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Sight & Sound

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Album Review

Chatham County Line are not a purist's bluegrass band, but they sure play like one, and the essence of bluegrass is in live performance, with a few folks standing in a semi-circle around a microphone and letting the guitars, fiddles, banjos, and bass come together in front of an audience. So it makes sense that Chatham County Line recorded a few shows in Raleigh, North Carolina and released the results as Sight & Sound; it makes just as much sense that it captures this quartet in excellent form and, as well as any of their albums, this demonstrates what they've learned from classic bluegrass and where they've added something of their own to the style. The shows documented on Sight & Sound were performed in the classic single-mike fashion, and the way these four musicians (Dave Wilson on guitar, John Teer on fiddle and mandolin, Chandler Holt on banjo, and Greg Readling on bass) bob and weave around each other recalls a team of talented dancers who are individually gifted but move together with even greater grace, and these performances sound all the more impressive as the players find the spaces in one another's music. In terms of their songwriting, Chatham County Line take a more modern melodic and lyrical approach to their music than most bluegrass acts, and Sight & Sound is an excellent showcase for their strength as songwriters. "The Carolinian" and "Nowhere to Sleep" draw on bluegrass conventions but with a modernist's lyrical bite, and the brokenhearted boy of "Crop Comes In," the family business gone bust in "Route 23," the civil rights era tragedy of "Birmingham Jail," and the small town guy lost in the Big Apple in "Alone in New York" are stories written with an uncommon clarity that takes no back seat to the superb ensemble playing. And when these guys kick into "Whipping Boy" or "Let It Rock," they boast as much swagger as any bunch of guys with drums and amplifiers. If the test of a good bluegrass band is the ability to deliver on stage, Sight & Sound offers one hour of conclusive proof these men have the goods and them some, and the set list is a reminder that they write as well as they pick; fans will love it, and if you haven't heart CCL work their magic, this is a great place to get acquainted.

Customer Reviews

incredible

the energy, the lyrics, the musicianship... the wonderful sound quality, all combine to produce my current favorite album... can't wait to catch them live someday soon!

an amazing live album from the single mic specialists

Chatham County Line has a great collection of studio albums, but the live album brings all the boot stomps that are present in their single mic live shows. Go see them live, buy this live album, and then work your way back with their studio albums. Either way, these boys are bound for glory. Can't wait to see you in Telluride.

Imminently Listenable

I first saw CCL live in Oct 2012 and was blown away by their ballet around the single mike stand. My favorite song on Sight & Sound is probably "The Carolinian". When I first heard it, the haunting lyrics brought a tear to my eye. This album is full of solid tunes and captures much of the live energy of the band.

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Raleigh, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Merging a traditional bluegrass sound and first-class picking with pithy songwriting that often confronts personal issues and political matters head on, Chatham County Line are a North Carolina foursome who first came together in 1999. In the mid-'90s, guitarist Dave Wilson was a member of a country-rock band called Stillhouse, whose sound merged Gram Parsons and Neil Young, when he met Greg Readling, a pedal steel player who could also handle upright bass. Both were interested in the possibility...
Full Bio