After more than 10 years and seven albums, Chatham County Line is a well-oiled bluegrass machine. The quartet has taken North Carolina bluegrass across country on U.S. tours and overseas on visits to Europe. The band’s latest album Sight & Sound, a live album recorded at Fletcher Opera House, was released in July on Yep Roc Records.
We caught up with vocalists Dave Wilson after the band’s latest West Coast tour.
How would you describe your sound?
Awesome is a pretty good word… but seriously we have always maintained a love for the instrumentation and performance style of classic bluegrass.
We just happen to enjoy writing songs that speak to us and not having grown up on a strict diet of bluegrass, it would be insincere for us to write straight up “bluegrass” songs. Therefore we write music that moves us personally and then cloak it in the Superman Cape of Bluegrass.
What makes the Raleigh bluegrass scene unique?
North Carolina is about as close to the nexus of bluegrass as you can get outside of Kentucky. Some of the greatest folks that performed it have come out of NC and it was the various radio broadcasts that came out of our state that gave it a place to be performed. WPTF here in Raleigh was one of the great homes for traveling artists through the years.
Personally, I would say Raleigh is having a lot more success now with acoustic based (vs. strict bluegrass) music than anything. Bands like Megafaun, Mandolin Orange, & the Carolina Chocolate Drops are writing and performing great music that soaks up the great heritage of NC and makes something new and exciting with it… and remember, that is exactly what bluegrass was in the 1940s.
What’s the best venue for local music in Raleigh?
If you have hit the big time and can get on the schedule in between all of the tribute bands, the Lincoln Theatre is a nice place to play a real show. I could be saying this because we just recorded a live album there but, we have personally become enamored with the Fletcher Opera House for our style of music. In fact, we will be there in February 2013 for a Pinecone show with Mandolin Orange.
What’ is your favorite stop for late-night dining?
Raleigh Times used to be my stock answer for this question, but due to my moderately un-hip wardrobe and fear of intense crowds and 10db too loud music, I would have to say that I now prefer the Mecca for a late-night snack and night cap.
What are the best places to find musical instruments in Raleigh?
Harrys Guitars has been a great staple for the time I’ve spent in Raleigh, they’ve got it all. If you’re looking for banjos, you’ve got to go to Wendell and Zepp’s Country Music. Local legend Tommy Edwards has also been running a nice little shop in Pittsboro for a little while where you can find a gem if your timing is right.
What Raleigh attractions would you recommend for first-time visitors?
I would definitely see The Nut. Actually it depends on the age we’re dealing with. For the young and young at heart, Pullen Park, the North Carolina History Museum and Krispy Kreme could do it. For the slowly aging, the North Carolina Museum of Art, a stroll through historic Oakwood and Krispy Kreme is a nice round day.
Raleigh’s best kept secret?
Now if I told you that and you put it on the Internet, what would it be?
Where can we find you next?