Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story is a documentary portrait of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band from Raleigh, North Carolina, and their mentor, fiddler Joe Thompson (1919—2012). The film captures how three musicians from the hip-hop generation embraced a 19th Century genre and took it to new heights, winning a Grammy in 2010. The story of the band’s meteoric rise, from busking on the street to playing major festivals is punctuated and informed by the history of the banjo’s origins in Africa, and the untold story of how blacks and whites collaborated to create the earliest forms of American popular music.
About the filmmaker: John Whitehead (Director/Producer, Editor) makes documentaries for public television and videos for non-profit organizations. He also produces independent films as a labor of love. A serious amateur musician with a long time interest in American roots music, he is motivated by the need to document and celebrate aspects of our culture that are often ignored in the media.
His 2004 film, Make ‘Em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers’ Story, traced the history of a legendary Cajun/country band from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind is his second foray into the roots music genre. Other recent projects include: Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian, a documentary about Charles Eastman, the Dakota philosopher and author; and the Emmy Award winning programs, Transplant: A Gift for Life, and First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language.
Mr. Whitehead’s work has earned eight regional Emmy Awards, an HBO Films Producer Award, a Corporation for Public Broadcasting Award, and the Gold Plaque from The Chicago Film Festival. He spent 1993-1994 at The University of Chicago as a William Benton Fellow in broadcast journalism.