Carolina Chocolate Drops – Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind Vinyl 12″
The Carolina Chocolate Drops are an African-American string band based in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Rooted in the traditional music of the foothills and mountains of North and South Carolina, this unique string band is made up of two Carolina natives, Rhiannon Giddens (b.1977) (banjo, fiddle, voice) and Justin Robinson (b.1982) (fiddle, voice) as well as a songster from Arizona, Dom Flemons (b.1982) (guitar, banjo, jug, harmonica, snare & voice).
In this album, The songs on the record touch on ancient blues and country, but to align what the CCD do with either of those branches would be an error. Songs like “Ol’ Corn Likker” and “Black-Eyed Daisy” evoke a time and place far removed not only from the present but from contemporary notions of what those genres signify. When the trio plays “Dixie,” you’re listening not to a patriotic rebel anthem but a yearning, mournful moan. And the purity of Giddens’ solo a cappella vocal on “Little Margaret” belongs to an era when music was not something to be sold but something from the soul.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops have stated that they are on a mission to keep this tradition alive, and that they do. But they do so not from the staid position of lecturers on ethnomusicology or as strident sociopolitical posturers but as musicians truly in love with this disappearing slice of Americana, more specifically a little known slice of black Americana. That they do it with zeal as well as respect, and that they have the talent to back up their knowledge, is why it works on its own merits, not merely as a historical study.