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Chatham County Line

Chatham County Line

Jan 25th 2017 @ The Bullingdon

Oxford, United Kingdom
I Was There
Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
7:30 PM
The Bullingdon
Oxford, United Kingdom
Our band is a lot like this place, says Chatham County Line guitarist, lead singer and songwriter Dave Wilson. His eyes wander across the original hardwood lanes of the mid-century Raleigh bowling alley where he just finished rolling and drinking two rounds. Playing traditional string band instrumentation around a single microphone while clad in suits and ties visually projects a similar sepia-toned timelessness. We create a product that you're familiar with and you'll enjoy going back to because you know what to expect. My dad ran a local hardware store years ago and I always felt like we shared that.

Sure enough, like a small town store, there's no dramatic tale or sexy hook to fuel the hype machine for 'Autumn', the seventh studio album since the Raleigh, North Carolina based Chatham County LineWilson, John Teer (mandolin/fiddle), Chandler Holt (banjo), and Greg Readling (bass, pedal steel, piano)coalesced in the late 1990's. Instead, the story behind the workmanlike group's newest releaseavailable via Yep Roc Recordsis simple: A veteran ensemble at the top of its game sticking to its considerable strengthspoignant songwriting and inventive acoustic arrangements that draw upon a broad array of American roots influences, highlighted by trademark three- and four-part harmonies that shine throughout. But like the flat-screen televisions that now dot those bowling lanes, the quartet respects its historyfrom bluegrass inventor Bill Monroe to innovators like John Hartfordwhile remaining mindful of more modern influences, including its members' backgrounds in rock bands.

On stage, the musical relationships fostered by its consistent line-up are apparent, through an unspoken chemistry that allows the freedom for improvisational flashes that seem as polished as the rest of its set. Those moments keep performances fresh, as the band's best-known songs become concert staples, despite a deep catalog that features dozens of stellar tunes. The fans drive the set list and the songs that we feel like we need to play every night, Wilson states. But this is never a position that I thought we would be in, that there would be all these songs we wrote that people listen to and make babies to, so then they bring the baby to the show to hear that particular song.

The conundrum of this new record is what old songs do we take out of the set and which new ones do we put in, Holt muses, agreeing with Wilson that it's a good problem to have for a group in its second decade of making music on its own terms, happy to avoid the path of acts that have morphed into business juggernauts. Music today has almost become about everything else besides the music, but for the four of us, it's very much the opposite of that. We get to do what we want to do. What else is there?