The interview didn't actually happen, of course, but was did happen is that Graham, the self-proclaimed "head honcho" of the marvellous Jumpin' Hot Club offered to put me on the guest list and gave me the opportunity to write a review for the J&H website.
So who are Chatham County Line? They are four young fellas from North Carolina who make sort-of-old-timey-string-band music together on the banjo, mandolin, guitar, fiddle and double (upright) bass. Their names, should you be interested, are the aforementioned Dave Wilson, John Teer, Chandler Holt and Greg Readling, they formed in 1999, and they released their fourth album, the appropriately titled IV, just this year.
So far so good, but there's not much 'review' to this gig review yet, is there? Let's rectify that and start things proper by talking about the support act...one Jill Barber.
Next up it was, of course, Chatham Co. Line with their modern, almost indie kid, take on bluegrass. If you have not heard them before, think Old Crow Medicine Show and you wouldn't be a million miles away from what these guys sound like. Sharing, as in the picture just above, one microphone between the four of them, bobbing in and out like chickens for vocals and picking solos, this was certainly interesting to watch. The harmonies were so top notch that they reminded me of a barbershop quartet in places...except with instruments! Kudos goes, in particular, to John Teer, who was superlative on both mandolin and fiddle...although Chandler Holt and his banjo were not far behind.
Although Dave Wilson is something of a frontman for the group, holding the majority of chatting duties and most frequent lead vocals, all four of these guys seemed like nice, down-to-earth lads. They were completely at ease in front of this audience, joking along and proffering anecdotes like they were in their home town. Wilson recounted to us the band's decision in naming their most recent album, IV, saying that this was as a result of doing so many interviews with journalists who would persist in asking them how it felt to have an album out when they had just released their third! He hopes that, in naming it IV, there is also a chance of it sticking around in the history books as a "badass record" on a par with Led Zeppelin's album of the same title.
This was an enjoyable and accomplished gig, but did not blow me away in the same way Carolina Chocolate Drops, the last string band I saw, did. Nevertheless, these blokes were very good at what they did, and worked very well together...perhaps best, despite the excellent harmonies elsewhere, on the instrumental, fast-picking numbers. There is, however, always an exception to the rule, and this was with stand out gig highlight, the Monroe Brothers' gospel song What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul.
Watch out for these guys...they may already be four albums in, but I think that they are starting to get the attention they deserve; earlier this week they were on Later With Jools Holland (for those not in the UK, this is possibly the biggest music show over here) and, with IV, they really have produced a peach of an album.
Chip of A Star - Chatham County Line
mp3: Birmingham Jail - Chatham County Line