Celtic Connections is a festival that should remind us all of the true great worth of roots music. It should bring people together. Far beyond the wonders of Scottish and Irish traditional music, we find acts of genuine class like the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Sweet as their name suggests, this Durham, North Carolina trio entertained a near-capacity crowd at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall.
First off, we were treated to some beautiful celtic music courtesy of Gilliam Frame (fiddle), Fiona MacAskill (fiddle), and Anna Massie (guitar). Truly, it was a joy to hear, but a wonderful sight also. On this performance, it's no wonder that these girls are in constant demand within the field of roots music in Scotland. Remember the names.
In less sedate confines, the Carolina Chocolate Drops could incite riots with their performances. There's perhaps a modicum of contention in the previous statement, but I assure you, it's meant in the most positive of way.
From the get-go, there seemed a strange and wonderful quality to the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Their musical proficiency as individuals was never in doubt and together they recreated the music that shaped and defined old America. However, you'd be a fool to think of them as an act lost in time. While their set encompassed a wide range of traditional American music - blues, jazz, and country all there - their superb rendition of Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style" drew more a few hollers from the younger fraction of the audience.
Now, back to my first point. The Carolina Chocolate Drops have immense appeal. The more rowdy members of the folk crowd will have no trouble getting up and dancing to their sound while those who feel less threatened by seated concerts may take umbrage. Siding with the former, I believe the only downside to this concert was a lack of free-spirited dancing. This was no fault of the band who were readily encouraging it.
Having witnessed this performance, it's clear that the Carolina Chocolate Drops are serious students of their music, taking immense pride in their past. But it doesn't mean they can't have a damn good time doing it. If their enjoyment was equal to that of the audience, then I guess they'll be back.