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Homegrown Plus: Hubby Jenkins

 In this photo of Hubby Jenkins, Hubby plays guitar and sings into a microphone. Photo is accompanied by the Homegrown 2020 logo, which includes the words "Library of Congress American Folklife Center Homegrown 2020 Concert Series, "Homegrown at Home." Photo is by Tom Barla and was shared to Flickr with a Creative Commons Licence.

Hubby Jenkins at the Carrboro Music Festival in 2018. Photo by Tom Barta, shared to Flickr with a Creative Commons License.

It’s time for another great Homegrown Plus blog! As you may know by now, in this series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the run with Hubby Jenkins, who is an old-time and blues musician living in New York.

Hubby Jenkins is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who plays guitars, banjos, mandolins, and bones. He has been a member of the Rhiannon Giddens Band, and before that the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. As a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, he played at the Library of Congress back in 2012, and I had the honor of doing a brief onstage interview with the band between sets. As I write this, that concert occurred ten years ago this week–time flies!

Hubby Jenkins sits in a chair playing the bones

Hubby Jenkins playing the bones in the Coolidge Auditorium as a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, February 18, 2012. Photo by Abby Brack Lewis.

Hubby was born and raised in Brooklyn, but like many African Americans has roots in the American South. In creating his own musical identity, he delved into these southern roots, and followed the thread of African American history that wove itself through America’s traditional music forms. As an integral member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and later the Rhiannon Giddens band, Hubby performed at festivals and venues around the world, earning himself both Grammy and Americana award nominations. Today, he spreads his knowledge and love of old-time American music through his dynamic solo performances and engaging workshops.

After both videos, I’ll also put in some information on some of the songs Hubby played, with links to field recordings, so look for those as well.  But for now, let’s get straight to his concert video, for which Hubby delved into our archive and played some of the songs he found there, along with other of his favorites. He came to us straight from his backyard in Brooklyn. See it in the player below!

In the interview we talked about Hubby’s musical journey. He grew up with the sounds of soul and hip-hop surrounding him in the streets of Brooklyn, playing claves with Puerto Rican friends and family, and learning the sax in school. He went on to focus on such historical African American forms as blues, banjo tunes, spirituals, and string-band music. He ended up playing with award-winning groups and being in demand as a band member and sought after as a soloist. To hear all about his path, watch the interview in the player below!

I mentioned that Hubby played songs from the AFC archive in his concert.  In the week before the concert, I posted a blog embedding the field recordings he drew on. You can read it and hear those field recordings at this link.

If you’re interested, you can find both the concert and interview videos with more bibliographic information on the Library of Congress website, with the concert here at this link, and  the oral history at this link.

Thanks for watching, listening, and reading! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress. For past concerts, including links to webcasts and other information, visit the Homegrown Concerts Online Archive.

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