Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hot Chocolate


I've been listening to the new album by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Such a wonderful mix of very traditional folk and skiffle band music with some blues arrangements and some more contemporary things.
One of the pieces is called a traditional "Negro Jig." That's just what it is, a traditional jog that was played by African American musicians. I've been explaining to some of my friends that dating back to the "peculiar institution" (slavery) there is a long heritage of Black jug bands and fiddle tunes. Given that the banjo (banjar) came over from west Africa, and the fiddle was part of the English Irish tradition, it's easy to see how this very American original music developed. It's important to note, also, that when African Americans held as slaves were skilled musicians that meant they had some special opportunities to make money being rented out by their owners for dances, parties, and various celebrations and holidays. Trouble was they rarely kept all the money they earned, if any at all.
When I see these talented young African Americans that call themselves the Carolina Chocolate Drops I see their history. I love that they have embraced this music because it keeps it alive. It also completes some long lost broken cycle. This time they keep the money for their talent and the pleasure they bring to all fortunate enough to hear them.
I was reading a review of their album recently that mentioned how dicey it is to record black string band music because the original is still available. Seems to me that just seeing this trip perform can do wonders for our acoustic-challenged music culture.




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