In a world where true blues and American folk music isn’t played on radio or at major music festivals across the country; the trio Carolina Chocolate Drops are playing authentic and rich jug band music to fans all over the world. Considering the group formed in 2005, the last 5 years have been quite a whirlwind for them.
Carolina Chocolate Drops consists of Rhiannon Gidddens (5 string banjo, fiddle, kazoo), Dom Flemons (4 string banjo, guitar, jug, harmonica, snare drum, bones), and Justin Robinson (fiddle, 5 string banjo, autoharp, jug, beatbox). They met at the Black Banjo Gathering in North Carolina and had a deep knowledge and passion about Piedmont String Band Music. Their mentor, Joe Thompson, who just recently turned 91, is one of the last African-American traditional String Band players.
Fiddle and banjo music doesn’t just come from the Appalachian Mountains, other states like Kentucky, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina were just as important in creating “community music” for the people. Especially people of color. Many String Band performers have paved the way for Carolina Chocolate Drops like Emp White, Dink Roberts, and John Snipes. Their latest Nonsuch release “Genuine Negro Jig” is an amalgamation of their interpretations of American roots music from the likes of Josh White to the Mississippi Mud Steppers.
Rhiannon, who was classically trained in Opera at Oberlin Conservatory, also dances while performing.
The groups also educates its music fans of the origins of the Piedmont music culture as well as explains the history of the banjo and how it originated from Africa. Also, why African Americans moved away from playing Bluegrass and other related roots music from this era.
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