WHO: Backbeat Foundation Presents Carolina Chocolate Drops
WHEN: Friday, April 27th @ 10 p.m.
WHERE: The Temple @ 619 Carondelet St, New Orleans – A gorgeous venue Backbeat initially took over in 2011 that’s only open as a music venue during Jazz Fest. A rare treat to see a show like this in such a special venue.
PRICE: $22 (BUY)
WHY: On the night of my first Grand Ole Opry visit in Nashville years ago, one young band caught my attention above all other acts (a lineup that included Marty Stuart, The Whites and the late-great Porter Wagoner). The North Carolina-based trio called the Carolina Chocolate Drops, made up of Justin Robinson (fiddle, banjo, vocal), Rhiannon Giddens (banjo, fiddle, vocals) and Don Flemons (guitar, banjo, harmonica, jug, snare and vocal) were a striking outfit, in large part thanks to Giddens’ amazingly alluring vocal presence. These musicians wielding old-timey, beat up instruments were breathing new life into folk music with such youthful vigor and learned passion. The unique, albeit brief set still sticks out years later.
Since that night four or five years ago, the trio has been making major waves nationally, booking gigs like a Bonnaroo ’10 and this year’s Newport Folk Festival, signing with Nonesuch Records (The Black Keys, Bjork & Wilco), all while helping to revive the old-time African-American string band music that used to be a tradition in black rural communities of the South. And if that ain’t enough, the band took home its first Grammy in 2010, winning Best Traditional Folk Album for the 2010 record Genuine Negro Jig.
In light of the recent Americana renaissance, which has seen previously obscure artists like The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons painted gold and platinum and smaller bands like The Low Anthem, FUTUREBIRDS and The Punch Brothers experiencing a continuous rise in popularity, it’s no surprise that this band has been so well-received in recent years. While Americana is a broad brush to paint CCD with, this recent revival and expanded appreciation for the kind of treasured and timeless sound that Carolina Chocolate Drops wields has brought them to bigger stages like the Opry and, for our intents and purposes, an extra special performance in The Temple for to kick off Backbeat Foundation’s 7th Annual Jazzfest concert series.