“With their 2010 Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig—which garnered a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy last year—the Carolina Chocolate Drops proved that the old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music they’d so scrupulously researched and passionately performed could be a living, breathing, ever-evolving sound. Starting with material culled from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, they sought to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, highlighting the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago. The virtuosic trio’s approach was provocative and revelatory. Their concerts, The New York Times declared, were “an end-to-end display of excellence… They dip into styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz—and beam their curiosity outward. They make short work of their instructive mission and spend their energy on things that require it: flatfoot dancing, jug playing, shouting.”
The band’s latest release “Leaving Eden” was dropped in March and the band play the Arts Fest Main Stage this Friday supporting it. My thanks to group co-founder Dom Flemons for taking a few minutes to participate in this edition of First/Last.
- The first album you ever bought?
- I’ll refrain from my embarrassing first CD purchase and mention that the first vinyl album that I ever bought was Sublime, “40oz. to Freedom”.
- Your last album bought?
- The last vinyl album I bought was “John Jackson Blues and Country Dance Tunes from Virginia”.
- Favorite album of all time?
- That’s a hard one but if I had only one album it would be Henry ‘Ragtime Texas’ Thomas, “Texas Worried Blues”.
- Least favorite/most disappointing album?
- An album that really disappointed me that I hoped would be great was Yusuf Islam’s album “An Other Cup”. Having been a Cat Stevens fan for a while I was very disappointed by this album. Also as a fan of “A for Allah”, Yusuf Islam’s first album, I was also disappointed by this particular outing.
- First concert attended?
- My first concert was Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.
- Last concert?
- The last concert I saw was Dave Matthews Band. Since our group has been opening for him, it was a treat to be able to see his concert from the front of the stage as well as from the wings.
- Favorite concert ever?
- My favorite concert would probably have to be Dave Van Ronk. I saw him when I was about 18 and it ended up being his last concert in Phoenix (which is where I’m from). He died about 6 months later.
- Least favorite concert?
- I remember that one of my least favorite concerts was of a group called the South Austin Jug Band. My friends and I were playing in a jug band ourselves and when we rolled up to the venue to find that this group did not even have a jug, we were all very disappointed by this. If you are a jug band or are calling yourself a jug band, please have a jug player. It’s like a blues band that doesn’t play blues. Why would someone do that?
- Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
- Having not spent a lot of time in Pittsburgh, I can’t say I have any particular thoughts on the place. Guess that means I’ll have to visit a little more.
Thanks, Dom. Looking forward to hearing your music fill up Point State Park!