Nov. 8—ROCHESTER — How does a fife and drum corps evolve into hip-hop?
When Dom Flemons and different musicians put lyrics to the greater than century-old music custom from Georgia, that is what he heard.
“It was nice to see the beat and the heart beat of the music nonetheless held in a sure approach,” Flemons stated.
That is only one instance of the previous American music kinds Flemons brings from obscurity and breathes into them new life and interpretations. The Grammy Award successful musician is performing on the Rochester Civic Theatre Friday, Nov. 11.
His performances aren’t covers of previous tunes or an train in nostalgia. Flemons brings previous American kinds of music again to the current.
“It isn’t a lot that it is dwelling previously, but additionally one thing you possibly can relate to,” he stated.
Flemons’ performances are additionally a backdoor lesson in music, historical past and African American contributions to each. However do not count on any lectures.
“I by no means attempt to be too heavy-handed by way of the way in which individuals are studying, however I are likely to embed loads of concepts within the music itself,” he stated.
His most up-to-date solo album, “Black Cowboys,” launched in 2018, is about African Individuals who pushed west after the Civil Warfare. In a music about Bass Reeves, who hunted down fugitives as a U.S. Marshal, Flemons sings that Reeves “regarded each man he caught down lifeless within the eyes.”
With out getting too literal, it reveals Reeves, born a slave in Arkansas, was somebody who didn’t again down no matter racial attitudes within the U.S.
“On the time it was unlawful for a Black individual to look white folks within the eyes — you needed to look down,” Flemons stated. “A number of that also goes on in elements of the South.”
A few of his historical past classes are embedded within the music itself.
In his music, “Til’ the Seas Run Dry,” Flemons is placing his musical fingerprints onto a century-old New Orleans Jazz fashion.
Flemons mixes that with nation, blues, and, sure, fife and drum corps music into his repertoire all with a nod to Black performers who developed or contributed to the kinds.
Flemons wasn’t totally stunned to seek out including lyrics to an previous custom had flavors of contemporary hip hop. Hip hop’s roots return additional than the early Nineteen Seventies, which is the widely accepted timeline of its origin. Hip-hop has its roots within the greater than century previous folks custom of “toasting,” he stated.
Placing his musical takes onto previous genres hints at how music has, or might have, developed.
“One of many essential issues I’ve come throughout is that folk have a really slim view of what conventional music may be and ought to be,” he stated. “I am going to in all probability deliver out 20 totally different kinds of singing and enjoying in a efficiency.”
Flemons, 40, was born in Phoenix to African American and Mexican mother and father. As a teen, he started to analysis the sources of the oldies he heard on a neighborhood radio station after which dig deeper from there. As a younger grownup, he toured North Carolina studying music traditions there — usually from older musicians who developed sure musical kinds.
Flemons stated his mother and father, who have been Civil Rights activists, taught him to not concern among the boundaries society locations on Black males. Flemons discovered that his reverence and familiarity with musical traditions broke down these limitations. He started to turn out to be generally known as a Black nation musician.
“I used to be by no means uncomfortable being the one individual within the room,” he stated, including he noticed a must be taught and keep it up musical traditions that have been being left behind.
“I might discuss to folks 8 to 80, and so they felt empowered as a result of they felt like their work would dwell on.”
He was a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a Grammy Award-winning group that reintroduced older African American traditions into mainstream folks and nation music.
Flemons stated he does not think about himself a rustic musician. He payments himself because the “American Songster,” however was glad he may very well be part of the cultural shift opening nation venues to Black musicians. Sticking to at least one style ignores swaths of historical past, he stated.
“I wish to set vast, vast boundaries,” he stated.
What: Dom Flemons, “American Songster” on the Civic Theatre.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11.
The place: Civic Theatre, 30 Civic Middle Drive.
How A lot: