Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Quick Review of Last Night's Show

It's pretty humbling when the generation after yoursis shown to do a far better job carrying on tradition than yours. The Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Water Street Music Hall was about as good as a show can get. The musicianship was so stellar that even my wife, a foreigner for the most part unfamiliar with American Old-time, sat enthralled through the whole show.

The Prickers were perfect as an opening act. The local band's new line-up wisely replaces the electric bass guitar with a tuba! I was unfamiliar with all but one of the songs, but the tunes were incredibly catchy and accessible. It's hard to pigeonhole the band; they sound like nothing I've ever heard before. The old-time banjo and fiddle are supplemented by horns and organ at times almost soulful but with the intensity of punk rock. The Drops' Hubby Jenkins came out to watch and capture some of their performance on his cell phone, which I thought was nice. Even nicer was Dom Flemons' joining them with his pan-flute for a number.

They did a great job softening up the audience for the main act. I was a bit skeptical of the new line-up. No more. YouTube's little screens do not do justice to the intensity and showmanship of a Carolina Chocolate Drops live performance. The two guys and two gals who form the band are natural entertainers, with loads of geniality and graciousness. Who'd have guessed Rhiannon Giddens would sing in Scottish Gaelic? They are also educators, teaching a largely white audience about old-time black music and how, musically speaking at least, genres were never as segregated as we are taught to think. The highlight for me was their cover of this number — June Carter & Johnny Cash - Jackson.

They finished with a few genuine compliments to our city, mentioning Dibella's Old Fashioned Submarines, Record Archive and House of Guitars, and promising to come back. I look forward to that day.

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