A whole episode of National Public Radio’s show Fresh Air was dedicated to the Carolina Chocolate Drops, undoubtedly because they are so fascinating. The group is an all-black string band, embracing components of old-timey style and instrumentation with banjo, fiddle, jug, bones, and even kazoo, while fusing it with newer elements of pop and hip-hop. The mix doesn’t just work, it transcends.
During the episode,Terry Gross not only speaks to musicians Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, and Justin Robinson about their influences and backstory, but also persuades them to play around with their instruments and break down exactly what’s happening in their songs – a musical show and tell.
Yes, you’ll hear songs that sound like they nestle in well with the classic string-band style, often because they are in fact older songs with strong tradition tied into their histories. Songs like “Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine”,a song attributed to Papa Charlie Jackson, a New Orlean’s banjo player from the early 1900’s:
They are equally able to rock the modern tunes as well as evidenced by their version of Blue Cantrall’s Hit Em Up Style:
Check out the band’s official website for tour dates, more videos, and pictures.