WOODSTOCK – Pentangle Arts presents the Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, on Sunday March 30 at Woodstock Town Hall Theatre at 7:30 p.m.
This traditional African-American string band got its start in 2005 with founding members Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson. The three budding musicians traveled every Thursday night to the home of old-time fiddler and songster, Joe Thompson, to learn tunes, listen to stories and, most importantly – to jam. Joe, a black fiddler in his eighties with a short-bowing style that he inherited from generations of family musicians, was passing his lessons to the next generation. When the three students decided to form a band, they didn’t have big plans. It was mostly a tribute to Joe, a chance to bring his music out of the living room and into dancehalls and public places.
With their 2010 debut album, “Genuine Negro Jig,” which garnered a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy — the Carolina Chocolate Drops proved that the old-time fiddle and banjo-based music they had so scrupulously researched and passionately performed, could be a living, breathing and ever-evolving sound. Starting with material culled from the Piedmont regions of the Carolinas, the band sought to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, while highlighting the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago. The virtuosic trio’s approach was provocative and revelatory.
In early 2012, the Carolina Chocolate Drops released Leaving Eden, a studio album produced by Buddy Miller. The album was recorded in Nashville and featured Giddens, Flemons, Hubby Jenkins and Leyla McCalla. With Flemons and McCalla now concentrating on solo work, the group’s 2014 lineup will feature two more virtuosic players — cellist, Malcolm Parson and multi-instrumentalist, Rowan Corbett — illustrating the expansive, continually exploratory nature of the Carolina Chocolate Drops music.