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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Carolina Chocolate Drops in New Haven

Carolina Chocolate Drops on stage at New Haven's
International Festival of Arts and Ideas
Photo by my old shipmate and friend, Wojtek Wacowski.
It is no secret that I'm a traditional music junkie.  Past posts about Pete Seeger, Peggy Seeger, and John McCutcheon testify to that.  I've been getting banjo notables to sign my banjo for a good while now and I've got a list of people that I'd like to track down and have them sign my banjo.  The members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops have been at the top of my list for some time, but their tour schedule rarely brings them to the northeast.

A few weeks ago, Kimberly the Ever Vigilant happened to see that the Drops were scheduled to appear at a free concert on the New Haven green as part of the
International Festival of Arts and Ideas so, this past Saturday, Kimberly, Ian and I packed our trusty orange picnic blanket and a variety of yummy munchies and made our way for an evening of musical bliss.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops had their beginnings at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, NC, and honed their traditional Afro-Appalachian string-band music playing with then-90-year-old African-American fiddler,
Joe Thompson (1918-2012).  Their set-list includes a lot more than string band music from the 1920s, though, incorporating disparate influences such as the music of minstrel shows, and Celtic "mouth music" as well as hip-hop and rhythm and blues, sometimes all at the same time.
Dom plays my banjo, with Hubby and Leyla.
Rhiannon is obscured by glare and my poorly placed body.
Last Saturday, the Drops put on a fine show, performing favorites like "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad," and "Cornbread and Butterbeans," as well as a traditional Haitian song about a musician whose romantic prospects are limited because he has no friends and no family, and the title track to the band's latest album, "Leaving Eden," a song about the sorrows of leaving home in the hopes of finding work elsewhere.

After the concert, the members of the band were available for autographs and all seemed very happy to sign my banjo, looking at the other signatures.  "I'm going to sign next to Peggy!" said Rhiannon, excitedly.  Hubby signed/doodled his signature, with drawings standing in for letters.  Leyla, who isn't a regular performer with the Chocolate Drops, but who had played banjo beaufitully, asked, "Are you SURE you want ME to sign this?"  I did.  Dom's signature was small and careful and then he spent a minute or so playing my insturment, while the rest of the people in line watched in what I'd like to believe was pleasure.

My banjo head continues to fill up.
CCD signatures are transcribed for your reading pleasure.

Thanks to Charlie Barrett, for shooting video of Saturday's event and posting it to his YouTube channel!!

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