Reviewed by Dr. Bobby Jones
For those who believe old time string music to only be the domain of Appalachian Scotch Irish heritage, the Carolina Chocolate Drops convincingly refute the misconception. After studying under the great Joe Thompson, the Chocolate Drops, an African-American trio, are poised to preserve their musical past.
The collection by Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson ranges from string band tunes to mournful ballads. Interpretations of songs such as "Tom Dula" and "Georgie Buck" are familiar from the repertoire of Doc Watson's early Vanguard years, but even more prominently feature clawhammer banjo, jugs, percussion and mountain harmony singing. There is even a fiddle version of "Dixie" that sounds like it could have been played in the mid 1800s.
This is not a modern sounding recording, but instead it is real, authentic and raw. There is much to be learned and preserved. No less than Taj Mahal proclaims the group as "ready to carry on the tradition." That sort of endorsement leaves little doubt this CD will appeal to fans of old time string band music and also students and ethno-musicologists desiring a more comprehensive understanding of the genre.