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Pop to Drop!

Carolina Chocolate Drops. Courtesy photo

NC Symphony Pops
11/27, 3 p.m. • $12-$23
Northside High School Auditorium, JAX
Caroline Chocolate Drops
11/29, 8 p.m. • $6-$22
Kenan Auditorium, UNCW

Hear the season go pop! pop! pop! And drop! This week two concerts well worth admission price will have music lovers and holiday revelers in a jolly good mood. The NC Symphony Holiday Pops will play in Jacksonville on November 27th ($12-$23) at the Northside High School Auditorium and will return to UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium on December 13th ($28-$52).

Music Director Grant Llewellyn and conductor William Henry Curry will lead the helm of the North Carolina Symphony Holiday Pops. The annual showcase puts Christmas classics, Hanukkah masterpieces and holiday merriment at the forefront of sonic enjoyment. While every note is played to pristine rhapsody, the audience may even be asked to join in on the fun—musician or not! A sing-along of carols could be in the cards for all ages, youth, adults and seniors alike.

Founded in 1932, our state’s symphony annually performs 175 shows in the tradition of classical enjoyment (Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mozart), as well as pop-cultural references, like their Pops series which highlights singers-songwriters such as Billy Joel and Art Garfunkel during the regular season. The holiday tradition, however, focuses on the classics like “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “O Tannenbaum” and “The Nutcracker.” The symphony travels across the state between November and December, from Lincolnton to Kinston, to perform and enliven the spirit of the season. Tickets can be purchased to either NC Symphony Pops performance at

From pops to drops, slated to hit Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium on Tuesday the 29th is the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Their funky down-home rhythms are steeped in folk stylings and world-music traditions.

Like many pacts between friends, one promise made by Don Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson proved life-altering. During the warmer months of 2005, the three ventured to Mebane, North Carolina, every Thursday evening to visit with Joe Thompson, an 80-year-old fiddler. Thompson tailored his craft to mimic the musical stylings of many family generations before him.

What started as a weekly music lesson turned into a jam band, and then a full-fledged old-time string band—with a twist. The Carolina Chocolate Drops revived the fiddle, banjo and even the jug to create their own unique sound in the new millennium. Still, the members keep to their roots by honoring the history of black fiddlers, spreading tales of instruments made from gourds and, eventually, a marriage with the European violin. They not only share the stories of their musical ancestors, but they pay homage by playing traditional folk tunes—just as Thompson taught them.

Since its inception, Carolina Chocolate Drops has added beatboxer and tambourinist Adam Matta, as well as Hubby Jenkins (guitar, five-string banjo, bones) and lost Robinson. They earned a spot at Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival in 2006, became the first black string band to play the Grand Ole Opry in 2007, performed at Bonnaroo in 2010, and their release from the same year, “Genuine Negro Jig,” won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album.

Guests at the show can expect to hear Piedmont-inspired tunes that are rich with country twang like in “Cornbread and Butter Beans.” They also cover pop tunes, like their spicy string rendition of Blu Cantrell’s R&B single, “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!),” in which Giddens lets her sultry vibrato loose. Their unbridled passion for music is evident in the way their sounds ebb and flow. The beat pulses through them, and transcends time and location.

Tickets to the show are $6 to $22, and are available at Kenan’s box office or by calling (910) 962-3500. For more information on the Carolina Chocolate Drops, visit their website at www.

Carolina Chocolate Drops. Courtesy photo

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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