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“The Boston area’s prime bluegrass event, The Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, is coming up in a few weeks and a lot of folks in the northeast are making preparations to attend. We’ll have a correspondent/photographer there for the first time this year (Tara Linhardt), who will capture some of the flavor of the event for those who can’t be there in person. One group making their debut at Joe Val this year is Cold Chocolate, who are scheduled to perform on the showcase stage on Saturday afternoon (2/16). Making up the band are Ethan Robbins on guitar and lead vocals, Kirsten Lamb on bass, James McIver on banjo, and Ariel Bernstein on percussion. Their sound, perhaps typical of the exploding acoustic scene in Boston, lies somewhere between folk and bluegrass, hoping to offer something to fans across the spectrum. A debut album, This Old Way, hit in May 2012, and Ethan just sent along a video for one of the songs, Tell Tale Heart.”
“Let’s face it, Hot Chocolate were the bees knees. Before they went all lukewarm disco-lite on us in the late 70s and early 80s, they made some classic soul singles in the form of ‘Brother Louie’ and ‘Emma’. However, give the apparent shortage of original band names, it wasn’t going to be long before someone put their own twist on things. Welcome then Cold Chocolate. Of course, this Boston band is neither soul nor disco-lite, otherwise they wouldn’t be having their EP reviewed here. But, these five bluegrassy tracks do sport an inventive funk twang that makes them all the more accessible. Opening with some extremely fleet-fingered acoustic lead from frontman Ethan Robbins, the rest of the band quickly lock in. James McIver holds down the bluegrass banjo, doing – well – exactly what bluegrass banjo players do. Stars of the piece, though, are double-bassist Kirsten Lamb and loose-wristed drummer Ariel Bernstein. Obviously well-schooled in their instruments...”
“So who’s Cold Chocolate? We are a Bluegrass/Americana band based in Boston, MA. Cold Chocolate consists of Ethan Robbins on guitar and vocals, Kirsten Lamb on upright bass and vocals, James McIver on banjo and vocals, and Ariel Bernstein on drums. How did you guys all come together to create this band? I (Ethan) attended Oberlin College with Kirsten, which is where and when I began playing bluegrass and really writing music. The two of us played in numerous different groups together while in college, ranging from a folk trio to a funk four-piece band and after graduating, we both decided to move to the Boston area. At a friend’s party, we met our banjo player, James McIver. Right off the bat, the three of us started playing music—mostly bluegrass and folk standards—then decided to start an original group. Ariel Bernstein brought it all together, bringing the tasteful rhythm that meshed with our instrumental sound, adding the backbeat to my songs, and helping us to create.”
“When bluegrass guitarist Ethan Robbins met upright bassist Kirsten Lamb and drummer Matthew Rowen Caplan at Oberlin College, the trio messed around with bluegrass and funk. The twain meet under the name Ethan Robbins & Cold Chocolate, and the Boston-based band celebrates its first EP, "Bluegrass or Otherwise."--June Wulff, Globe Staff”
“Their grass is blue Ethan Robbins has 15 years of classical violin training, but it’s not Bach, Brahms, or Beethoven you’ll hear tonight, it’s bluegrass funk. Boston’s Ethan Robbins & Cold Chocolate celebrate their first EP, “Bluegrass or Otherwise.’’ 9:30 p.m. Free. 21+. The Loft @ Tommy Doyle’s, 96 Winthrop St., Cambridge. 617-864-0655. www.tommydoyles.com ”