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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What to Do Tonight: Carolina Chocolate Drops

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 9:07 AM

While there’s certainly a novelty to watching a group of black musicians play string music, there’s actually a long but forgotten string tradition among black musicians. The Carolina Chocolate Drops are keeping that tradition alive, even if the group’s singer and multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons doesn’t consider them musical missionaries. “We don’t have a responsibility in that sort of way,” he says. “We were all interested in [string music], and we thought it was a great thing that we could connect with this music and find a whole new aspect of black culture, as well as American culture, within the music. That was what started it. As we’ve gone along, the responsibility has been that we can expose people to it.” The band’s roots go back to the 2005 Black Banjo Gathering, where Flemons met bandmates Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson. Produced by Joe Henry, the Drops’ latest album, Genuine Negro Jig, features a mix of traditional tunes (“Trouble in Your Mind”) and originals (“Kissin’ and Cussin’), all of which would fit snugly on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. “There was a connection in philosophies with Joe,” says Flemons. “We had a short amount of time to do it, and Joe said he could get it done in a week, and we did. Joe brings a darker, gritty quality to the recording that is all his own. He added atmosphere.” The Carolina Chocolate Drops play the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, at 8 p.m. Hiram Rapids Stumblers open. Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. —Niesel

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