Saturday, April 4, 2015

C is for Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry, & Carolina Chocolate Drops

  Chubby Checker
or Earnest Evans
is an American singer and songwriter who fused his R&B sound with a bit of funk and rock & roll. Widely know for the song "The Twist", he re-created the "The Twist" song also creating the famous dance which became a rock and roll hit in the 1960s and still continues to be one of the most popular and recognized songs to this day. He was born on Oct 3rd, 1941 in Spring Gulley, South Carolina. He began singing on the streets of Philadelphia when his family moved there and gaining attention until he signed a record deal with Cameo- Parkway Records in 1959.  He recorded Hank Ballard's song "The Twist" and appeared on the television show "American Bandstand" making the song an instant hit and the number one dance during the time.  He is said to have been highly influenced by Fats Domino and Elvis Presley.  
    He continued to have success; which led to Nabisco featuring Chubby Checker in an Oreo Cookie commercial which according to was one of the company's most successful commercials ever in their history. Evans also went on to star in two films that were built around the "Twist craze", "Twist Around the Clock" in 1961 and "Don't Knock the Twist" in 1962. Chubby Checker continues to this day to do shows occasionally, in fact on April 10th, 2015 he will be joining Jerry Lee Lewis at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury to perform a few of his greatest hits, For more info check out this site below. What a treat it would be to see him live!

  Chuck Berry is an American rock and roll legend, known as "the Father of Rock & Roll" and has been credited by some as coining the term rock n roll, however that is up for others to decide. Nonetheless, Berry is most known for his songs such as "Maybellene" , " Riding Along In My Automobile" and " Roll Over Beethoven" just to name a few. He was born on October 18th, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri. He took inspiration from acts such as Nat King Cole and Muddy Waters, he got his start at a high school recital by singing a Jay McShan song.
   Berry signed on to Chess Records in 1955 and released his first album titled "After School Session" in 1957. He went on to release nineteen more albums afterwards, solidifying his stardom. "Maybellene" reached the number five spot on the pop charts and number one spot on the R&B charts, which turned Berry into a star. He brought both black and white crowds together and continued his success which led to him appearing in many television programs and movies. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 (My birth year!)

Carolina Chocolate Drops is a string band that fuses acoustics, bluegrass, "jug music", country and rock together to create their sound. I just so happened to stumble upon this band after listening to a couple of their songs on YouTube. After listening to their music it had me wondering why had I not heard o them until now? This band is unique and ahead of it's time. I just love the way they bring different genres of music together to create their own sound; and the best part of it all is that they aren't all over the place with their music and their sound is consistent through and through.
   Rhiannon Giddens who plays the banjo and fiddle and provides the vocals, Dom Flemons plays the guitar, jug, and harmonica, Justin Robinson also plays the banjo and fiddle; together they make up the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Sule Greg Wilson plays percussion sometimes for the band. This group met and formed their band in 2005 after they met at a Black Banjo gathering. They went on to debut their first album titled "Dona Got a Ramblin Mind" and released three more before they began getting recognition for their work. They went on to win a Grammy Award for best traditional folk album for their 2013 album "Genuine Negro Jig" at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.
    Despite much success, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson ended up leaving the group; followed by two more members (Adam Matta and Leyla McCalla) who were added to the group after Flemons and Robinson left. However, Matta and McCalla eventually left the group as well. The remaining members of the group today are Rhiannon Giddens who continues to play the banjo, fiddle, kazoo and do vocals, Hubby Jenkins plays the guitar, mandolin, banjo and bones, Rowan Corbett also plays the guitar, bones, snare drum, cajon and djembe drum, and lastly Malcolm Parson who plays the cello. The group continues to tour and release new music; in fact Giddens( Who I touch more on later when I get to the letter R) released a solo album titled "Tomorrow is my Turn" in Feburary of 2015, she has such awesome songs on that album; I can't wait for you to heart them! Then again, you don't have to wait, check her out now!



  1. Love Chubby Checker and Chuck Berry--a couple of icons and innovators there. But, wow, thank you so much for introducing me to Carolina Chocolate! They're fantastic, and Rhiannon Giddens is an amazing vocalist--such a cool blend of styles.