By all appearances, Chatham County Line is a Bluegrass band. But things are clearly not always as they seem.
Guitarist Dave Wilson, mandolinist/multi-instrumentalist John Teer, banjoist Chandler Holt and upright bassist Greg Readling certainly satisfy the Bluegrass archetype, but their songs, their frenetic stage presentation and their intention to evolve and grow as a band make them much more than the standard collection of pickers with nice harmonies.
CCL began nearly a decade and a half ago, when Wilson and Readling were playing in the cool Country/Rock band Stillhouse in Raleigh, N.C. Holt and Teer showed up to see what the local buzz was all about and wound up sitting in with the band on occasion. Over post-show beers one night, Wilson floated the idea of forming a Bluegrass band; the quartet agreed, the die was cast and Chatham County Line was born.
Around the same time, Wilson and Readling were tapped to join The Carbines, singer/songwriter Tift Merritt’s band at the time. Because of the cross-pollinated band structure — and by virtue of the fact that half of them were already there — CCL was a regular opener for The Carbines.
Former dB/producer Chris Stamey saw CCL and offered to record them, eventually procuring the group’s Yep Roc label deal and producing three of the band’s four albums. CCL’s last album, 2008’s IV, showed the band incorporating all of the facets of their long and diverse experience into its sound and evolving into a Bluegrass band that doesn’t rely on Bluegrass tricks and traditions to make its point.
CCL is just now putting the finishing touches on a new album that should be out this spring. The group’s current circuit (featuring assistance, as usual, from Tift Merritt band members Zeke Hutchins and Jay Brown) will likely offer up at least a small sampling of new material.
Regardless of the set list or the setting, secure your wigs, socks and faces — Chatham County Line is the Bluegrass band that will rock them off.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)