Chatham County Line Beats the Heat
Saturday in Atlanta was a balmy 97 degrees, with about 100 percent humidity. Inside of Eddie’s Attic, however, it was at least a degree or two cooler, providing a minuscule amount of relief to the musicians who stepped under the stage lights that night. Miraculously, nobody passed out from the heat, though brows were mopped after almost every song.
A sell-out crowd came to see returning favorites Chatham County Line, touring behind its new release, Wildwood. The new album may be heavier on the drums and steel guitar than previous releases, but the new songs were performed with the typical touring configuration: four guys in suits and one mic stand. In that setting, the new songs, particularly “Saturdays & Sundays” and the lovely “Honeymoon,” fit right in with the older tunes. The crowd, a little chattier than normal at Eddie’s Attic, nonetheless reacted enthusiastically for the new songs while shouting out requests for the older stuff. The band came through, playing a good portion of its excellent IV album, including “Chip of a Star” and “Let It Rock.”
Having seen the band in concert several years before, I wasn’t surprised at the quality of the musicianship. John Teer (mandolin/fiddle), Chandler Holt (banjo) and Greg Readling (upright bass) didn’t miss a lick, though they may have been sweating through their suits by the end of the second encore (a cover of Lucinda Williams’ “I Lost It” that needs to be recorded STAT). Dave Wilson’s powerhouse vocals are such that he barely needed the microphone to drown out the buzz of conversation in the Attic. What did surprise me was the general goofiness of the between-song banter by the band members. Wilson really seems to have come into his own as a frontman, cracking jokes during the frequent pauses to tune a banjo or a mandolin. Watching a band have fun on stage makes the live experience all that more enjoyable for the audience, and it looked like they were having a blast.
Opening the show was a local band, The Georgia Fireflies, who mixed its old-timey sound and love of murder ballads with modern conventions of drums and the occasional electric guitar. Banjo/mandolin player Leanna Fugate had a nice voice, and guitarist Jeff Holt closed the Fireflies’ set with a good, White Stripes-ish version of “Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy.”
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