Bits: TV on the Radio, Over the Rhine, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Royal Bangs

  • Yay yay yay! TV on the Radio will be releasing a new album, Nine Types of Light, this spring. And April 13 will be TV on the Radio City Music Hall day as they play a gig at the famed New York venue to kick off a national tour. I’m a little excited.
  • Over the Rhine’s new album, The Long Surrender, drops today, and you can listen to it Spinner. (Nicole Atkins’ Mondo Amore is up there, too.)
  • It’s the day of streaming (for a given value of “streaming”), as Jessica Lea Mayfield’s latest, Tell Me, is up at Rolling Stone.
  • In sad news, Justin Robinson will be leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops. But CCDs will continue on with two new members, multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins and beatboxer Adam Matta.
  • Our friends at Citizen Dick have a track for you from the upcoming Royal Bands album, Flux Outside. The album is set for release on March 29.

To close out a live video of Over the Rhine performing “The Laugh of Recognition”.

The Laugh of Recognition from Sneak Attack on Vimeo.

Bits: the Dirtbombs, the Grande Ballroom, the Black Keys, Shivering Timbers, Jamie Stillman, Drive-By Truckers, Carolina Chocolate Drops

  • Stream the new Dirtbombs album Party Store at the Detroit Free Press. Do it now!
  • Speaking of the greatness of Detroit music, there’s a campaign on to fund a documentary called Louder than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story, about the enormous, once-majestic venue that played hosted to local Detroit legends like the Stooges and MC5 as well as national acts like the Who.
  • The Black Keys brought tales of urine-soaked minivans to NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday. Listen here.
  • Baby You Can Drive My Car shares a lovely performance and interview with Shivering Timbers.
  • The Akron Beacon Journal has a nice article on Jamie Stillman (he of Drummer, Harriet the Spy, Party of Helicopters, Relaxer and about umpteen other projects) and his effects pedal business, Earthquaker Devices.
  • The Drive-By Truckers reunited with Jason Isbell for an evening in Huntsville. You can download the show.
  • The Carolina Chocolate Drops have released a collaborative EP with Luminescent Orchestrii, and CCDs will begin their 2011 tour tomorrow in New York with a show at Lincoln Center.

Bit: Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Low Anthem

If you live in the American South, you’re going to be pretty fortunate come December because the Low Anthem and Carolina Chocolate Drops will be touring together there.

Dec 4, Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA

Dec 7, Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN

Dec 8, Bijou Theatre – Knoxville, TN

Dec 9, The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC

Dec 10, Neighborhood Theatre – Charlotte, NC

Dec 11, Lincoln Theater – Raleigh, NC

That thing you smell right now is the scent of my envy.

Bits: Conrad Plymouth, Americana Music Fest, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Plastic Ono Band, The Afghan Whigs, Ohio Hip Hop Awards, The Black Keys-ish

  • Conrad Plymouth has another beautiful song, a demo called “They Keep Everything So Clean”, up at their Tumblr.
  • The Americana Music Festival starts up tomorrow, and if you can’t make it to Nashville for the festivities in person, will be simulcasting the awards and honors show Thursday evening, according to the Carolina Chocolate Drops Twitter account (though I have yet to find any information about it on
  • Speaking of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, here’s a nifty mini-lesson from Dom Flemons on playing the bones.
  • The Plastic Ono Band has a pair of all-star gigs coming up in NYC on October 1 and 2. Special guests include RZA, Mike Watt, Iggy Pop, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon and Perry Farrell, among others.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio’s Midpoint Music Fest on September 23-25 will include a couple of Afghan Whigs-related highlights in the form of photographs by John Curley and a documentary entitled Ladies and Gentlemen: The Afghan Whigs. Details here.
  • The Ohio Hip Hop Awards and Music Conference will be hitting downtown Cleveland September 17-19. Details here.
  • And because I’m trying to get used to being a self-promoting hooer blogger, I invite you all to check out the guest post I wrote for the lovely Brucini over at the Black Keys Fan Lounge. It was an honor to be asked and a pleasure to do it.
  • I wanted to close this out with the new Flaming Lips Black Cab Session, but the embed is inoperable, so follow the link for a little delight.

The Hiram Rapids Stumblers & Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, 3.10.10

The first thing to stop me short after entering the Beachland Ballroom Wednesday night was the rows of chairs. The second thing was all the grayhairs who were sitting in those chairs. And they all seemed to know each other. I began to wonder if I’d missed news of a venue change or had somehow arrived on the wrong night. It was only when the Hiram Rapids Stumblers took the stage that I was sure I was at the right place at the right time.

The Hiram Rapids Stumblers setlist
I totally dropped the ball on this one. Here are the songs I’m sure they did:
Hop On Lula
Baltimore Fire

Yeah. I know they did an Uncle Dave Macon song concerning a mule and a semi-original composition that set a Langston Hughes poem to music, and there were a couple of tunes about gals with similar names (Susannah and Susie Anna?), but that’s as detailed as I can get. If anyone can help me fill out the information there, just drop me a line.

The Stumblers are a decent band – a downhome string band whom I suspect were toting moonshine in that shiny, little flask that sat in front of Scott Huge – but they seemed to be suffering from a slight lack of confidence. Perhaps, like me, they were put a little off kilter by the audience composition for the night. They did manage to build up a good head of steam for “Hop On Lula” and the little story about Scott riding a mule backwards while naked in the middle of the night was more along the lines of what I was expecting from this bunch. I’d like to see these guys again in a more intimate setting, perhaps with more liquid courage involved.

Carolina Chocolate Drops setlist
Trouble in Your Mind
Cindy Gal
Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine
Will Adams Breakdown
Two-time Loser
Sandy Boys
Peace Behind the Bridge
There’s a Brown Skin Girl Down the Road Somewhere (adapted by Flemons for harmonica)
Lights in the Valley
Black Annie
Snowden’s Jig (Genuine Negro Jig)
Cornbread and Butterbeans
Hit ‘Em Up Style
Sourwood Mountain
Travelin’ Shoes [encore]

Introduced by a vibrant woman (whose name I have shamefullly forgotten) from the Roots of American Music organization who met Carolina Chocolate Drops at that fateful Black Banjo Gathering where the seeds for the formation of the band were first planted, it was clear from the start that CCDs were there to entertain and educate. With Dom Flemons as the Performer, Rhiannon Giddens as the Mouthpiece (with a strong touch of the Performer) and Justin Robinson as the Quiet One, CCDs tore through a set heavy with songs from their new album, Genuine Negro Jig, and sprinkled with stories of where the songs came from and how CCDs came to the songs. It didn’t take long until everyone in the place, including (especially?) the comfortably-seated grayhairs, were whooping and hollering their appreciation. While CCDs don’t change up the songs they play much between album and stage, hearing those songs played live brings a whole different dimension, and the energy of the band is inarguable. Robinson spends most of the show standing while Flemons and Giddens are seated, but there is no shortage of motion from those chairs, Flemons windmilling his dobro and double-foot stomping (causing his stylish hat to fall off more than once, prompting someone behind me to comment that he needed a “hat roadie”) and Giddens chair-dancing. They engage the audience immediately with a warm and friendly rapport and build on that rapport with songs spanning genres from traditional string-band music to blues to R&B; to the gorgeous three-part harmony of the a capella show-closer.

With an education-minded band like the Carolina Chocolate Drops, you even get book recommendations. I have added to my to-read list Way Up North in Dixie: A Black Family’s Claim to the Confederate Anthem by Howard L. Sacks, which tells the story of the Snowden family of Mount Vernon, Ohio, whom, it is argued, taught the Confederate-minded tune “Dixie” to the historically-accepted composer of the song, Dan Emmett. As you can gather, “Genuine Negro Jig” was also a Snowden family song.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops will be coming back around in May for the Oberlin Folk Festival at Oberlin College (where Giddens went to school), and NTSIB greatly encourages all you NEOers to make the drive out to see them.

Carolina Chocolate Drops Official Website
The Hiram Rapids Stumblers MySpace
Roots of American Music
Music Maker Relief Foundation

Down the Old Plank Road: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Frank Fairfield & Blind Boy Paxton

As has been mentioned in a previous post – and as would likely be obvious from the overall content of NTSIB – I am a roots music fan. This used to mean mainly old blues: Robert Johnson, Son House, Howlin’ Wolf. It would be disingenuous to deny the role of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack album in opening me up to more styles of roots, or “old timey”, music, like Southern gospel-style music, string bands, bluegrass, etc., but it was the advent in my musical life of modern string band hustlers Old Crow Medicine Show that led me to discover that there are a number of young artists keeping the basics of the old music alive while also adding their own, up-to-date flair into the mix. One of the most exciting of those acts is the Carolina Chocolate Drops who are bringing the black string band tradition back to the forefront while evolving the possibilities of string band music with the injection of their modern sensibilities. This confluence of old and new is on exhilirating display in their treatment of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, performed below during their appearance on WDVX’s Blue Plate Special.


Carolina Chocolate Drops performing "Hit 'Em Up Style"


There are also artists who keep so closely to the essence of the original sounds and styles of roots music that they almost defy belief and have you checking the calendar to confirm what century you’re in. Frank Fairfield and Blind Boy Paxton are prime examples. And they look the part, Fairfield with his Brylcreemed hair and shirts buttoned up to the neck, a piece of rope serving as the strap on his banjo, and Paxton sometimes sporting a suit and fedora, sometimes a pair of overalls. Their sound is so authentic that you wait to hear the hiss and pop of old vinyl after each verse. Indeed, it’s so authentic that some have been led to ask, “Why bother?” Why recreate so precisely the sound of the old string bands or the old bluesmen when those original recordings are still available to hear? I’m sure part of the motivation is purely selfish: for the joy of playing the music. But Fairfield and Paxton also perform an important service to the music itself: they bring it to the attention to people who might otherwise not listen to old time music. If the old music is not listened to, it can’t continue to influence musicians today and, it could be argued, future music would lose much of its soul. Also, if old music is not listened to, it can’t be preserved, and the loss of these roots would be a shattering crime.


Plus, damnit, it’s just fun to listen to.


Here Fairfield and Paxton jam with Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops:

Nouveau Oldtime Jam: Blind Boy Paxton, Dom Flemons, Frank Fairfield (Boing Boing Video)


Old Crow Medicine Show Official Site

Carolina Chocolate Drops Official Site

Frank Fairfield MySpace

Frank Fairfield Daytrotter Session

Blind Boy Paxton MySpace

Bits: The Black Keys apart & together, Carolina Chocolate Drops on Fresh Air, mr. Gnome 7″, various tour dates