Ebony Hillbillies: NYC subways ... and Carnegie Hall

The Ebony Hillbillies get Charleston up and dancin'.

The Ebony Hillbillies, one of the country's premier black string bands, brought their joyful vibe to Charleston Thursday night. The group made their first appearance at the College of Charleston Cistern area stage and brought the crowd to its feet.

Read more stories on this subject in our Spoleto topic page.A mixture of Gospel, Bluegrass, Country,  grass roots, Cajun - you name it -  they played it during the 90-minute set.

Henrique Prince, leader of the band with fiddle and vocals, set a fast pace and was joined in song by Gloria Gassaway who played bones. Norris Bennett was center stage with banjo and mountain dulcimer, 2-time Grammy winner "Salty Bill" Salter was on bass and Newman Baker played washboard and percussion.

Instead of wearing thimbles  to scrub the rhythmic washboard, Baker had red shotgun casings on his fingers and a smile on his face. Prince announced they would play a song "writen by a French soldier marching in reverse" and they jumped into Bonapart's Retreat.

Before playing and singing Little iza Jane, Gloria asked the audience if it knew a dance step called "Quick Hurry Up & Slap A Rabbit?" They closed with "Joshua Fit The Battle of Jerico."

They have two CDs available and announced a new one will be out next month.

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