Chatham County Line
The Pour House
After several hours of bluegrass on the deck from local band Flatt City and a mysterious opening set from songstress Lera Lynn (including a spooky, marvelous version of "Ring of Fire"), North Carolina's Chatham County Line gathered around a single microphone on the main stage with their flag-draped, county-line motif and crooned the crowd silly.
The well-established, Raleigh-based foursome, harmonized their way through several songs from 2010's Wildwood as well as a few classic instrumentals and old favorites. The new track "Out of the Running," guitarist/vocalist Dave Wilson, banjoist Chandler Holt, bassist Greg Reading, and fiddler/mandolin player John Teer produced effortless harmonies and barged toward the one microphone for solo after solo.
The intimacy of the show drew the crowd in tight, and Wilson's voice and harmonica floated over the three-part harmonies without glossing over its core strength. The single mic provided a unique way to project each instrument's individual contribution, providing a cohesiveness that could be broken down to its basic components.
After "I Got Worry," off of their appropriately titled fourth album IV, Wilson joked, "Charleston, it's been a while. I went to the Betty Ford clinic for addiction to Grand Marnier shots, and they said I couldn't come back to Charleston. I quit the program. This next song's called 'The Carolinian.'"
"She Waits for Me" was another great track from IV. Shortly after its conclusion, Wilson introduced Teer, "John's going to play a song he wrote all by his lonesome. And ladies, if you want to talk to John after the show, ask him about his tiny ... guitar."
The rest of the band left the stage, and Teer introduced his instrumental, saying, "I came home from a date with a beautiful girl and was inspired to write this. I never saw her again." After the brief mandolin-only song, everyone came back on and got back into a groove for the rest of the night. The title track from their third album, 2006's Speed of the Whippoorwill, produced a great flurry from the fiddle. New song "Porcelain Doll" was the smoothest and prettiest of the night.
As it got late, they fizzled a little, struggling to keep the crowd energized. Every time it felt sleepy, though, they rallied back. It reminded why live acoustic bluegrass can be such a great thing.