The American Songster
Since he first came to public attention as a founding member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dom Flemons has built a repertoire that covers over a full century of American music, making a reputation for himself as “The American Songster.” He is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor, music scholar, and historian. He is considered an expert player on the banjo, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills, fife, and rhythm bones.
In fact, there might be no one alive who could teach you more about the vast sweep of American music than Dom Flemons. We’ve been proud to have him on our board of directors for more than a decade.
Music Maker first encountered Dom in 2006. He had moved to North Carolina and wanted to talk to us about the possibilities of our foundation working with the newly formed Chocolate Drops. During that visit, Dom told our co-founder Tim Duffy about his teenage discovery of John Dee Holeman.
“I told him my story, and he picked up the phone and called John Dee Holeman,” Dom says. “And about 20 minutes later, John Dee drove right down. John Dee was so excited to hear there was a young African American man that wanted to play the blues. He shook my hand and he must have held my hand for 10 minutes just talking with me, just so glad to see that I had come down. And that was the type of encouragement I got right off the bat when I started working with Music Maker. So I met John Dee and then slowly afterward, I got to meet Captain Luke and Macavine Hayes and Whistlin’ Britches.”
Dom continued to meet and then perform with a variety of Music Maker partner artists, including Adolphus Bell, Alabama Slim, Little Freddie King, and Boo Hanks, with whom Dom recorded the 2013 album “Buffalo Junction.” Dom later recorded versions of Hanks’ “Keep On Truckin’” and James Davis’ “Georgia Drumbeat” on his own “Prospect Hill” album.
“That was a big education for me, spending some time with folks down at Music Maker, and really getting a time to go out to their places, spend time with them, see what they’re about,” Dom says. “And then also start to figure out how to make music that was reflective of my own musical experience as well as theirs.”
Dom Flemons was born on August 30, 1982.
Top photo by Tim Duffy.