There could not have been a better choice to kick off 2006's American Roots Series at the ArtsCenter. The CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS' name is a nod toward the Mississippi Mud Steppers, the Tennessee Chocolate Drops and other black string bands of the 1920s and '30s, and the quartet's banjo- and fiddle-driven tunes honor those roots in spirit and vintage. Bringing things even closer to home, Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson of the Chocolate Drops are Piedmont-raised, and it's one of their goals to keep the region's string-band music alive, a tradition personified by Mebane's Joe Thompson. The music starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, and tickets are $12.
Stamey is preparing to lead two dozen musicians, including a string section and a rotating cast of vocalists, through the first live and fully orchestrated re-creation of Big Star's third album. They'll all do it again the next evening.