Music: Carolina Chocolate Drops

African Americans have a long and prominent profile in the timeline of string band music, but their almost complete absence from contemporary styles like Bluegrass, Country and Folk has done little to support their historical importance to the genres. Th

African Americans have a long and prominent profile in the timeline of string band music, but their almost complete absence from contemporary styles like Bluegrass, Country and Folk has done little to support their historical importance to the genres.

That absence was at least partially rectified five years ago when multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons, banjoist/fiddler Rihanna Giddens and fiddler/banjoist Justin Robinson got together to form the Carolina Chocolate Drops, taking the Bluegrass community by storm. The trio met at the Black Banjo Gathering in North Carolina — Giddens was one of the event’s organizers, Flemons was a curious attendee and Robinson was there to take fiddle instruction from 90-year-old master Joe Thompson. The foursome played in a variety of configurations over the next few months until Flemons, Giddens and Robinson settled into permanence, dubbing themselves the Carolina Chocolate Drops as an homage to a similarly christened band from the 1920s.

In five short but hard-working years, the Carolina Chocolate Drops have transcended the novelty of being a black Bluegrass band by becoming one of the best bands the genre has to offer.

Go here to read Brian Baker's Sound Advice.

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