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Carolina Chocolate Drops Rain Down Home Flavor on Berklee February 17

The Carolina Chocolate Drops bring their chocolate- dipped brand of fiddle and banjo music originating from the Carolina Piedmont area to the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave., Tuesday, February 17, at 8:15 p.m. These three young, talented, African-American stringband musicians are recognized as leading the revival of this venerable music tradition. They will present a public clinic that day at 1pm in the BPC.
Tickets are $10 at the BPC box office. Call 617-747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com for more information.
When most people think of traditional African-American music, the genres that come to mind might be gospel, blues and jazz- few people think of old-time string band music. But the antebellum combination of banjo and fiddle used to be a tradition in most black rural communities in the South. The Carolina Chocolate Drops perform at Berklee to exemplify the diversity in other areas, too. Namely, the college’s ensemble program, which includes old-time Appalachian and bluegrass, thanks to the advent of an acoustic string principle to the curriculum.

Dom Flemons’ guitar and jug anchor the band in an infectious rhythm, and he plays harmonica for additional melody. Banjo and fiddle player Rhiannon Giddens became inspired by old-time music when she fell into contra dancing after graduating from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Justin Robinson, the band’s primary fiddler, is a classically trained violinist who he became interested in bluegrass and old-time fiddle music, as well as, the fife and drum tradition of African-Americans in the Deep South.

They have honed their skills under the tutelage of octogenarian fiddler Joe Thompson, a North Carolinian said to be the last black traditional string band player grew up playing at barn dances, “frolics” and corn shuckings and has gone on to play even Carnegie Hall. Now the trio will bring their washboards, jugs, bones, and kazoos to the Berklee campus for a night of down home music of a chocolate variety.


Mitzi A. Dorbu
Berklee College of Music
[email protected]

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