This young trio is dedicated to carrying on the traditions of the African-American fiddle and banjo music that hails, as they do, from the piedmont of North Carolina.
Unless you've happened across the music of Joe Thompson, or the Old Hat compilation Violin, Sing the Blues for Me: African-American Fiddlers: 1926-1949, you might not be familiar with the long history of African-American stringband music. But this 2006 release by the Carolina Chocolate Drops proves that old-time music surpasses both race and time. The trio is dedicated to carrying on the traditions of the African-American fiddle and banjo music that hails, as they do, from the piedmont of North Carolina. Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind isn't a museum piece, however: it is, above all else, infectiously fun. "Ol' Corn Likker" is named after booze and features dance-call vocals -- not surprising, since this type of music is social music, made to be played with people, for people. Album highlights "Old Cat Died" and "Sally Ann" both feature a loose, collective feel, and benefit from the addition of harmonica to the fiddle-banjo template. "Little Margaret" acknowledges the a cappella tradition of this genre and showcases Rhiannon Gidden's vocal strength, while "Dixie" reveals the sheer power of a lone fiddle. The Carolina Chocolate Drops is a young band, but the passion of its performance is a testament to the band members' respect, understanding, and love of these old songs. Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind is worth further exploration for those intrigued by the rich history of African-American fiddle and banjo music, or for those simply in search of quality old-time music. Moreover, your purchase benefits a good cause. The Music Maker Relief Foundation-- the label for this album -- is a non-profit dedicated to "helping the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern musical traditions gain recognition and meet their day-to-day needs."