Cold Chocolate is creating an exciting and unique new sound in the world of Americana: fusing bluegrass and roots with an occasional 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 Band’s “Music from Big Pink,” Bob Dylan’s “Bringing it all Back Home,” John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aereo-plane,” Hank Williams “Live at the Grand Ole Opry,” and the Grateful Dead’s “Workingman’s 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, Kirsten’s 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 Chocolate’s tunes, filling out their sound and heightening the band’s exhilarating power. Ariel is also the engineer and producer of Cold Chocolate’s studio albums, through his company “VS the World Studios.”