Carolina Chocolate Drops
8 p.m., Saturday, September 22, 2012
Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
(Posted on August 23, 2012) Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts begins its 2012-2013 "Sweet Sounds" music series with the Carolina Chocolate Drops performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, September 22, 2012. This critically acclaimed acoustic music ensemble is recognized for breathing new life into the string-band tradition. The band won a Grammy® Award in 2010, for the album "Genuine Negro Jig," named Best Traditional Folk Album of the year, proving that old-time fiddle and banjo-based music can have an ever-evolving sound. Tickets are $40, $30, and $25.
Since the band's inception in 2005 at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, North Carolina, the Carolina Chocolate Drops has toured year-round internationally, playing festivals such as Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Telluride, and selling out concert halls and clubs. Band members studied the Piedmont banjo and fiddle musical tradition under the tutelage of the late Joe Thompson, one of the last living performers from the Piedmont string band heyday, who died this year at age 93. While old-time Southern string music is often associated with Caucasian musicians from Appalachia, founding member Rhiannon Giddens pointed out in a recent NPR interview that "it seems that two things get left out of the history books. One, that there was string band music in the Piedmont, period. (And that) black folk was such a huge part of string tradition." The Carolina Chocolate Drops seeks to not only correct this misunderstanding, but to keep the centuries-old string music tradition alive and developing.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops' newest album, "Leaving Eden,"features original compositions, covers, and traditional songs and was produced by Buddy Miller. On "Leaving Eden," the North Carolina-based group illustrates its own adaptability to grow and change as the original lineup expanded from three to five players for the recording, and a new repertoire incorporates more blues, jazz, and folk balladry alongside brilliantly rendered string-band tunes. Founding members Giddens and Dom Flemons, both singers and multi-instrumentalists who worked together in a previous group called Sankofa Strings, are joined by singer Hubby Jenkins, now a full-time member, and New Orleans-based cellist Leyla McCalla, who is part of the 2012 touring line-up. Also appearing on the disc is Adam Matta, guitarist, banjo and beat box player.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops regularly receives critical accolades from publications such as the Capital Times (Madison, WI), which said, "The string band performed a joyful, high-energy show that had the packed, sweaty theater moving and cheering for the entire time. The band's sound is rooted in, and very reverent to, the traditional African-American string band sound of generations ago. But the attitude is anything but old-timey, as the band brought in hip-hop and soul elements, a no-holds-barred energy, and just a sense of playfulness to the songs." The Seattle Times agrees: "What a treat to bask in this Grammy-winning group's top-notch musicality, easy good humor and understated but sparkling showmanship with just the right dollop of historical background."
Tickets and subscriptions are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396 (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at http://www.fairfield.edu/quick.
The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center for audience members and performers. Hearing amplification devices are available upon request at the Box Office. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate-95. For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit http://www.fairfield.edu/quick.
Vol. 45, No. 31