Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NEAF '13 Feature Artist: Ethan Robbins of Cold Chocolate

There is little more I love in life than bluegrass music (Ok, maybe my wife, my cats, and my family and friends). Cold Chocolate plays a style of bluegrass that is so ridiculously good, that I guess I really love Cold Chocolate too. Singer and guitarist, Ethan Robbins has a depth and soul to his voice that blends certain aspects of soul and blues music into their traditionally instrumented sound, creating a unique quality that makes their music far more than a couple pickers playing Bill Monroe tunes. This is something special. High energy, excellent harmonies, and , of course, killer picking from the group makes Cold Chocolate an experience that you won't want to miss out on. Ethan took a few minutes to tell us about the band and being a part of this year's New England Americana Festival.

1)      First and foremost, who are you, what do you do? That is, what band are you in or are you a solo
artist, what have you guys been up to leading up to the festival, anything exciting we should all know about? Your chance for shameless self promotion…go!

ER: Cold Chocolate is creating an exciting and unique new sound in the world of Americana: bluegrass and roots with a dash of funk.   With original tunes and technical prowess, this four-piece band from Boston is rocking audiences with guitar, banjo, upright bass, drums, and four-part harmony.  In 2013, Cold Chocolate was featured at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Bluegrass on the Bogs, as well as on the main stage at the Ossipee Valley Music Festival at the end of this past July.  CC will also be showcased at the FreshGrass Festival at Mass MOCA in September.  Check us out at

2)      New England Americana and the Fest firmly plant their roots and morals in “community”. The event is a culmination of a community of musicians and artists that is going on all year. What does that community mean to you?

ER: The Boston Americana community is simply the greatest in the world.  Every musician you meet is genuinely interested in sharing their time, knowledge, and musical prowess with one another.  Even though there are quite a number of killer musicians in the area, everyone tries to help out their fellow musicians, and no one steps on any one else's toes.  Boston has such a rich music scene, and so many people who support local music, we feel truly lucky to be a part of it.

3)      Name a record that shaped you as a musician early on. What music initially made you want to sing, or pick up an instrument and make music?

ER: Originally a classical violinist, I fell in love with the guitar when I turned fourteen, and my father bought him five quintessential albums: The Band’s “Music from Big Pink,” Bob Dylan’s “Bringing it all Back Home,” John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aereo-plane,” Hank Williams “Live at the Grand Ole Opry,” and the Grateful Dead’s “Workingman’s Dead.”  Ever since, I have attempted to bring those raw, rootsy sounds into my own original material.

4)      What are you listening to now that you think folks should be aware of?

ER: You HAVE to check out The Stray Birds.  Just a phenomenal band and a great group of folks.  They are playing Club Passim on November 22, do yourself a favor, and GO!

5)      Music  festivals, in general,  are fairly well known for surprise sit ins, improvisational jams and collaborations. If you could see any two of this year’s acts collaborate on stage at this year’s NEA Festival, who would you like to see?

ER: I'd love to see Girls, Guns, and Glory team up with Roy Sludge to create a super monster country group!

Cold Chocolate hits the Brattle outdoor stage at 5:10 PM on Saturday, be sure to check them out before grabbing a bite for dinner and hitting up the rest of the fest.

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