Cold Chocolate
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Cold Chocolate

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Americana Bluegrass

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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 what I think is a new kind of Americana band.



What’s the story behind the band’s name?

When I was a little kid, whenever my family visited my Grandpa, he would always have a freezer full of frozen Milky Way candy bars just for my brothers and me. Cold Chocolate was born out of that childhood occasion.



What are your musical influences?

I think our sound draws from artists/bands like: John Hartford, The Band, Wilco, Flatt & Scruggs, and The Grateful Dead.



What’s your method at the time of writing a song?

When bringing a new song to the Cold Chocolate ensemble, I usually try to have it as “finished” as I think it can be, but more often than not, the organic process of making it into a band tune will alter the form or the feel and sometimes even the melody and lyrics. These changes always occur for the better. Whenever I bring a new song to the group, after we’ve work-shopped it, it comes out a much stronger song than it went in. I rely on three other well-seasoned pairs of ears to be honest with me about my material as I often have trouble hearing it but the one way I wrote it, not aware of all of the other possibilities. This is the best part about being in a band. This is what I love.



This Old Way. How was the recording and writing process? How did you guys come up with the album’s title?

Our album, “This Old Way,” is also the name of the second track on the album. Our drummer, Ariel Bernstein, is also a recording engineer who has his own portable rig, made up of high end gear that you’d only find in top-dollar recording studios. We record our albums at my family’s house in the middle of nowhere in northern Vermont, where we spend a weekend at a time laying down four to five tunes. We are currently in the process of recording our next album, which will be Cold Chocolate’s first full-length album.



What do you guys like the most about doing Americana and why did you guys pick it as your band’s genre?

The genre of this band kind of naturally evolved. It was never a “let’s play Americana” kind of situation. More just, “let’s play together and see what happens.” The Cold Chocolate sound was the result of this organic process.



Are there any more plans for the future we should be aware of?

We are about to hit the road on our first tour the first week of January, playing Cambridge, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, and New Haven, CT. We’ve got some killer bills lined up and we are super psyched! We will also be playing at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in Framingham, MA on President’s Day Weekend this February. There is also talk about going to Europe to promote “This Old Way,” as it has gotten a really good reception from radio stations out there.



What has been one of the funniest moments while playing a gig?

One time, while playing a gig at Toad in Cambridge, MA (which has a relatively small stage), I jumped up to accent the final note of one of our songs, and, as there was almost no room to really stand, let alone jump, I nearly landed on top on the drums. Luckily, Ariel caught me before I could fall all over his cymbals.



Where can we find more about your music?

You can download our album at http://coldchocolate.bandcamp.com and keep updated on everything we are doing by Liking us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/coldchocolateband



Do you feel you’re moving on the right direction?

Absolutely. Can’t wait to see what happens next! - Vents Magazine



Cold Chocolate
12/28/20120 Comments

Interview of Cold Chocolate

Want to know more about Cold Chocolate?
Cold Chocolate guitarist/songwriter Ethan Robbins believes that the rootsy sounds of bluegrass music were meant to be fused with the backbeat of funk. Ethan’s bluegrass career began at Oberlin College. There he met upright bassist Kirsten Lamb, and the two began developing a new style of sophisticated but accessible Americana. Now joined by the jazz-inflected banjo of James McIver and the all-out funkiness of drummer Ariel Bernstein, Cold Chocolate proves to be an innovative Americana act with their debut album “This Old Way.” Hailing from Boston’s vibrant acoustic scene, Cold Chocolate has built a reputation for creating original, exciting, and virtuosic tunes.

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 get together?
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 what I think is a new kind of Americana band.

What’s the story behind the band’s name?
When I was a little kid, whenever my family visited my Grandpa, he would always have a freezer full of frozen Milky Way candy bars just for my brothers and me. Cold Chocolate was born out of that childhood occasion.

What are your musical influences?
I think our sound draws from artists/bands like: John Hartford, The Band, Wilco, Flatt & Scruggs, and The Grateful Dead.

What’s your songwriting method?
When bringing a new song to the Cold Chocolate ensemble, I usually try to have it as “finished” as I think it can be, but more often than not, the organic process of making it into a band tune will alter the form or the feel and sometimes even the melody and lyrics. These changes always occur for the better. Whenever I bring a new song to the group, after we’ve work-shopped it, it comes out a much stronger song than it went in. I rely on three other well-seasoned pairs of ears to be honest with me about my material as I often have trouble hearing it but the one way I wrote it, not aware of all of the other possibilities. This is the best part about being in a band. This is what I love.

This Old Way. How was the recording process?
Our drummer, Ariel Bernstein, is also a recording engineer who has his own portable rig, made up of high end gear that you’d only find in top-dollar recording studios. We record our albums at my family’s house in the middle of nowhere in northern Vermont, where we spend a weekend at a time laying down four to five tunes. We are currently in the process of recording our next album, which will be Cold Chocolate’s first full-length album.

How did you decide to be an Americana band?
The genre of this band kind of naturally evolved. It was never a “let’s play Americana” kind of situation. More just, “let’s play together and see what happens.” The Cold Chocolate sound was the result of this organic process.

Got any big plans for the future?
We are about to hit the road on our first tour the first week of January, playing Cambridge, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, and New Haven, CT. We’ve got some killer bills lined up and we are super psyched! We will also be playing at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in Framingham, MA on President’s Day Weekend this February. There is also talk about going to Europe to promote “This Old Way,” as it has gotten a really good reception from radio stations out there.

Where can we find more about your music?
You can download our album at http://coldchocolate.bandcamp.com and keep updated on everything we are doing by Liking us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/coldchocolateband. - Reneby


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. - BluegrassToday.com


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, this pair are, on this showing alone, probably one of the finest rhythm sections ever to have fetched up in the name of bluegrass. Robbins’ rather weedy, hokey vocals are probably the only weak link here, suggesting that out of these four musos, he’s the one that drew the short straw to sing out of necessity. Having said that, he gives the band a playful, easy charm that points the band more in the direction of floorfillers than chinstrokers. - AmericanaUK


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxzt3w1xlpQ&feature=youtu.be - Freshgrass


"Cold Chocolate plays a style of bluegrass that is so ridiculously good, that 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." - Red Line Roots


Rockland, Mass.’s Blue Moon Coffeehouse will feature a performance by Boston-based Ethan Robbins & Cold Chocolate this Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. The music from this group is hard to pin down. It’s a fusion of folk, funk and bluegrass that they call “Bluegrass Funk.”

Robbins began playing bluegrass guitar at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he met Kirsten Lamb, bassist for Cold Chocolate. Later, after moving to Boston, they connected with banjo player and MIT physicist James W. McIver, who added a funkified sound to the group and earned the nickname James “Brown” McIver. Drummer Ariel Bernstein added even more of a funk groove to their music. - The Patriot Ledger


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 - The Boston Globe


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 - The Boston Globe


"There were plenty of magical moments [at FreshGrass Festival]. I will never forget watching the band Cold Chocolate perform underneath the enormous Xu Bing’s 12-ton Phoenix sculpture." - The Fretboard Journal


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Cold Chocolate is creating an exciting and unique new sound in the world of Americana: fusing bluegrass and roots with al 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.

Guitarist/songwriter Ethan Robbins began his bluegrass career at Oberlin College. A founding member of The Outhouse Troubadours, an Oberlin Bluegrass Phenomenon, he began to explore how this hard-driving fast-paced genre could be stretched. A classical violinist from age four, Ethan fell in love with the guitar when he turned fourteen and his father bought him five quintessential albums: The Bands Music from Big Pink, Bob Dylans Bringing it all Back Home, John Hartfords Steam Powered Aereo-plane, Hank Williams Live at the Grand Ole Opry, and the Grateful Deads Workingmans Dead. Ever since, Ethan has attempted to bring those raw, rootsy sounds into his own original material.

Ethan met Cold Chocolate upright bassist Kirsten Lamb while at Oberlin. Born into a musical family, Kirsten became a multi-instrumentalist from an early age. At thirteen, she shifted her focus to the upright bass, as its versatility was a good fit for her growing musical curiosity. She graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory and is a current student in the Contemporary Improvisation Department at the New England Conservatory. Having been called part of one of the finest rhythm sections ever to be fetched up in the name of bluegrass by Mickey Clark of AmericanaUK magazine, Kirstens bass work in Cold Chocolate mesmerizes audiences.

After moving to Boston, Ethan and Kirsten met James McIver, a fleet-fingered banjo pickin MIT physicist. Winner of the 2012 Lowell Banjo and Fiddle Contest, James not only holds down the driving five-string, but also pushes the envelope of the bluegrass banjo, lending Cold Chocolate a sophisticated, funk-inflected, and outside-the-box three-finger style.

In 2011, the loose-wristed Ariel Bernstein joined Cold Chocolate on drums, completing the ensemble. Although drums are often thought to add heaviness to acoustic music, Ariel brings a light and tasteful groove to Cold Chocolates tunes, filling out their sound and heightening the bands exhilarating power. Ariel is also the engineer and producer of Cold Chocolates studio albums, through his company VS the World Studios.

www.coldchocolatemusic.com

www.facebook.com/coldchocolatemusic

Band Members