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Old Time Music was made to be made by young people
on November 18, 2006
Too much of the vision of Old Time Music, Black or white, is a misimpression set by the old veterans of the 1920s and 1930s music who were brought back to public attention in the late 1950s and 1960s as sixty, seventy, and even eighty-year olds. The idea of an old time musician was of a wizened old white man, playing music sometimes masterfully, sometimes in manner that reflected their age and distance from playing in a living tradition. In those years young old time musicians (remembering myself as a teenager now) affected the manners of the ancient, in an attempt to be "old timey." Sometimes, as I remember us back in the day, one would be afraid if we late teens on the band stand would keel over and die.
The Dock Boggs, Tom Ashleys, Roscoe Holcombs, and Maybelle Carters of the 1960s were paying music they played when they were hot young people, playing for other young people, playing music of the kind that wild folk who got in trouble, got wild, and played music for people to dance, party, and seek affection to.
My own generation is now reaching the age of the old performers we rediscovered in the 1960s. That and miseducation make too many of our performances even senile, museum piece replications with an educational purpose, rather than good music.
Such is not the case here. You may find this the kind of music to be played to wake the dead or even enliven old farts like me
The Carolina Chocolate drops reverse this trend.It's a good point and word for the wise that the drops indicate each one's age in the liner notes. It is not that they are African Americans playing string band music, but it is that their approach is of young people, thorough musicians, but young people playing this music the way it was intended to be played, as exciting, not always perfect, music to evoke fun, dancing, impure thoughts, and throwing your body and soul into joy.
The band's strength is the great fiddling of Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson. Of course, that fiddling works best with the expert support from the guitar, banjo (tenor, five, and six-string),jug, drum, and general exhortation of musical savant and songster Dom Flemmons. Anyone interested in good old time rhythm banjo and guitar (the most neglected thing in the world of old time music) needs to study this CD.
The music isn't always over technical or overly masterful, but it is much more musical, dancing, bouncing, swinging and fun then a lot of recordings I have of more skilled fiddlers. It is really real. It makes even senile seat addicts like me know one is isn't alive if one does not dance and dance to music like this.
This is why I like the band pieces on this CD much better than the solo pieces, because I think they have a loseness and joy which a number of bands that have been together longer don't keep or find difficulty in achieving. Lets hope that they don't lose this as they become more practiced.
My personal favorites are the pieces that seem to be influenced by their collaboration with African American Heritage fiddler Joe Thompson of Mebane North Carolina. These include Dona Got a Ramblin Mind, Ol Corn Likker, Black Annie, Georgie Buck, and Black Eyed Daisy. I also am fond of their version of Sourwood Mountain, since that song has been done to death as a public school and camp song and by folkies who know nothing about old time music. They infuse the song with a lot of fun excitement and danciability that makes it a lot of fun.
If you can't get enough from the clips here, they are played regularly on the Old Time Music radio program on live 365 Internet radio. Listening to that will get you to buy this CD.
However, anyone with ears should buy this CD. If you dont have the money, get a job. If you cannot get that job, you may have to steal one, because you need it.