Carolina Chocolate Drops to Play in Harrisburg Friday, Sept 23, 2011

by Jes Hayden

The original members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dom
Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, met each other in Boone, N.C.,
at the Black Banjo Gathering. Each of the three musicians was curious about
old-time Southern folk music and its African roots and very excited to meet
other musicians who shared their interests. In 2005, they formed the Carolina
Chocolate Drops, a modern take on a traditional black string band.

Now, after winning countless fans and a Grammy (for the CD Genuine Negro Jig), the group has made
some line-up changes signifying the next chapter in band’s life. The addition
of beatboxer Adam Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins (who replaced
departing band member Justin Robinson) add a more modern sensibility to the band’s
repertoire. This new composition will be featured as the Carolina Chocolate
Drops makes a stop at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg on Friday, September 23rd
in a concert sponsored by Point Entertainment and Greenbelt Events.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops perform a mix of bluegrass,
“jass,” jug music, and prehistoric country and rock. The members use
a range of traditional string-band instruments including several banjos, a
fiddle, a ceramic jug, bones a kazoo and throw in a little buck dancing for good
measure!  United by the love of
traditional black music, the group has been mentored by Joe Thompson, an
elderly black fiddler from North Carolina who taught them music from his

Playing Thompson’s music has became the core of Carolina Chocolate
Drops’ repertoire, although much of this music traces back to the minstrel acts
of the 1920s — controversial music performed by white musicians in blackface.
Giddens acknowledges the songs’ history. “What we’re striving to put out
there is the joyous side of this music — the good side of this time
period,” she says on the band’s website. “There’s a lot of bad stuff,
and we’re not going to deny that. But you can’t throw everything out.”

On the CD Genuine
Negro Jig
the band does much more than recreate black string band music
from the last century. While still rooted in traditional styles, the CD ranges
boldly from Joe Thompson’s Cindy Gal to Tom Waits’ Trampled Rose and Rhiannon’s
acoustic hip hop version of R&B artist Blu Cantrell’s Hit ‘Em Up Style. As
they settle into their new line-up they are sure to showcase more of the early
blues, ballads and ragtime that Jenkins brings to the group and the beatbox
artistry of Matta. In concert The Carolina Chocolate Drop’s versatility,
innovativeness and enthusiasm have allowed them to break through the
generational barrier and attract audience members of all ages.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops performs at the Sunoco
Performance Theater, Whitaker Center for the Science and the Arts located at
222 Market Street in Harrisburg at 7:30, Friday, September 23rd.
Tickets are $25 and $30 and are available at or by calling
717-214-ARTS. To read more about the band visit
Genuine Negro Jig is on the Nonesuch Record label.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. The Thread
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 02:34:22

    Duke Performances in Durham, NC is presenting The Carolina Chocolate Drops on Friday, December 2nd. Here is an other interesting article about them–from our blog, “The Thread”:

    “André Watts, Carolina Chocolate Drops & Luminescent Orchestrii”:


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