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Genuine Negro Jig
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Genuine Negro Jig
Genres: Blues, Pop
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are as much about revelation as revival. On its Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig, the trio brings exuberance, humor, virtuosity and an infectious — acoustic groove to its exploration of a near-...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Carolina Chocolate Drops
Title: Genuine Negro Jig
Members Wishing: 25
Total Copies: 0
Label: Nonesuch
Original Release Date: 1/1/2010
Re-Release Date: 2/16/2010
Genres: Blues, Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 075597983982


Product Description
The Carolina Chocolate Drops are as much about revelation as revival. On its Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig, the trio brings exuberance, humor, virtuosity and an infectious
acoustic groove to its exploration of a near-forgotten brand of banjo-driven string-band music originating more than a century ago in the foothills of North Carolina, the Piedmont region where band members Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson were raised. In this rural area, musicians, both black and white, once shared and swapped tunes. Over the decades, the importance of the African-American role in string-band music was diminished, its sound and significance
co-opted by minstrel shows and segregated by record labels. CCD -- under the tutelage of nonagenarian fiddler player Joe Thompson, one of the last surviving Piedmont musicians - have reclaimed the old-time songs, making them vital and fresh for right now, reasserting in the process the African roots of the banjo.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops have won over crowds at the Newport Folk Festival, on such National Public Radio shows as Mountain Stage and A Prairie Home Companion, and on tours through Europe. Denzel Washington personally selected the trio to appear in his critically acclaimed 2007 directorial effort, The Great Debaters. In a review of a CCD Kennedy Center performance, The Washington Post declared, 'Their set was anything but academic... these instrument-swapping residents of Durham, N.C., kept the audience active with speedy strumming, jug-blowing and percussion via carved
hand-held bones and foot-banging syncopation.' The Boston Globe concurred: 'The acoustic trio - banjo, fiddle, guitar - managed the minor miracle of evoking a sepia- drenched era of mountain music... Giddens, Robinson and Dom Flemons, all multi- instrumentalists and vocalists, conveyed their deep knowledge with a sense of reverence and studied antiquity- including their simple, era-appropriate costumes - and a contagious, abundant joy.'
After two self-recorded independent releases, CCD chose to work with producer Joe Henry on Genuine Negro Jig. As with his production on Allen Toussaint's The Bright Mississippi, Henry emphasizes simplicity, clarity, interaction; with its striking lack of studio frills, the emphasis is on the spirit of these performances, which are often as intense as they are exhilarating.
Uptempo numbers like live-show favorite 'Cornbread and Butterbeans' and 'Sandy Boys' are immediate standouts, though slow-burning, moody tracks like 'Kissin' and Cussin' and 'Snowden's Jig (Genuine Negro Jig)' prove to be
downright haunting. The versatile Giddens performs the Celtic-style balladry of 'Reynadine' acapella; she's equally convincing taking lead on a brilliant recasting of the 2001 Blu Cantrell R&B-dance hit, 'Hit Em Up Style' Genuine Negro Jig starts out with the specific but winds up with the universal; this is music that has literally traveled continents and
centuries to achieve a brand new relevance, a shared history still in the making.

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CD Reviews

Bite it, purists!
Sound/Word Enthusiast | Rhode Island, USA | 02/18/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"...old-tyme stringband music is a weird field these days. It is experiencing a renaissance, for sure, but it often holds itself hostage by clinging to ridiculous, academic-bordering-on-religious notions of purity and authenticity. Whenever an inventive band like Uncle Earl or Old Crow Medicine Show starts to bend the rules a bit in the name of personal expression, there is a howling chorus self-appointed old-tyme police officers, complaining about how that's not how Gid Tanner/Joe Thompson/whoever would have done it.

This brave, swaggering disk shows that the Chocolate Drops are actually better when they play their own game. It's easily their most assured record yet -- their prior projects were pretty rough around the edges, even for stringband music. They don't have a towering instrumental virtuoso in the band, like the Freighthoppers' David Bass, Uncle Earl's Rayna Gellert, or the pervasive Dirk Powell -- their strengths lie in their adventurous spirit, intelligent use of space and texture, and infectious charisma. On this disk, they really make the most of careful arrangements, like on the haunting title track, which is just percussion and fiddle and yet feels genuinely evocative and full.

Producer Joe Henry wisely walks a fine line between documentary clarity and studio richness, giving the band a deep warm sound with lots of space and a cool stereo picture that still feels natural. This is really their first great album, and I only give it four stars because I think they are capable of even greater things in the future. I'm sure much will be made of the Blu Cantrell cover, but it's hard NOT to talk about...I saw them do it live a while back, and it set the place buzzing, brilliantly drawing a line from the ancient past to the present and into the future. I'd love to see them do more stuff like it...but at the same time, their old-tyme stuff like "Trouble in Your Mind" and "Cindy Gal" have never sounded better.

The world is ready for a band like the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I hope they continue to stay true to themselves and don't get lost in the old-tyme minefield of arbitrary rules and regulations. This record is a big step out of that minefield, and I really can't wait to hear what they do next."
Genuine Negro Jig is Genuinely Great Gigging
Rick Raymo | NorEaster | 02/17/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's an odd time for the music business. Big acts are making more via Rock Band and Guitar Hero than they ever made in album sales. Apple wants you to own Digital Rights Managed versions of anything you buy--and they compress it to boot. You can buy compressed versions above, for instant gratification, as long as you buy the CD as well. Well. If you care about audio clarity. ;-)

Simultaneously, it's a great time for music lovers. You see, unless you are trapped in Radioland via ClearChannel Communications and their versions of what ought to be heard by the public--we are seeing and hearing Indy Label Stuff that rises to the top in ways it couldn't have in the past fifty years. The Carolina Chocolate Drops are one such sweet reminder of greatness as it rises above the fray. (And man, do they!) As much as reviewers are going to want to put them in a pigeon hole? (They are Countrified OR Folk OR Roots-Music Or Bluegrass Or Whatever.) They can't and won't be able no matter where the origination of of style comes from--this band makes it unique. They OWN. They are their own. And with that mix of tradition and their outstanding talents--they surpass labels and are going to end up with the cross-over label from everyone. Which just means that they sell everywhere and are played as popular music. Deeply popular. That their musical talents (and this album in particular) are magnificent is an understatement. These three folks are destined for greatness (ideally together and for a long time.)

This particular set of tunes has had me immediately slam them on the home network, run out for a drive so that I could hear them in the car, get home and curl up on the couch with a great set of can-style headphones and a headphone amp (only to immediately jump up and turn on the audio equipment--subwoofers included and turn them up loud on both so I could feel and hear the music in a wider way...all while trying to Cakewalk around the living room.) In short, I want to hear it, feel it, and enjoy it in every way possible simultaneously. Man. I'd eat it if I could. And as such, this CD is now on my list of very few albums that have hit permanent rotation for the rest of my life. No tune is better than the others. They all flow in unexpected ways from one to the next. There isn't a single lick or simple-yet-astonishing audio trick missing to make this acoustic experience less powerful than the most electric and amped-up music I own.

Yes, stylistically there are great nods to lots of artists--but these three FULLY OWN their destiny/direction/dynamism and have cemented it with this single incredible album.

Buy it. Then buy it and gift it to everyone you think could have the ears and the heart and soul to appreciate it. (As you are fiscally able and as often as able.) There are very few albums that cross into the land where one feels that without it you are less. This one has.... Immediately I knew that without it, I'd be a poorer human and music would be a more desolate world.

It left me wanting more. I am saddened by the fact that with nearly eighty minutes on a Compact Disc, I get about half of that time. But that's OK. Maybe they are saving it for the next album and it is already recorded and ready to roll while they tour.

I want it at a higher bit-rate. No matter how good my audio equipment, I feel like 16-bit Redbook Audio isn't quite eeking out their range. Grin. Maybe T-Bone Burnett could be talked into remastering it via his 'Code' so we can have it on DVD as well. I suspect I'll be without this album multiple times, as I hand it off to someone, tell them to keep it--and order another via Amazon Prime (and give them their extra fiscal bump for Next Day delivery.)

Snowden's Jig (Genuine Negro Jig) seems more than appropriate as the cover cut as it is probably written by the black man who wrote "Dixie." That song ended up in minstral shows, and was satirized to the point where it became the Unofficial Confederate Anthem. It was later copyrighted by a white fellah named D.D. Emmet, who remained rather confused about Dixie's provenience. But we can be sure that Ben Snowden and the Snowden Family Band performed THIS jig. Kudos to the Carolina Chocolate Drops for giving the man his due, and just possibly gently slapping down some of the horrible musical theft that has been our heritage. Snowden's Jig (Yep. A Genuine Negro Jig) is not better than the other tunes on the album--it just fits--like everything about this CD.

The Universe lurched in a subtle and happy way when this album became a hit in Europe and has now zigged and jigged again when it released here.

More please?"
Energizing, adventurous and captivating.
jazzy modes | Vancouver, Canada. | 02/16/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Together since 2005, the North Carolina band has just released their new album "Genuine Negro Jig".

It's impossible to pigeon hole, and equally impossible to dislike, the Carolina Chocolate Drops are first and foremost musicians. Trained in all manner of styles, from opera to folk and most things in-between, the young black trio - Dom Flemons (guitar), Rhiannon Giddens (banjo and fiddle) and Justin Robinson (fiddle and banjo) - refuse to be tied to any one genre, are reviving and reinterpreting the African-American string-band tradition for the 21st century.

Given their base, in their repertoire, traditional jazz, folk and blues dominate. But then just when you think you've got the measure of them, Giddens blasts out a R&B number backed by Robinson's beatboxing, or jumps up to perform a Charleston.

Switching effortlessly between instruments, Giddens and fellow band members - trained by Joe Thompson, now in his nineties, who remembers the string-band heyday, and their aim is to keep the tradition developing - play fiddle, banjo, guitar, autoharp, kazoo and jug, with all three also doing a mean line in vocals.

Although they all sing, the guys, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson, leave most of the vocals to the opera-trained Rhiannon Giddens.

The group mix traditional songs with original compositions and a couple of surprising covers, allowing them to honour the past, then subtly nudge it forward linking it to the modern music they grew up with.

Band member Justin Robinson's own composition "Kissin' And Cussin" is a real standout, with its ominous ringing autoharp and drumbeats enhancing its sense of bluesy doom.

Classics such as "Cornbread and Butterbeans" and "Snowden's Jig" sit alongside their version of Tom Waits's "Trampled Rose": they turn the latter into syncopated country blues adding yet another layer of poignancy to an already heart-wrenching number.

The old English ballad "Reynadine" is sung by Rhiannon, as an acappella solo.

The big surprise, though, is the pickin', fiddlin' and slappin' version of Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'em Up Style", which totally countrifies an urban classic to create a tune that would be just as at home in hoedown as any blinging city nightclub.

In fact, one of the aces in this threesome's pack is their ability to transform songs you may now think of as genre classics back into their original milieu and invest them with that first-time-round freshness on each successive performance.

The album is extremely original, exciting and pleasant: much of its 38 minutes is just making all the connections between the different musics that would form an inter-continental melting-pot and criss-cross the seas.


Dona Got a Ramblin Mind"