Carolina Chocolate Drops & Andy Statman
The Carolina Chocolate Drops are buttoned-up traditionalists, and Andy Statman is a wild-eyed fusionist, but put them on a bill together and they could make Virginia Senator and would-be good ol’ boy George Allen real squirmy. These are black and Jewish artists celebrating the ethos of their respective traditions with, of all things, bluegrass (or something close to it). It might impress musicologists that the trio of 20-somethings in the Carolina Chocolate Drops mine the legacy of the black string bands of the Piedmont Plain; however, their music is all simple pleasure: a breezy, fiddle-heavy old-time dance party where jigs are rendered with a bluesy edge and “Dixie” as a lilting lament. Andy Statman’s umpteenth album since the late ’70s is more complicated but also a pleasure: He plays the bluegrass mandolin to be-bop patter, with the virtuoso licks of a flashpot-dodging guitar god and the minor-key fits and starts of klezmer. Bigots can still get elected, but at least “Y’all” seems to be a burgeoning category.