ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Carolina Chocolate Drops is a string band that mines the rich veins of black American music. And the North Carolina-based band has done it successfully.
Their 2010 album, “Genuine Negro Jig,” was a clear sign of their success. It won a Grammy. Another sign is the fact that the band recently performed in the Library of Congress.
“We’re doing a talk and a performance in Coolidge Auditorium. It’s a very famous place,” said Dom Flemons, who plays guitar, banjo and percussion. “Many great recordings have been made there. Jelly Roll Morton did. Mississippi John Hurt. … It’s a real honor just to sit in the same room where those guys got to it.”
The other regular members of the band are Hubby Jenkins, who sings and plays guitar and mandolin, and Rhiannon Giddens, who sings and plays fiddle and banjo.
For this year, the ensemble is joined by guest artist Leyla McCalla, a cellist who also signs and plays banjo.
The band’s eighth and newest album is titled “Leaving Eden,” which has originals and traditional songs. It was released as a CD about a month ago and came out on vinyl several weeks ago.
“Everybody in the band was involved in writing the music on the CD. People who have gotten advance copies have really enjoyed it,” Flemons said.
An NPR program played the cut “Country Girl” from the album.
Special guests on the CD included McCalla and beat boxer Adam Matta of New York City. Matta is heard on “Country Girl” and “Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man?”
The band also is heard on a four-song EP with the Luminescent Orchestra of Brooklyn, N.Y.
“They do music similar to us, plus a lot of Eastern European music, klezmer with punk and hip-hop elements. It’s quite a mixture of stuff,” Flemons said.
“Since the beginning (of our band) we’ve tried to be progressive and expansive with the string music that we do, and there are different ways of doing that.”