Dom Flemons is the "American Songster," pulling from traditions of old-time folk music to create new sounds. As part of the Grammy winning band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, which he co-founded with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he has played at a variety of festivals spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry.
Flemons plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum and quills, in addition to singing. Flemons is currently pursuing a solo career, playing both solo gigs and shows with his two new bandmates, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons.
I have witnessed Dom Flemons on a number of occasions and it's really a site to see. He really has a blast on stage and the fun he is having is contagious. I caught up with Flemons as he was getting ready to pack up and head to Ashville for his first gig with the new trio!
What prompted you to start your solo project?
Basically Rhiannon (Giddens) and I couldn't agree on how to run the group (Carolina Chocolate Drops). We couldn't decide on a solution so I found the solution for me was to leave the group. And since the name of the band needs to go on, I removed myself from the situation. Right now I am just doing my own thing. I just got done recording a new record, it will come out in the summer. People know the Carolina Chocolate Drops but they don't know me initially. Some people do though, I tried to make it a point in the Carolina Chocolate Drops for everyone to be displayed individually rather than collectively. It was always the plan for me to do my own thing. So now I have my chance.
What can people expect to see at a Dom Flemons show?
What they have seen with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and more. I do a lot more styles, sing a lot more songs; both original songs and traditional songs. I will break out the crazy instruments I play like the quills, snare drum and the jug. There is a lot of stuff I wanted to do with the Carolina Chocolate Drops for a while but everyone was at a different skill level. I get to now take all those experiences I had with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and do it in a whole new way.
I play a lot of different songs but there are some songs you are just not going to hear me play in concert. These could be songs I have played for years and years but I'm just not going to play them. Some musicians get hangups on that, thinking that they have to give the crowd what they want. But if you play the same stuff over and over, you lose a part of your artistic expression. I'm just trying to break away from the normal pitfalls of musicians.
Any advice for local musicians?
I would recommend to get out of your town. If you stay in one town, there are three things that will happen. One, you may die a part time musician – which is ok, the touring life is very difficult and it's really not for everyone. Two, you die artistically because if you just have some bar gig and the same fan base comes to see you night after night, you may not move forward artistically. The third thing is that leaving town and coming back is so worth it. Hometown receptions are just so much fun.
You also have to treat it as a business, just like owning a hardware store.
w/ Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle
The Southgate House Revival
Monday April 7th
$10 ADV / $12 DOS
7:30p Doors / 8p Show