Friday, February 01, 2008

Carolina Chocolate Drops cross racial boundaries

"The banjo claws, the fiddle saws, the twangy, ancient- sounding voice sings of darkness and murder," writes Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times. "The recording of the folk staple 'Little Sadie' -- like most of the tracks on the 2007 album Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind -- is pure mountain music, the kind indelibly associated with the rural white communities of the 19th and early 20th century American South.

"But the Carolina Chocolate Drops . . . are three young African Americans, and for many their music will be an eye-opening introduction to the tradition of the black string bands that provided a soundtrack for the South alongside their white counterparts. The Drops' square-dance drive and infectious performances have made them a hot act on the folk circuit . . . despite the playfully provocative group name and the presence of the often divisive 'Dixie' in their song list."

Dom Flemons of the Drops (who hail from North Carolina) tells the Times, "Music will cross racial boundaries with no problem whatsoever. . . . We're just trying to play the music and be like, 'This is part of our whole American history.' Just showing people the musical traditions that America has. Through all of its hardships, it has very powerful music it makes. Whether it's out of the struggle or whether it's just social music or the mixing of different cultures coming together, it's amazing." (Read more)

1 comment:

Juju said...

The contribution of African Americans to traditional string music has been ignored too long, and it's great that this young band is reclaiming those roots. Bill Monroe always credited Ohio County guitarist Arthur Schultz, an African American, as being a key influence of his sound. DeLong Bailey, another black artist who learned to play the harmonica while recovering from polio as a child, opened the Grand Ol' Opry with his unparalleled playing in the 1920s. It took many years for blues, jazz and country music to be accepted as commercially viable and culturally important, and it's great to see the tradition carried on. - Judy Owens