“Tradition is a guide, not a jailer. We play in an older tradition but we are modern musicians,” says the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Justin Robinson. The North Carolina-based ‘Drops’: Dom Flemmons, Rhiannon Giddens and Robinson utilize fiddle, banjo, guitar, autoharp, percussion, bones, kazoo and a jug with a rare degree of old-time skill. The Carolina Chocolate Drops latest CD, Genuine Negro Jig, counts as their fourth studio release.
The group met by jamming at an old fiddler by the name of Joe Thompson’s home every Thursday in Mebane, North Carolina. Later the group solidified in 2005 at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone. In 2008, the Carolina Chocolate Drops became the first African-American band to appear on The Grand Ole Opry since its inception in1925. The group’s debut release on Tim Duffy’s Music Maker label served as an introduction to the band’s proclivity for old American music.
Genuine Negro Jig was produced and recorded by Joe Henry in January of 2009. This disc captures original and traditional songs along the music veins of Piedmont Blues, string country bands and evoking old slave lyricisms into Appalachian music. Each member exists as a virtuoso. This music contains exuberance beyond any conventional standard of musical energy…soulful and world-weary wisdoms creak in these inimitable songs.
The disc opens with "Peace Behind the Bridge", which captures this disc's essence right from the start. "Trouble In Your Mind", a traditional tune, sounds like old farmers playing around a bottle of red-eye from some 1938 recording. "Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine" stands as an original, but a 21st Century version of an old Library of Congress composition. Timeless qualities exist in these digital grooves...
"Hit Em Up Style"--an old Blu Cantrell song--is sung by Rhiannon in a great vengeful spirit. "Cornbread And Butterbeans", "Cindy Gal", "Sandy Boys" and "Reynadine" are all traditional composition the 'Drops' apply their own modern style on. "Snowden's Jig (Genuine Negro Jig)" reached Number One on the Billboard Bluegrass chart. Robinson's original "Kissin And Cussin" ranks as a cornerstone song in the 'Drops' catalogue. Genuine Negro Jig closes with a great version of Tom Waits' "Trampled Rose". This recording without a doubt deserves the critical attraction it's gained...