Live: Carolina Chocolate Drops at Royce Hall
LATimes - almost 5 years
About halfway through the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ gig at Royce Hall on Friday night, singer, stringed-instrument player, dancer and all-around show-stopper Rhiannon Giddens picked up a big, old banjo with a body the size of a hubcap and covered in goatskin. Called a minstrel-style banjo, it’s a replica of an instrument from the mid-1800s, and when played reproduced the same deep, echoed plonk that traveled over from Africa with the slave trade.
Giddens and co-founder Dom Flemons had already swapped out instruments a few times, juggling guitars, banjos, harmonicas, jugs, bones and fiddles among themselves and the phenomenal New York instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins while cellist Leyla McCalla bowed and plucked roaming bass lines. But this minstrel-style banjo was so filled with symbolic importance that it deserved its own introduction, and as Giddens and her kindred spirits plucked out “Brigg’s Corn Shucking Jig,” from the group’s new album, “Leaving Eden,” the sound of early American