Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crossing the Chatham Co. Line


Traditional bluegrass has a unique identity in American music. It speaks to us through folk tales of coal miners, moonshiners and country folk dancing in the mountain dusk of a hard days work. The arrangements center around a mandolin, fiddle, banjo, acoustic bass and the incorporation of guitar. The lack of percussion derives the fast snappy strumming and the use of acapella-style vocals to fill the void. In an essence bluegrass can be thought of as atmospheric music as it incorporates the physical placement and distance of the instruments from one another and the audience to create an ambiance and layering of sounds. When done right, it is completely immersing.

Semi circled around a single stand microphone CCL bowed, strummed and jangled through a stunning set. The welcome atmosphere of the Carolinas enveloped the players with homage on this homecoming and the Chatham boys returned this gratitude in the form of the North Carolina flag as the backdrop(which they boasted journeyed far and near on the most recent tour crossing many a county lines and even an ocean).

While the performers moved in and out of the mic creating bass, treble and harmony at ease the awareness the members have of one another becomes a predominant feature of the live experience. As a first timer I must say I was soon an admiring fan. Taking the main stage at the Neighborhood Theatre the boys from Marshville and Greenville drew for me an unexpected crowd. The adoring fans were for the most part 50+ in age, not exactly conducive to the freewilling beerdrinking crew I rolled in with. Despite the retirement home feel of a seated and well composed audience the music spoke loud enough to send a message to young and old; Chatham County have a sincere and impressive sound worthy of the ranks of the finest to play the genre.

Lead vocalist Dave Wilson picks the guitar and leads the group as the primary star and storyteller. The sound is at times tradional as it comes (Del McCroury) and at others a certain modern swagger arises and their New Grass stigma plays out (YMSB). Playing all original material the band takes pride and strength in sticking to the sounds of later year yet still students of the modern evolution of all music, not just the music of the hills.
Fresh off a run through Scanadivia and Amsterdam the boys shared tales from across the pond and introduced the songs in native Norwegian tongue with the help of John Teer’s (fiddle and Mandolin) newly acquired hobby.

Having no prior knowledge of the group, lest the reputation, I was unable to connect with the material to the fullest extent that I would have liked. Despite not knowing the songs I had no trouble keeping up and I will be certain to catch this act next time they strum through the area.

Dank voor lazing…

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