For several years, they spent their late nights jamming and plucking stringed instruments in the basements and back porches of
"The fact that we're all great friends, that we all love performing and being around each other, is the most important thing about us as a group," said Wilson, the band's guitarist. "Our
The band comes to
"We were trying to be the next
That sound has been quite well received on a commercial level, as the band has notched four top 10 bluegrass albums since 2008. Their most recent, "Tightrope," was released less than a month ago and represents their most collaborative work to date. Where Wilson once would have taken control as a band leader, he now prefers to involve all the players simultaneously.
"I definitely wanted to write more with them because it's a powerful thing when we collaborate," he said. "Everybody has become more adept on their instruments than we ever imagined, starting out. So what we wanted to do as a unit was focus on writing an album of songs that we would all want to be performing for years."
Those songs include some very personal stories culled from daily experience as well as history. One track, "Hawk," mourns the death of an aging WWII airman who had befriended a man almost 50 years younger. It's not a story from the band's history, but a story from their world.
"Several of us have been to WWII veterans' funerals, and it's such a powerful event," Wilson said. "To see these guys in their uniforms saluting a soldier they never even knew, but fought alongside them in that huge conflict, gives you a slight idea of how dedicated they were to each other."
Today, Chatham County Line are enjoying the fruits of their labor and a renewed interest in American roots music and bluegrass. They hew a little closer to the traditional side of the spectrum, but don't begrudge the success of bands such as Lumineers that have plucked their way to superstardom by infusing bluegrass into pop and rock music.
"Banjo and mandolin always had the potential to be million sellers," Wilson said. "I think it's awesome. Music is a healthy, beautiful thing, and I'm in favor of whatever puts a smile on peoples' faces.
"I just hope they keep going to see live music and people playing their instruments."
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