The Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-time, all-black string trio from Durham, will be playing at the Schomberg Center for Research in Harlem on May 1. These guys (and girl) are worth checking out for a number of reasons, but here are three really good ones: 1. They’re keeping the tradition of the African-American string band alive, and infusing it with new and fresh sounds (just listen to their beat-box cover of “Hit ‘Em Up Style” and you’ll know what I mean) ; 2. They share and swap instruments, which is cool when those instruments are guitars and drums but mind-blowing when they’re fiddles, claw-hammer banjos, kazoos and jugs; and 3. In this politically charged, “post-racial” world, they weren’t afraid to name their latest album “Genuine Negro Jig.”
If you miss the May 1 uptown show, don’t worry: You can catch the trio performing alongside Conan at Bonnaroo this summer. Or hear them play Spoleto in Charleston. Or the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Their schedule is booked solid through the rest of this year, and, I would imagine, for much of the foreseeable future.