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Carolina Chocolate Drops

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Carolina Chocolate Drops

Carolina Chocolate Drops

© CCDs promo photo

Description of Carolina Chocolate Drops' Music:

Jug band, stringband, contemporary folk, Americana

Comparisons:

The Carolina Chocolate Drops tend to fill a category all their own in contemporary music circles. While old timey revivalist bands like Sassparilla and the Asylum Street Spankers may be stylistically similar, the Carolina Chocolate Drops seem much more comparable to fellow North Carolina acts like Paleface and the Avett Brothers. Fans of each of those bands would appreciate the Chocolate Drops. CCDs fans looking to delve deeper into the history of jug band music should check out Gus Cannon and Big Bill Broonzy as a starting point.

Carolina Chocolate Drops Lineup:

Dom Flemons - 4-string banjo, guitar, jug, harmonica, kazoo, various percussion
Rhiannon Giddens - 5-string banjo, fiddle, kazoo
Adam Matta - beatbox, tambourine
Hubby Jenkins - guitar, 5-string banjo, bones

Recommended Carolina Chocolate Drops CDs:

Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind (Music Maker, 2006) compare prices

Carolina Chocolate Drops with Luminescent Orchestrii (Nonesuch, 2010) compare prices

Genuine Negro Jig (Nonesuch, 2010) compare prices

Purchase/Download Carolina Chocolate Drops MP3s:

"Hit 'Em Up Style (from Genuine Negro Jig)
"Snowden's Jig" (from Genuine Negro Jig)
"Short Life of Trouble" (from Heritage)

Carolina Chocolate Drops Biography:

Borne of the Boone, NC, annual Black Banjo Gathering, the Carolina Chocolate Drops formed in 2005. Originally a larger group called Sankofa Strings, the Chocolate Drops was originally a trio featuring Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, and Justin Robinson. (Sankofa Strings included Sule Greg Wilson as well.) The basis of the band was old timey African-American stringband music, with all of the group's members being accomplished multi-instrumentalists and trading off on guitar, banjo, fiddle, vocals, and various percussion instruments. Robinson, as a rather proficient beatboxer, added his vocal percussion to the mix, bridging the gap between old time folk music and contemporary sounds for tunes like the Chocolate Drops's cover of Blu Cantrell's "Hit Em Up Style."

As the band emerged and solidified its sound, the members learned a large chunk of repertoire from fellow Carolinian and fiddle player Joe Thompson. All along, they've tried to focus heavily on the music indigenous to the central Carolinas, to spotlight the heritage of their home-region around Durham, NC.

While their albums are well worth several spins, it's their live show where Carolina Chocolate Drops really shine. They swap instruments and lead vocal duties throughout, sharing stories about the origins of the songs they perform, and adhering to the tradition of their craft. Still, the band's live energy is undeniable, getting the crowd pulsing and dancing along to old timey fiddle tunes and cover songs alike. Shows in North Carolina have even been known to include guest appearances from local clogging troupes, who spin around the stage to traditional tunes like "Cornbread and Butterbeans."

In 2011, Robinson left the band and was replaced by two new members - multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins and beatboxer Adam Matta - bringing the member count to four. They've released six albums since 2006, with a seventh album - Leaving Eden - due Feb. 28, 2012 on Nonesuch Records. They received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2010 for Genuine Negro Jig. They've toured around the world, playing gigs everywhere from Bonnaroo to the Americana Music Association Conference and Festival, South by Southwest, and Mountain Stage. They've toured as the opening band for legendary bluesman Taj Mahal.

Release of their 2012 album Leaving Eden will be accompanied by another nationwide tour, with stops in New England, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, back home in the Carolinas, and beyond. Check out the Carolina Chocolate Drops website for more information and an ongoing list of tour dates.

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