Carolina Chocolate Drops
Genuine Negro Jig
Perhaps the fact that I tried to turn this interview in on a piece of paper (handwritten, no less, in this age of the blog) betrays the fact that I appreciate keeping it old school. The Carolina Chocolate Drops embody this prinicple better than most. One of the most interesting facets of their latest album Genuine Negro Jig is the album insert. It tells the listener the origin of each tune, with sources ranging from nonagenarian fiddle players to the Harlem Hamfats’ 1931 smash-hit “Weed Smoker’s Dream” to a few songs dating well into the 1800s. In fact, the Carolina Chocolate Drops themselves are a relic from times past: an all-black old-timey string band performing in an age when names like Otha Turner and Bill Monroe are little known.
In Genuine Negro Jig, the band mostly stays true to their style. In fact, the album’s weaker points are when they try to deviate, with a cover of “Hit ‘Em Up Stye” that is hard to listen to and a vocal sans-instruments song entitled “Reynadine” taking away from what the Drops do best: buck-dance string tunes. Each member of the band takes a turn at the mic (and on many different instruments), channeling Old Crow Medicine Show and Pokey LaFarge, alternatively. Still, one cannot discount the Drops’ attention to detail and their historical authenticity on an album that still has the ability to appeal to a modern audience (okay, maybe just me). There remain many excellent songs on this album, which will have you tapping your foot to the fast moving strings. When you are not doing this, take some time to appreciate the work of the forefathers who gave us the blues and Americana music as we know it today.
Standout Tracks: Trouble in Your Mind, Sandy Boys, Cindy Gal, Peace Behind the Bridge
-- Mark Waterman
"The Cosmic American Radio Music Hour," Saturdays 2-4 pm on WGTB