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In concert: Chatham County Line at Jammin' Java

By Scott Galupo

chatham county lineChatham County Line played bluegrass with plenty of flair at Jammin' Java Thursday. (Tracy Woodward/TWP)

The dark suits crammed in front of a vintage-looking microphone promised an old-timey affair, but Chatham County Line delivered something even more rewarding.

At Jammin' Java Thursday night, the wiser-than-their-years Raleigh, N.C., quartet played traditional bluegrass with the kind of flair that could satisfy purists -- but also with unfailing originality, an occasional burst of New South social conscience ("Birmingham Jail") and, on ballads like "Porcelain Doll" and "One More Minute," an almost unbearable tenderness.

It's clear that Dave Wilson, the band's frontman and primary songwriter, listens to his fair share of Wilco, Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams. In lesser hands, he might have wound up an alt-country castoff -- another shaggy acoustic troubadour with a harmonica holder.

chatham county line

Instead, his songs enjoy wonderfully textured string accompaniment -- courtesy of mandolinist and fiddler John Teer, banjoist Chandler Holt and upright bassist Greg Readling -- and flawless harmonic vocal arrangements.

The songs themselves, let it be said, are no slouches. "Route 23" was suffused with poignant populist nostalgia, while "Alone in New York" could have been relatable to even the spunkiest of city mice.

An encore set loosened into rock-friendly fare such as "Whipping Boy" and, well, "Let It Rock." By the end, Teer, having been relieved of his suit jacket, was playing fiddle behind his back.
Bill Monroe, meet Jimi Hendrix.

chatham county line

chatham county line

By Scott Galupo  | November 12, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Chatham County Line  
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