Carolina Chocolate Drops / Buckwheat Zydeco / Abigail Washburn
Central Park Mainstage (mid-park, 72nd St., Manhattan)
In 2005, three young musicians decided to travel every Thursday night to sit in the home of legendary fiddler Joe Thompson for a musical jam session. When the three students decided to form the Carolina Chocolate Drops, they did it mostly as tribute to Thompson, performing his music in dance halls. Specializing in traditional southern music but with a modern twist, the band was an upstart in a stable of deep tradition. With high profile shows including the Grand Ole Opry and the release of albums like Genuine Negro Jig and Luminescent Orchestrii, the group has confirmed its place in the music pantheon with Rolling Stone Magazine describing the band’s style as “dirt-floor-dance electricity.”
American musical legend Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr.—along with his band, Buckwheat Zydeco—is the preeminent ambassador of Louisiana zydeco music. Over the course of 30 years, Buckwheat Zydeco has gigged with everyone from Eric Clapton to U2. The New York Times says, “Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural leads one of the best bands in America. A down-home and high powered celebration, meaty and muscular with a fine tuned sense of dynamics…[and] propulsive rhythms.” 2009 marked Buckwheat Zydeco’s 30th anniversary, and Buckwheat celebrated with the release of his GRAMMY® Award-winning CD, Lay Your Burden Down.
If old-time music is about taking earlier, simpler music-making as one’s model, Abigail Washburn has proven herself to be a bracing revelation to that tradition. She—a singing, songwriting, clawhammer banjo player—is every bit as interested in the present and the future as she is in the past. With her newest release, City of Refuge, Washburn crosses over into something completely different than her fusion of American folk with far-flung sounds. The album, a sublime marriage of old-time and indie-pop is an expansive palette of supple, modern textures; some coaxed from acoustic sources and some electronic, but all remarkably harmonious.