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In concert: Carolina Chocolate Drops

Carolina Chocolate DropsCarolina Chocolate Drops offered plenty of musical history Monday at the Birchmere. (All photos by Brandon Wu/FTWP)

By Sarah Godfrey

The members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops call their style "traditional innovation"; musicians Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, and Justin Robinson -- all twenty-and thirty-somethings -- may wear old-timey clothes and play the banjo, fiddle, and bones, but they are bringing new energy to black string band music.

("If you wanna be quiet, that's OK, but you don't have to be quiet," plus more pictures, after the jump.)

Carolina Chocolate Drops

CCD is reinvigorating a sound that has a complicated place in American history -- it conjures African rhythms, but also the pre-Civil War South. The band focuses on reviving the music of African-American artists who pre-date the blues, including North Carolina string band musician Joe Thompson, (one of the CCD's earliest teachers) and Kensington, Md., fiddler Will Adams.

At the Birchmere on Monday, CCD played some tunes and offered up plenty of musical history, but they also just wanted people to jump up and dance. "We're all about community music, dance music, music people sung together and played together on porches -- it's not meant to be performed on a stage to a quiet audience," said Giddens. "If you wanna be quiet, that's OK, but you don't have to be quiet."

Whooping and hollering commenced shortly thereafter as the band ran through songs such as "Starry Crown," from 2006's "Dona Got A Ramblin' Mind," and new material from their upcoming Nonesuch album "Genuine Negro Jig." And to mix up their historically reverential style a bit, the Chocolate Drops performed a twangy version of R&B singer Blue Cantrell's 2001 track "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" which worked surprisingly well as a string band composition and served as a nice bridge between the old and the new.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Carolina Chocolate Drops

By David Malitz  |  January 19, 2010; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Carolina Chocolate Drops  
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But did she opening act Red Molly? I've seen them several times and enjoyed them.

Posted by: Hemisphire | January 19, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Umm - meant to say did she enjoy them.

Posted by: Hemisphire | January 19, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Hemisphire: I did! I liked them a lot. They sounded great, and they're really funny, too, aren't they?

Posted by: Sarah_Godfrey | January 19, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

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