennessee Chocolate Drops – Carl Martin, Ted Bogan and Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, all of whom have since passed away – when they reformed as Martin, Bogan and Armstrong in the 1970s.

Here’s my Montreal Gazette review of the first Carolina Chocolate Drops album from June 21, 2007.

Dona Got A Ramblin’ Mind
Music Maker

There’s been a strong revival of old-time music over the past several years and one of the most exciting groups to emerge is the Carolina Chocolate Drops. This trio of young African American musicians takes much of their inspiration from the almost-forgotten traditions of black fiddle and banjo-based music from the Piedmont region of the American Southeast. Their very impressive debut CD is highlighted by highly rhythmic instrumental work on string band tunes like “Rickett’s Hornpipe” and “Old Cat Died,” and by convincing singing on a couple of murder ballads: “Little Sadie” and “Tom Dula.” The finest vocal performances come in their vivid a cappella versions of the prison song “Another Man Done Gone,” and the ancient ballad “Little Margaret.”

--Mike Regenstreif

1 comment:

  1. It was a wonderful concert. Thanks for the heads up.