Genuine Negro Jig
No less than five people have remarked to me in the past few days the oddity of me playing a bluegrass record and seeming to enjoy it. The Carolina Chocolate Drops are simply a great band, regardless of genre. Three 20-somethings who met at the doorstep of legendary fiddler Joe Thompson, they attack classics of the style with an undeniable energy and attitude. Their latest, a Joe Henry production, swings. Covers range from Papa Charlie Jackson and Etta Baker to Anne Briggs and Tom Waits. The centerpiece, however, is their live staple cover of ’90s R&B hit “Hit Em Up Style” by Blu Cantrell. The totally unexpected cover is at first outrageous and ultimately outstanding. If only all of the “old” musical styles could take themselves off the shelf and play with such fervor and interest and stop treating jazz, blues, classical, bluegrass and folk as museum pieces. Respect the old ways as art, sure, but respect doesn’t have to mean boring.