Concert Previews

The Carolina Chocolate Drops will play in Wilmington.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops will play in Wilmington. (Crackerfarm)
Posted: February 24, 2012

Carolina Chocolate Drops

The Carolina Chocolate Drops have parlayed their deeply traditional, roots-based music into wide-ranging popularity, especially among a younger crowd not typically drawn to old-time music. That is partly because of the vibrancy of their approach to the African American string-band music of North Carolina's Piedmont region, partly their willingness to sprinkle contemporary covers among traditional fiddle or banjo tunes, and partly that their live performances usually turn into energetic hoe-downs. And although the Drops - Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens and new member Hubby Jenkins - trade instruments and vocals equally, it's Giddens whose soulful singing steals the show on the new Buddy Miller-produced Leaving Eden. Cellist Leyla McCalla sits in on the record, and she will join the trio at Wilmington's World Cafe Live at the Queen, with Philly's Hoots and Hellmouth opening. Bring dancing shoes.

- Steve Klinge

Carolina Chocolate Drops with Hoots & Hellmouth plays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at World Cafe Live at the Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington. Tickets: $23-$45 advance, $25-$47 day of show. Information: 302-994-1400,

Zee Avi

She hails originally from Kuala Lumpur, but one might not guess it from Ghostbird, Zee Avi's charming second album for Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records. Although Avi, born Izyan Alirahman, sings one track in her native Malaysian, the album is full of breezy singer-songwriter pop that slides neatly alongside work from the Bird & the Bee, Feist, and Bebel Gilberto, with whom she shares the Brazilian producer Mario Caldato Jr. She dabbles in jazz (on the Blossom Dearie-like "Madness"), reggae ("Roll Your Head in the Sun") and looped R&B ("Concrete Walls," which receives extended remix treatments on a new EP). But her m├ętier is easygoing acoustic guitar tunes like "Milestone Moon" and "Swell Window" that keep the focus on her clear, direct voice.

- S.K.

Zee Avi with Geology plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday at MilkBoy Philly, 1100 Chestnut St. Tickets: $12-$14. Information: 215-925-MILK,

Charlie Gracie

He was the first rock-and-roll star to come out of Philadelphia with his 1957 smash "Butterfly." Charlie Gracie then went on to inspire many of the young musicians who would become the first generation of British rock superstars - artists such as Paul McCartney and Graham Nash, who still revere him. Now, at 75, the South Philly native and Drexel Hill resident is enjoying a new wave of attention with a scorching, Billboard-charting single, "Baby Doll," and a terrific album, For the Love of Charlie. It is coproduced by rock luminary Al Kooper and features guest appearances by Nash, Peter Noone, and guitarist Jimmy Vivino. Couldn't have happened to a nicer and more deserving guy. And here's a chance to see the singer and dynamite guitarist really up close.

- Nick Cristiano

Charlie Gracie, at 3 p.m. Saturday at Main Street Music, 4444 Main St., Manayunk. Free. Information: 215-487-7732.