Interview by Scott Preston
1st photo by Paul Bernhard
Ten years in, the four gentlemen of Chatham County Line have a lot to reflect on: sold out shows in the US and abroad, appearances on national radio & TV, four solid selling records, and four really dirty suits.
“We want to be the band that puts on the most professional show in the business of what we do,” says singer/guitarist/songwriter Dave Wilson. “If you’ve taken your time to be there for us, we are going to prove we are there for you.” It’s that sincerity of showmanship and professionalism that has led to countless miles on the road for CCL. “We’ve worn out two vans by now and I’ve actually worn out a few ties as well,” says John Teer. “You ever hear of someone wearing out a tie?” Teer plays mandolin and fiddle and sings high tenor for the band. It is this commitment that has fans driving hundreds of miles to see Chatham County Line at work on the road. “We’ve had fans travel from another country to catch a show,” reflects banjoist Chandler Holt, continuing, “That’s when you know you’re doing something right.” Releasing IV to critical acclaim in 2008, CCL was invited to be on Later. . . with Jools Holland on BBC 2 in the UK, alongside such acts as The Raconteurs, Nick Cave, and Bon Iver. “Now that was a party,” muses standup bassist Greg Readling. “When you’ve got those guys coming up and introducing themselves to you, all the miles just melt away.” (1)
Chatham County Line will be performing at The Southgate House, 24 East Third Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071 on Tuesday Feb 2, 2011. 7:30pm doors / 8pm show, $13 ADV / $15 DOS, Ages 18+ – BUY TICKETS
Cincy Groove: How/when did Chatham County Line get together?
Dave Wilson: We got together back before the great turn of the millennium as a way to discover this great underbelly of American folk and bluegrass music. We began to write ourselves into its lexicon and from then on we’ve been hard at work staking our claim.
Cincy Groove: Was there a moment for you and the band that made you realize something special was starting to happen?
Dave Wilson: I was heading out on the road to play guitar for Tift Merritt to support her 1st album “Bramble Rose.” CCL was playing a tour send-off party for her and Chris Stamey was in attendance. Chris was the one that heard us, liked the original tunes and approached Yep Roc on our behalf. It was his support and excitement about what we were doing that really made us feel like we could take a stab at singing for a living. But it wasn’t really until we were on stage at Merlefest a few years after that when we really felt like we were “for real.”
Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?
Dave Wilson: It’s really an endless list at this point. . .George Harrison, John Steinbeck, Rick Danko, Red Simpson, John Hartford, Henry Ford, Chip Robinson, Peter Eichenberger, Ronnie Lane, Zeke Hutchins. . .
Cincy Groove: Where has been one of the more unusual places you have had to play?
Dave Wilson: When we toured with Jonas Fjeld back in 2009, we had the opportunity to give a show at a hotel in Svalbard. Svalbard is pretty much as north as you can go in the world. One of your party has to at all times have a loaded gun due to the local polar bears and their tendency to take you for a snack.
Cincy Groove: What was some of the inspiration behind your latest release Wildwood?
Dave Wilson: I was personally really inspired by the great bed of local music in our town of Raleigh, NC. The scene here is exploding and we’ve got almost more bands than fans in the area. There are some great local radio stations that play blocks of all local stuff which is a real treat.
Cincy Groove: Are there plans for any new releases from the band in 2011?
Dave Wilson: We’re releasing IV on vinyl shortly and then later in the year we’re gonna do a live LP/Video release of some shows from 2010. We’ll probably get back into the studio sometime this year and prepare something for 2012.
Cincy Groove: What were some highlights for you and the band in 2010?
Dave Wilson: 2010 was great year for CCL. We put out our best record to date, and played all over the world. One of my personal highlights was to return to all of these towns we’d played in the past and seeing more and younger faces in the audience. We feel like we are reaching a whole new audience at this point in our careers and couldn’t be more excited about sharing our world of music with them.
Cincy Groove: How did the band get their start in Europe ? You seem to have quite a following.
Dave Wilson: Years ago we were approached by a foreign booking agency that had seen us at SXSW in Austin. They booked a tour for us and that let to multiple festival bookings as well as a spot on “Later with Jools Holland” which has to be the coolest live music TV show in the world.
Cincy Groove: I see that you are releasing IV on vinyl. A lot of bands seem to be doing this. Do you think there is a vinyl revival?
Dave Wilson: I’ve been living a vinyl lifestyle ever since I realized that you could sample the history of recorded music at 1-4 dollars a pop. The present resurgence is great, I’m glad that folks are still interested in hearing music at a real quality of audio.
Cincy Groove: Do you get a chance to record or perform with anyone outside of the band?
Dave Wilson: We spent several years recording and performing with Norwegian artist Jonas Fjeld. That was a great learning experience for the band and it was nice to do some top-tier touring in a place so far from home.
Cincy Groove: Are there any upcoming shows you are excited about?
Dave Wilson: I’m really excited to get back to the Cincinnati area again. Since our slot at the Tall Stacks fest in 2006 we’ve made yearly return trips to the area and the audience seems to really get a grasp at what we are trying to achieve.
This year is really starting to fill out and we’re glad to get a chance to return to places we’ve been and make inroads into places we haven’t.
(1) from chathamcountyline.com