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Banjo Legend Dom Flemons Comes to the Thomas Auditorium

Dom Flemons, founder of Carolina Chocolate Drops. Photo by Aaron Greenhood

On Thursday, January 25, the Center for Cultural Preservation will host An Evening with Dom Flemons, featuring Grammy Award-winning banjo player Dom Flemons. The program will begin at 7 p.m. in the Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College. The show is part of the Center’s Keeping the Fires Burning series, which celebrates the heroes of Southern Appalachian mountain culture.

Flemons co-founded the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a traditional, African American string band, in 2005. In 2010, the band earned a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album and has continued to pioneer the incorporation of oldtime and bluegrass traditions into mainstream music. “I think old-time music is always appealing because it is deceptively simpler than other types of music,” says Flemons. “It’s really accessible and easy.”

Flemons has dedicated his musical career—both as a solo artist and a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops—to highlighting the impact of African Americans on southern music. “When we think of American music, of course there is this European influence, but what makes it American is the extra flavors,” says Flemons. “Alongside the great tunes from Ireland and Scotland were the African American and Native American traditions. When those things combine, it’s perfect.”

David Weintraub, executive director of the Center for Cultural Preservation, says the audience will be able to hear all of Flemons’ influences while listening to his music. These influences include ragtime, Piedmont blues, spirituals, southern traditional music, string band music, jug-band music and fife and drum music. “Through his performance, the stories he tells and the history he relays, the audience will be touched by the power this blended tradition has and continues to have on American music,” says Weintraub.

The Center for Cultural Preservation is a cultural nonprofit organization dedicated to working for mountain heritage continuity through oral history, documentary film, education and public programs. Tickets for this show are $15 and advanced reservations are strongly recommended by registering online at or calling the Center at (828) 692-8062. The Thomas Auditorium is located at 180 West Campus Drive in Flat Rock.

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