Written by Alexandra Flentje // Photography by Bryce Lafoon Photograhy
The Carolina Chocolate Drops graced the Brooklyn Arts Center stage on Wednesday, February 26, and the floor of the BAC was packed with music lovers who danced, clapped, and sang along. Blair Walton and Chris Lee of Pipeline Event Management promoted the spectacular sold-out show and were thrilled with the concert. “We thought this was a great space for CCD. The character of the old church fits the style of the band to a T,” said Walton.
Alex Lanier and Eric Miller of L Shape Lot Duo kicked off the night with energy that demonstrated why they are one of the most popular locals bands in town. Their opening set established the tone for the night as dancing-room-only because no one could stand still from the very first song. “It was cool and a lot of fun. We’ll always come play at the BAC,” said Lanier.
After the crowd was warmed up, the Carolina Chocolate Drops took the stage to a roar of excitement. “We walked in and were like whoooah…all right!” said singer, fiddler, and original member Rhiannon Giddens. “We’ve got great crowds in lots of different places, but North Carolina is definitely our anchor.” The American roots/folk band started out in Durham and loves returning home for shows. “It’s beautiful that the band started out here. North Carolina has done a great job of embracing us and supporting us from the beginning,” said multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins. “The crowd really helped us with our energy on stage.”
CCD shared a super-cool in-concert history lesson about the some of the songs they were playing and some of the instruments they were playing them on. Some of that history reached all the way back to the time of American slavery. “We have a lot of history, good and bad, but you can’t throw out the good with the bad,” Rhiannon told the crowd. “Our music may have some sad history, but it focuses on the good that came out of it.” The song with the biggest response was “Come Love Come,” a re-imagined folk song based on Rhiannon’s passion for history. “That one definitely had people responding the whole way through,” Rhiannon said.
Toward the end of the show, Rhiannon acknowledged that North Carolina artists had crafted all of the CCD merchandise—for sale in the BAC lobby. “Homegrown music, homegrown merchandise, and a homegrown crowd. Be sure to support where you are,” Rhiannon said.
First-time listeners became lifetime fans based on the powerful connection the band made with the audience. “I’m a new fan,” said Anthony Jones. “I heard about the show on the radio and loved how they promoted keeping it local. They definitely performed beyond expectation.”
After the Carolina Chocolate Drops finished the set, the crowd cheered them back to the stage for an encore. Before the music started, Rhiannon couldn’t resist holding up her tablet to take a photo of the excited crowd. “I used to do it a few years ago, and I’ve got to start doing it again,” she said. “Especially with a crowd like that, where you can see everyone’s faces; it’s so great. We’ll do theaters where we are really far away and can’t really see, but it just makes a big difference,” said Rhiannon.