Monday, November 24, 2008

The Carolina Chocolate Drops keep me warm

One of my favorite Cedar artists will be returning in the spring. Their sounds keep me warm all winter long. The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a group of young African-American stringband musicians that have come to together to play the rich tradition of fiddle and banjo music in Carolinas’ piedmont. Their performances at The Cedar have excited teens raised on hip-hop and r&b to folk traditionalists to dancers in their 80s.

string band:
The string band originated as a subgenre of old-time music. It spotlights a group of acoustic string instruments, sometimes even to the exclusion of vocals. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, other stringed instruments began to be added to the fiddle-banjo duo that was essential to dance music of the early 19th century United States. These other instruments included the guitar, mandolin, and double bass (or washtub bass), which provided chordal and bass line accompaniment (or occasionally melody also). Such an assemblage, of whatever instrumentation, became known simply as a "string band." East of the Mississippi, the genre gave way to country music in the 1930s and bluegrass music in the 1940s. During the same period, west of the Mississippi, Western musicians retained the acoustic style of the bands while the big Western dance bands amplified their strings.

QuantcastWhen the Carolina Chocolate Drops were in town this past January 2008 they performed twice at The Cedar for a sold-out concert and a free concert and workshop for high school students, plus a free workshop at the MacPhail Center For Music just down the road from The Cedar. Twin Cities documentary filmmaker John Whitehead has been working on a film about string band music, Black String Revival, which prominantly features the CCDs. Each time the CCDs have played in town he has filmed their performances at The Cedar and I can't wait to see the story when it's completed.

Until then, here are some clips I shot of the CCDs at their free workshop at MacPhail, featuring their cover of Blu Cantrell's Hit 'Em Up Style!

The Carolina Chocolate Drops play The Cedar March 28 & 29, 2009. Tickets are on sale now.

1 comment:

Mama E Dub said...

Damn! You know how many YouTubes there are of these guys doing "Hit 'em Up Style?" Literally dozens. Filmed all over the country from Alaska to Carolina. It's soooo fun and compelling people just must've grabbed their phones as soon as they recognized the tune.

Chocolate Drops RULE!!!