Exclusive Interview: Chatham County Line
December 5, 2010
by: Chuck Norton
Forming in 1999 in Raleigh, NC, Chatham County Line has craved out a niche in the modern, ever-shifting, musical landscape. First drawing interest from Bluegrass aficionados a decade ago, the band’s appeal now expands into the post-indie world where genre bounds are blurred as neo-folk and country form what the band’s lead-singer and songwriter Dave Wilson calls “intelligent acoustic music”.
Along with Wilson – whose band Stillhouse led to the meeting of his current band-mates – banjoist Chandler Holt, multi-instrumentalist John Teer and up-right base player Greg Readling, the band’s line-up stability is impressive. This has no-doubt allowed the band to continue to increase their base while continuing to release albums that garner critical attention.
That critical acclaim may have apexed in 2008 when they released the track “Birmingham Jail” – about the children killed in the 16th Baptist Street Church Bombing in Birmingham, AL in 1963 – on their album IV. Not only did it open the door to mainstream audiences who were previously unaware of the band’s work but it also show cased the band’s talent.
The band has also found a significant audience in Europe where they released a joint studio album with Jonas Fjeld in 2009. The album, Brother Of Song, was certified Gold within a month of its original release.
In North America, the band released, Wildwood, their sixth original, full-length album – and fourth on Yep Roc Records – in July 2010. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts and stayed in the top 12 for seven weeks.
The band supported the release of Wildwood with tours in North American and Europe; and now are closing out 2010 with a limited run of holiday shows that have becoming a calling card for the band. For the sixth year-in-a-row, the band plays shows in mid-December in North Carolina and Atlanta.
The band will be performing on December 17, 2010 in Atlanta at Variety Playhouse. Complete tour details can be found here.
DeadJournalist.com brings you this exclusive interview with Dave Wilson, lead singer/songwriter for Chatham County Line.
As you get ready to head into the end of you the year, the band will be continuing its holiday tour tradition. What makes these shows different for the band? And what’s your favorite part of the the holiday?
DW: These shows are special because we bring a rhythm section on the road with us and Greg, our bass player, gets to play pedal steel and piano. It is a reconnection to our past of rocking out on electric guitars along with a drummer that we don’t get to do much anymore. We’re excited to present some of the songs off of Wildwood in this way.
We’ll do a full acoustic set like we traditionally perform and then bring out the rock for a long set after the intermission. My favorite part of the holiday is the big bottle of Maker’s Mark that my Dad keeps in the cupboard.
What is the bands’ plans for 2011?
DW: We’re planning on touring a lot in 2011. We’ve got some festivals booked and will do a lot of shows around them. We’re gonna release IV on vinyl in the first half of the year and then later in the summer we’ll put out a live album and DVD recorded in Raleigh, NC at the Fletcher Opera Theatre.
How do you feel about the progress the band has made in 2010?
DW: Every time we play a show, fresh faces abound in the audience, and our audience is what drives this band. We released our strongest record in 2010 and we feel like it is really reaching people that have an ear for intelligent acoustic music.
How has the increasing involvement of social media effected the way the band markets and promotes itself?
DW: We do spend a bit more time making sure our various pages are up to date. I think it is great that the band gets to interact directly with the fans on a daily basis. It is that kind of contact that will keep us going when we’re off the road for a few months patching up our instruments.
How have you seen your audiences change since you first began your career?
DW: Our audience has really changed over the years. When we started, it was mostly older people that came out to see us, lured by that word “bluegrass”. Through years of touring and getting our name and music out to the masses, a younger audience has realized that what we offer is not stodgy old “bluegrass” but something new altogether.
How has the band’s live performances changed during the past few years?
DW: We still do the same sort of live show that has carried people from near and far to see our show. What has changed is really the level of musicianship and tightness that a band only gets from years on the road. 10,000 hours right?
Do you still have those emotional “I love this!” moments when you are on stage? Or is it now more about executing the songs and performances?
DW: We’re still loving our living right now. We’ve got a lot of good feelings going on during any given show and we see no reason it shouldn’t stay this way for years to come.
What are the greatest personal challenges you face while being on the road?
DW: The biggest challenge is really keeping a good hand at home while having to travel so much of the year. Luckily a few of us have really great understanding women at home that keep themselves busy while we’re gone.
What’s the most bizarre thing that has occurred to you while on tour?
DW: I always go blank at this question. A few weeks ago, my guitar cracked right in the middle of a song … but that’s pretty boring. We’ve had a lot of good times, over a lot of miles and a lot of smiles, and I think I’ll leave it at that.
Who is an artist that you have been recommending to your friends?
DW: Teer is in love with Dr. Dog.
To whom were you listening to in 2000?
DW: Awash in JJ Cale, Leo Kottke, Steve Earle and Gram Parsons.
One Drink. One Album. One Movie.
DW: Maker’s – rocks; Bobby Charles – Bobby Charles; Gone With The Wind
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