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More Carolina Chocolate Drops, Please

The Carolina Chocolate Drops totally kick ass. Don’t pass up an opportunity to see them live.

The missus and I spent the holiday weekend in the lovely Berkshires in Massachusetts, and on the Saturday evening, we went to Mass MoCA (that’s “Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art”) for an evening of music.

The opening act, The Duke and The King (named for the swindling hucksters in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), was frustrating. First of all, they’re either completely out of their gourds or just happened to be flying high on some form of psychotropic drugs on this particular evening. The music was a style that I could get quite into, I suspect. It’s self-described as “folk, soul, glam rock,” which isn’t an inaccurate description.

The sound balance was a bit off. The vocals were sometimes too loud, and all too often out of tune. They either weren’t listening to each other or couldn’t hear each other. And the group make-out sessions, if a bit endearing at first, just seemed to confirm our suspicions that they were on Ecstasy.

But then there were moments when they gelled as a group and sounded terrific. It was like they forgot their affected performance styles just long enough to get caught up in the actual music. In those moments, I really felt their potential. Seeing potential on stage can be both lovely and maddeningly frustrating.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops, on the other hand, were simply outstanding. There’s just no other way to describe them. They’re a trio of African-American musicians that play traditional bluegrass music, and as a live act, it’s electric stuff. The musicianship is terrific (they all play multiple instruments and have great singing voices). They seem to be having a great time, which is of course infectious as hell.

And unlike The Duke and The King, the Carolina Chocolate Drops let us in on the fun. They were just about putting on a great show. I can’t rave enough.

Today it’s a lot easier to find negative words to write a bad review (of the first band) than it is to find positive words for a good review (of the Drops). But seriously, if you ever have a chance to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops, do yourself a favor and go. Just go.

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