Carolina Chocolate Drops Genuine Negro Jig Coming In February

Nonesuch Records is set to release the label debut of North Carolina-based string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops on February 16.

Produced by critically acclaimed recording artist and songwriter Joe Henry (Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello, Solomon Burke), Genuine Negro Jig features string band interpretations of Blu Cantrell's beat-box driven R&B single "Hit 'Em Up Style" and Tom Waits' "Trampled Rose," as well as a pair of original compositions, alongside traditional tracks such as "Cornbread and Butterbeans" and "Trouble in Your Mind."

It is the band's second record; their 2007 release, Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind, was praised by Paste for "bravely and expertly reclaiming the string band tradition for modern African-American culture," while NPR's Weekend Edition calls the band "the hottest thing to hit the old-time music community in decades." The band is touring in support of the album's release; please see below for a list of dates.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops formed after band members Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson met at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, NC in 2005; they have toured continuously since the band's inception. All three trained in the Piedmont banjo and fiddle musical tradition under the tutelage of Joe Thompson, who, at age 90, is believed to be the last living performer from the Piedmont string band heyday. While old-time Southern string music is often associated with Caucasian musicians from Appalachia, 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 seek to not only correct this misunderstanding, but to keep the centuries-old string music tradition alive and developing.

The members of Carolina Chocolate Drops all come from diverse musical backgrounds, sharing singing duties and swapping instruments throughout their sets. Flemons has immersed himself in the music of the past, with a prodigious record collection and an immense knowledge of the different playing styles of the blues, country, and string band traditions. In addition to her work with Joe Thompson, Giddens—a Piedmont native—studied opera at Oberlin Conservatory, performs with a Celtic band and is also an avid contra dancer and caller. Robinson, the group's main fiddler, also plays banjo; he grew up in a house full of musicians—his mother is a classically trained opera singer and cellist, his sister a classical pianist and his grandfather a harmonica player.

February 25 Royal Theater Danville, IN
February 26 St. Louis Art Museum St. Louis, MO
February 27 Fitzgerald's Berwyn, IL
February 28 Schuba's Chicago, IL
March 1 Down by the Riverside Rochester, MN
March 2 Down by the Riverside Rochester, MN
March 3 Down by the Riverside Rochester, MN
March 4 Down by the Riverside Rochester, MN
March 5 Down by the Riverside Rochester, MN
March 6 Down by the Riverside Rochester, MN
March 9 Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI
March 13 Stone Mountain Arts Center Brownfield, ME
March 14 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY

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