Chatham County in North Carolina borders on several well-known parts of the state. As part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, Chatham County is just a stone’s throw away from good food, good music and the biggest rivalry in college basketball — Duke vs. North Carolina.
It’s also home of the bluegrass band Chatham County Line. The quartet, led by singer/songwriter Dave Wilson, will be bringing their Electric Holiday Tour to Jammin Java on Wednesday.
Wilson said Chatham County Line were putting the finishing touches on their latest album.
“It’s been about three and a half years since ‘Wildwood,’ came out and we did a live record and concert film since then, but we’ve really been wanting to get a good studio record out,” Wilson said. “We’re getting a little bit older, so it takes a little more time to do these days.”
According to Wilson, who said the band is really excited about the as-yet-unnamed upcoming release, the record has 11 tracks and they hope to be completely finished with it by the end of the year.
“[We’ll have some] pretty pictures of us to put on the cover and we hope to have it out by May or June,” Wilson said.
The guys from Chatham County Line have been together for roughly 14 years. In that time, they’ve released five studio albums and are constantly touring. Wilson said the kinship and positive vibe the band gets from playing together has really kept the group intact.
“We just met through friends,” Wilson said. “We got together, pulled out the bluegrass songbook and played all those songs together. Somehow or another, the songs I was writing at the time sort of lended themselves to that instrumentation. … Fourteen years is a long time, but it’s really been a joyride for us.”
The Electric Holiday Tour is made up of two segments. The acoustic part of the show is the standard Chatham County Line show with the band performing from their songbook around one microphone.
“It’s about as far as you can get from most modern live music you see today with … too much technology and autotuning and things like that,” Wilson said. “It’s completely real and devoid of any David Copperfield-esque tricks.”
The holiday portion of the evening starts after a short break the band takes following the acoustic set, allowing Greg Reading, the standup bass player who also plays piano, to switch instruments. During the break, the band also brings in an electric bass player, a drummer and another guitar player.
“We kind of play covers that have touched us along the way,” Wilson said. “Every year, everyone picks a new song to sing. It’s not a lot of holiday material, per se, but the one song we always play is the Rodney Robertson tune, ‘Christmas Must Be Tonight,’ which is the first song in the Electric Show.”
Wilson said overall the band tries to present a positive message during the shows, without being “too youth group-y.”
“We just want people to come and have a good time,” Wilson said. “[Hopefully they’ll] discover another avenue of music with us. All the stuff that’s on modern radio today, I feel like … I grew up with a lot of classic rock radio and never really discovered a lot of great music like Bill Monroe or John Hartford … I never was exposed to that music growing up because they weren’t in my record collection and there was no Internet or Pandora to lead me down that path.
“We just hope our really good friends will drag their friends out … and they’ll discover a whole new horizon of music.”