Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bread and Chocolate

He wants money. Trouble is, you'd never know it because he's got an original scam. He operates with the element of surprise. You are minding your own business or lost in a newspaper, or simply walking down the street lost in thought. A sudden glance, your eyes meet his and he smiles and charges toward you first waving and then extending his hand to shake.
He's Southeast Asian. His accent, appearance, say Laos or Cambodia. Maybe Vietnam or Thailand.
"Heeey, How you dong?
If you talk to him for any length of time he'll ask for a dollar. In the time it takes to realize you don't know him at all, he runs his scam. And then he's gone. Sometimes, if you keep him in eyesight, you can see him walking down the other side of the street and then like a bull that suddenly realizes the fight is on, he'll charge. His smile flashes, he waves, his arm extends like a boom and in the distance, "Heeeeey"

Last Wednesday I went to the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert at the Zoo in Portland. This red hot string/jug band heated up the already 95 degree weather. It took the crowd a bit to give them their props. Probably baked for a couple of hours, they finally got into the spirit of things. These 3 super-talented African-American musicians go all the way back to roots music. Fiddle, jug, bones, banjo, kazoo, vocals, guitar, and probably a few more surprises.
At this point in their career they are bathing in the glow of their popularity. Nice folks too, as they stuck around to sign copies of their CDs and posters. Sold out to T shirts too.
This group is original in so many ways, but the thing that gets me is that they'll make you move and smile. Their music is so old (Old Timey) that it seems new to many. They remind us of our history since any look into how African-American first learned to play many of these instruments, hell, even got many of these instruments, is quite a story.
Most of all, in an odd way, the Chocolate Drops are authentic.

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