Carolina Chocolate Drops: Reviving Foot Stomping Folk Music From Days of Old

Written for Slow Living: http://www.slowlivingtoday.com/2014/culture-entertainment/carolina-chocolate-drops-reviving-foot-stomping-folk-music-days-old/

The music and vocals of the Carolina Chocolate Drops evoke another era with timeless tunes performed with boundless passion and energy. The traditional African-American string band revisits early Southern music of the ‘20s and ‘30s, returning to time-honored songs like “Cornbread and Butterbeans” and “Trouble in Your Mind.” They also transform contemporary songs into string arrangements, like Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style” and Tom Waits’ “Trampled Rose.”

The founding members would visit old-timey fiddler Joe Thompson every week, where the 80-year-old song maker would teach the young musicians the styles and songs of previous generations. With direct references to those African-American folk music roots, the old-timey style music is lively and upbeat, played typically with a banjo or fiddle. The founding members (Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, Sule Greg Wilson, and Justin Robinson) gathered material from the Carolinas and blended it with their research and personal experience of old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music for their first album in 2005, Heritage.

Since the band’s second album, Genuine Negro Jig, won a 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album, the band has continued on a successful path. Their most recent album was released in 2012, Leaving Eden, with the pop-chart-friendly “Country Girl” becoming the band’s first music video. Band members Rhiannon Gibbons, Hubby Jenkins, Rowan Corbett, and Malcolm Parson, will release their next album in 2015.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops recently returned from a tour of England and Europe, and will play next at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) on September 18, 2014. The next couple of months will see the band travel across the country, with performances at the Fresh Grass Bluegrass Festival (North Adams, MA) and the Harvest Music Festival (Ozark, AR).

For news and performances, please visit the band’s official website: www.carolinachocolatedrops.com