Old-time string-band revivalists the Carolina Chocolate Drops have been reconstructing and recombining deep-past American music so well and for so long now that the only time that they sound a little studied and demonstrative is when they set their archaic tools to modern grooves, as on intended singles such as “Country Girl” from their new release Leaving Eden or their cover of Blu Cantrell’s modern R & B hit “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” on Genuine Negro Jig.
Bands with such an explicit historical and cultural purpose will sometimes come off like scholars and (when robed for performance) nerdy reenactors. But in their default style – a fusion of jug band, Piedmont blues, gospel and any number of other string traditions – the Carolina Chocolate Drops sound loose, playful and blessedly free of self-conscious authenticity. They’ve done their research and completed their apprenticeships in the lost arts, and now they are just playing music that they love.
The Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops perform at Bard College’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, in the Sosnoff Theater, on Saturday, September 15. Ticket prices range from $15 to $40, $10 for students, and can be bought at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Fisher Center is located on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.