Close this search box.

well established and here for you

independently owned and operated since 1977

Hot For Cold Chocolate

 Cold Chocolate’s Ariel Bernstein and Ethan Robbins

by Steve Desroches

Music perhaps more than any other art form, is so amorphous that it defies categorization. And yet there are those who try to put strict boundaries on it. Some seem genuinely upset when Dolly Parton is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And then there’s the outrage over Beyoncé putting out a country album. Those divisions often come from corporate marketing strategies, strident fans with a fanatical bend, or the realm of intense middle-school debates. But while musicians might have a preferred genre or a distinct passion, most see the opportunities that exist for cultural expansion by eschewing labels and just follow the notes and beats to wherever they may take you. That’s where the sweet spot is. That’s at the root of Cold Chocolate, a self-described “genre-bending Americana band” featuring Ethan Robbins and Ariel Bernstein who will take to the stage at Wellfleet Preservation Hall this Friday night.

“We use Americana because it allows us to explore all the genres we enjoy,” says Robbins. “We’re an eclectic sounding band. It’s a good umbrella term for us. It’s the best genre definition for the band. Honestly, we’d prefer not to define ourselves with any genre, but Americana is the closest we can get to describe ourselves. In terms of marketing, it does come in handy.”

The Boston-based duo has created music together for over 10 years now, and after their Wellfleet gig they hit the road for a tour throughout the Northeast. Blending bluegrass, folk, funk, rock and roll, and more, Cold Chocolate drives it all home with that Americana sound that it is hard to define, but impossible to miss. When America is at its best, the diverse cultures that make up the fabric of our country are allowed to flourish and in turn inform and influence the arts, politics, and general thought. So, when Cold Chocolate performs with a mandolin or a banjo, while both come from afar, the two instruments invoke a feeling, even a nostalgia, for a generally accepted narrative of what America sounds like, musically. And Cold Chocolate could well provide an apt soundtrack for a quintessential American road trip as it sews together the patchwork identity of what it means to be an American so well.

Even the band’s name evokes a tender nostalgia, once the story behind it is known. Robbins gave the name to the band inspired by a childhood memory from when he and his brothers would go to visit their grandfather in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. On the drive from his native Washington, D.C., he and his brothers would sit in the backseat and talk excitedly about the frozen Milky Way candy bars his grandfather always kept in the freezer. The memory of a hug from his grandfather followed by cold chocolate is a warm memory, and the name of the band is in a way honoring his grandfather’s legacy. And their most recent album, one featuring all covers, taps into nostalgia a bit, too. The album, titled Now That’s What I Call Cold Chocolate Vol. 1, features covers of tracks as diverse as “Kiss” by Prince, “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips, “Never Loved A Man” by Aretha Franklin, and “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith, all done with unique arrangements and the Cold Chocolate sound. 

“Conceptually, that album came during Covid when we couldn’t get together to write and work on original music,” says Robbins. “We worked remotely on songs to get us through such a sad time. We said, ‘how about we record music that brings us to a happy place? Songs that always make us happy. Songs our parents introduced us to or friends did.’ There were no limits to style or genre. It just had to make us happy.”

What makes Robbins and Ariel most happy though, is the creative process of creating original music together. As a songwriting duo they keep what they bring to the table a bit loose so as to not get too entrenched in an idea so they remain open to input from one another and allow a song to grow and evolve. “There’s a lot of freedom there,” says Robbins. And in the decade plus they’ve been a collaborative songwriting team they’ve always been chasing their own identities as musicians and as a band. They’re the constant in a band that changes members from time to time as well as focus on genre, style, and influences. But now as they return to Wellfleet Preservation Hall for the third time in four years, Cold Chocolate feels more at home with themselves than ever before.

“We’d make albums to catch up with ourselves,” says Robbins. “Every time we released an album we felt like we were showing people what we were doing now. We don’t have to play catch up anymore. We’re more relaxed. This is who we are and what we are doing, and have been doing. We’re not chasing anything, but settling into ourselves. It feels really, really good.”

Cold Chocolate performs at Wellfleet Preservation Hall, 335 Main St. on Friday, May 3 at 7 p.m. Tickets ($20 in advance/$25 at door) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.349.1800.

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

Keep in touch

Fill in your details and I will get back to you in no time.

Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657