Thursday, September 12, 2013
7:30 PM in Wait Chapel
In early 2012 Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops released their studio album Leaving Eden (Nonesuch Records) produced by Buddy Miller. The album was recorded in Nashville and features Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, guitarist Hubby Jenkins, and the band’s newest touring member, New Orleans native Leyla McCalla on cello/vocals and banjo.
The Chocolate Drops got their start in 2005, when every Thursday night they would travel to sit in the home of old-time fiddler Joe Thompson for a musical jam session. Joe was in his 80s, a black fiddler with a short bowing style that he inherited from generations of family musicians. Now he was passing those same lessons onto a new generation. When the three students
decided to form a band, they didn’t have big plans. It was mostly a tribute to Joe, a chance to bring his music back out of the house again and into dance halls and public places.
With their 2010 Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig—which garnered a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy last year—the Carolina Chocolate Drops proved that the old-time, fiddle and banjo-based music they’d so scrupulously researched and passionately performed could be a living, breathing, ever-evolving sound. Starting with material culled from the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, they sought to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, highlighting the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago. The virtuosic trio’s approach was provocative and revelatory. Their concerts, The New York Times declared, were “an end-to-end display of excellence… They dip into styles of southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—string- band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz—and beam their curiosity outward. They make short work of their instructive mission and spend their energy on things that require it: “flatfoot dancing, jug playing, shouting.”
Rolling Stone Magazine described the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ style as “dirt-floor-dance electricity”. If you ask the band, that is what matters most. Yes, banjos and black string musicians first got here on slave ships, but now this is everyone’s music. It’s okay to mix it up and go where the spirit moves.
Secrest Signature Pre-Performance Talk
Laurelyn Dossett | 6:40 PM | Wingate 302
Singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett lives and writes in the piedmont of North Carolina, and her songs tend to reflect the stories of the region, both traditional and contemporary. One of the most sought-after voices in creative collaborations, she co-founded Polecat Creek with singing partner Kari Sickenberger in 1997. Laurelyn is a frequent performer at regional music festivals such as Merlefest and has been a guest on the radio show Prairie Home Companion. She has toured with folk legend Alice Gerrard and songwriter Diana Jones, and premiered composer Kenneth Frazelle’s song cycle, “Songs in the Rear View Mirror,” in 2010, and has toured with the North Carolina Symphony in 2009 and 2011. She wrote “Leaving Eden,” the title track for the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops’ 2012 release.
In recent years Laurelyn has partnered with Triad Stage’s Preston Lane on four plays featuring regional folklore and original music: Brother Wolf (2006), Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity (2006), Bloody Blackbeard (2008) and Providence Gap (2010). An adaptation of Bloody Blackbeard toured NC schools in 2009, and both Brother Wolf and Beautiful Star are published by Playscripts and have gone on to have professional productions in cities across the U.S. A song from Brother Wolf, “Anna Lee,” was featured on Levon Helm’s Grammy-winning record, Dirt Farmer, is included in the documentary film about Helm’s life, called “Ain’t in it for my Health,” and is featured on the 2011 Grammy-winning cd Levon Helm’s “Ramble at the Ryman.”
Commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony, Dossett and the symphony premiered her new song cycle, “The Gathering: A Winter’s Tale in Six Songs, in November 2011. She performed with singer and fiddler Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, legendary Nashville mandolinist Mike Compton, and North Carolina’s own banjo virtuoso, Joe Newberry. The accompanying cd, “The Gathering,” was released to critical acclaim, including top holiday picks from the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and USA Today.
2012 promises to be another year of creative collaborations, with a composition/performance commission with violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), a new play with Preston Lane, and a December tour with “The Gathering.” Her song “Leaving Eden” is the title track of the new release by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Laurelyn has taught songwriting and singing at the Augusta Heritage Center, as well as at many universities, workshops and festivals. She is the 2012 recipient of the Betty Cone Medal of Arts, the 2010 recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship for songwriting, 2004 winner of the Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest, and a 2010 fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She lives with her family in Greensboro, NC.