Carolina Chocolate Drops

AC Entertainment Presents:

Carolina Chocolate Drops

The Two Man Gentlemen Band

Sunday, December 2

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$23 Standing / $28 Seated

$23 Standing / $28 Seated

This event is 18 and over

18 & Over with proper photo ID. no re-entry

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about our venue. I.E. parking, ID requirements, hotels, food, etc.

Absolutely no refunds - no exceptions. Lineups and times are subject to change. Your name, credit card, address, and email address will be verified. Ticketfly and Marathon Music Works reserve the right to cancel any orders in excess of the stated ticket limit. Any tickets suspected of being purchased for the sole purpose of reselling can be cancelled at the discretion of Marathon Music Works/Ticketfly.

Carolina Chocolate Drops
Carolina Chocolate Drops
“Tradition is a guide, not a jailer. We play in an older tradition but we are modern musicians.” —Justin Robinson
In the summer and fall of 2005, three young black musicians, Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, and Justin Robinson, made the commitment to travel to Mebane, N.C., every Thursday night to sit in the home of old-time fiddler Joe Thompson for a musical jam session. Joe was in his 80’s, a black fiddler with a short bowing style that he inherited from generations of family musicians. He had learned to play a wide ranging set of tunes sitting on the back porch with other players after a day of field work. Now he was passing those same lessons on to 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. They called themselves The Chocolate Drops as a tip of the hat to the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, three black brothers Howard, Martin and Bogan Armstrong, who lit up the music scene in the 1930’s. Honing and experimenting with Joe’s repertoire, the band often coaxed their teacher out of the house to join them on stage. Joe’s charisma and charm regularly stole the show.Being young and living in the 21st century, the Chocolate Drops first hooked up through a yahoo group, Black Banjo: Then and Now (BBT&N) hosted by Tom Thomas and Sule Greg Wilson. Dom was still living in Arizona, but in April 2005, when the web-chat spawned the Black Banjo Gathering in Asheville, N.C., he flew east and ended moving to the Piedmont where he could get at the music first hand. Joe Thompson’s house was the proof in the pudding.
The Chocolate Drops started playing around, rolling out the tunes wherever anyone would listen. From town squares to farmer’s markets, they perfected their playing and began to win an avid following of foot-tapping, sing-along, audiences. In 2006, they picked up a spot at the locally-based Shakori Hills Festival where they lit such a fire on the dance tent floor that Tim and Denise Duffy of the Music Maker Relief Foundation came over to see what was going on. Rhiannon remembers being skeptical when this local Hillsborough, N.C., guy with a goofy smile and a roster of old blues musicians offered to take them on and promote their music. The band was still figuring out who they were and Duffy was offering to house them with people like Algie Mae Hinton, musicians who were not pretenders to a tradition, but the real thing.
The connection turned out to be a great match. While the young “Drops” were upstarts in a stable of deep tradition, they were also the link between past and future. They began toexpand their repertoire, taking advantage of what Dom calls “the novelty factor” to get folks in the door and then teaching and thrilling them with traditional music that was evolving as they performed. They teased audiences with history on tunes like “Dixie”, the apparent Southern anthem that musicologists suggest was stolen by the black-face minstrel Dan Emmert from the Snowden family, black Ohio musicians who missed their warm, sunny home. The “Drops” gave new energy to old tunes like John Henry and Sally Ann, adding blues songs, Gaelic acappella, and flat-footing to the show.
The band moved up through the festival circuit, from the Mt. Airy Fiddler’s Convention to MerleFest. They shared the stage with their new fan, Taj Mahal, and traveled to Europe. In 2007 they appeared in Denzel Washington’s film, The Great Debators and joined Garrison Keiler on Prairie Home Companion. In 2008, they received an invitation to play on the Grand Ole Opry. “The Drops were the first black string band to play the Opry,” Duffy notes. “The Opry has a huge black following but you don’t see that on stage.” Opry host, Marty Stewart, pronounced the performance a healing moment for the Opry.
Off-stage, the connection to Music Maker Relief Foundation meant a place to record. In 2007, Music Maker issued Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind and, in 2009, Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson. In 2010, with the release of their Nonesuch recording, Genuine Negro Jig, the group confirms its place in the music pantheon. With its tongue in cheek, multiple-meaning title, the album ranges boldly from Joe Thompson’s Cindy Gal to Tom Waits’ Trampled Rose and Rhiannon’s acoustic hip hop version of R&B artist Blu Cantrell’s Hit ‘Em Up Style.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 OK to mix it up and go where the spirit moves.
The Two Man Gentlemen Band
The Two Man Gentlemen Band
Irreverent songwriters, expert instrumentalists, former street-performers, and consummate showmen, The Two Man Gentlemen Band has been barnstorming from coast to coast for half a decade, developing a reputation as a must-see live act on the roots and retro music circuits. A tenor guitar and string bass duo in the tradition of the great Slim & Slam, The Gents have obvious affection for pre-war American Jazz and Western Swing. But they're no period piece. The decidedly contemporary feel of their lyrics and the hilarious, often ridiculous, improvised banter that peppers their live shows combine with the music for a thoroughly modern ruckus. "It's as if," one reviewer commented, "The Smothers Brothers were young today, wore better suits, and wrote hot jazz songs about drinking." To The Gentlemen, that sounds about right.

To make their latest album, Two at a Time, (Available March 20th on Bean-Tone Records) The Gentlemen employed an extreme contrast of modern and old-fashioned techniques. They funded the project with an online fan-fundraising campaign via Kickstarter. But, once the budget was in place they switched their computers off for good and proceeded to record, design, and package the album without the use of any digital technology.

The Gents recorded live to monophonic analog tape in Pasadena, CA using exclusively 1940s and 50s microphones and equipment. Manning the tape machine was Wally Hersom, seasoned operator and collector of vintage recording equipment and former longtime bass player for Los Angeles contemporary rockabilly legend Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. Free of any digital effects, edits, or band aids, the result is a vibrant, honest document of a pair of musicians seasoned by years on the road, sounding just like they want to sound. There are mistakes, imperfections, and a bit of tape hiss, but it is The Gentlemen's energy, skill, and uncanny musical connection that shines through above all.

To package the CD and LP editions, The Gents turned to Stumptown Printers in Portland, OR. Using hand-set lettering, a refrigerator sized linotype machine (one of the few in the country still in operation), darkroom film prints, and an offset printing press, the folks at Stumptown created a one-of-a-kind package untouched by the graphic design software responsible for nearly every bit of printed matter one sees. If someone goes to the trouble of purchasing a physical CD or LP, The Gentlemen believe, it ought to come in a container worth holding on to.

Over the band's six previous albums, Andy Bean, singer, tenor guitarist & banjoist, and principal songwriter for the band, has developed a knack for writing "smart, funny, sharp-rhyming songs that put them in the company of classics like Louis Jordon and Louis Prima." (Boston Phoenix) His ten originals on Two at a Time continue in that vein. Foods, beverages, and generally having a good time are the dominant themes. Please Don't Water it Down describes how difficult it can be to find a well made drink when the only bar open in town is a chain restaurant. Pork Chops, Cheese & Crackers, and Tikka Masala cleverly blend cuisine and love. And Pool Party… well, who doesn't like a pool party? Acknowledging their increasing debt to early jazz and western swing, two obscure tunes learned from Jack Guthrie and Lil Hardin Armstrong, respectively, round out the record.

Throughout, The Gents limit themselves to two instruments: Bean's 4-string electric tenor guitar, played through a vintage 1937 Gibson amplifier, and Fuller Condon's upright bass. Audiences are consistently amazed that The Gents can raise such a ruckus as a duo. Two at a Time is the first of their albums to accurately capture that experience. Clever arrangements, "keen vocal harmonies" (The New Yorker), and "virtuosic playing" (The Herald – Glasgow, UK) that hasn't lost the ramshackle edge of their street-performing years make up for what the band lacks in size.

As ever, The Gentlemen, have a busy year ahead of them. Having relocated from New York City to dual home bases in Los Angeles and Charleston, SC (airplane travel isn't too much of a hassle for a two man band with little equipment and a folding upright bass!) they'll be hitting festivals and clubs all across the country. Their nationwide Two at a Time release tour begins March 20th.