Went on a mini-road trip with my brother and my friend Ashley to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops at Eastern Kentucky University. I am somewhat adverse to sharing music, since it seems like I never agree with anyone as to what constitutes good music (okay, that's not entirely true, but here in Northern Kentucky, I just don't know many other people who listen to rap, period). But in any case, here it is:
The Carolina Chocolate Drops were featured in issue of Pluck!, so there's some Affrilachian connection there, but beyond that, they're just a really amazing band. Besides the sheer range of instruments each person can play, Rhiannon Giddens danced the Charleston at one point. I mean. Seriously. Danced the Charleston.
A part of me doesn't want to go into this, because I know as artists, they are probably like me; simultaneously proud of their black heritage, but unwilling to be the token example of diversity.
But I don't know, something about performing your art outside of where you are 'welcome,' and still winning over the audience has always really inspired me. TCCD performed Hit 'Em Up Style at the Grand Ole Opry and got a standing ovation. I'm not just talking about blacks performing in mainstream, though. Or in this case, blacks in an old-time string band, which you might not expect. No, I mean any culture pushing into any other, and being appreciated for what it has to offer.
And it's not the classic underdog situation. Not to me. It's more about how art, done well, can so often bridge gaps between us. Often, that bridge is as transient as the band playing, or the poem being read, and the people who willfully hate a culture or people will go on hating, despite that one good memory they have of something that transcended them.
But every so often, art proves to be what connects us, no matter the distance we engender between us, or any real physical separation that we can do little to overcome. It's much harder to hate, or to misunderstand, someone the more you find to love about them. Which is why it's so easy for someone to steal from a stranger, and is often so hard for them to do it from their own mother. Art can complete us, as a people.
And I think that's the truest testament to good art, and the noblest notion that it can achieve.