Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line on "Sight & Sound" CD/DVD Box Set

Yep Roc Records has just released Sight & Sound, a collection pairing an audio set and live performance film from North Carolina-based Chatham County Line. Sight & Sound includes 20 live tracks drawing from all five albums of the band’s decade-long career. Nine songs appear on both the audio CD/LP and the DVD; four are exclusive to the DVD, while the CD/LP expands the collection with seven more tracks.

The idea for Sight & Sound stemmed from the booking of a show shortly after the release of the band’s fifth album, Wildwood, in the summer of 2010. Chatham County Line had arranged an August 10th date at the Raleigh, NC’s Fletcher Opera Theater, and without much hesitation the boys decided to film and record the whole thing.

I am thrilled to share a chat I had with Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line regarding the new release.

Can you discuss your inspiration for recording and filming Sight & Sound?

Dave Wilson: We knew we were playing a venue with incredible sound and literally 60 feet or something between the stage and the farthest seat. With a crowd full of your hometown fans, there is nothing better than pressing a record.

Knowing that you would be recording and filming the performance, can you discuss the song selection for the set?

Dave: This was our hometown release show for Wildwood so we knew that we would play a lot of songs from it. We don't normally work from a set list, but for this show we had a list of the songs we wanted to play from earlier in our career out on the stage so we wouldn't leave anything out of our live collection.

Why did you decide to offer fans a CD/DVD set?

Dave: Believe it or not, but a lot of fans haven't had the chance to see us live. We travel about as much as a we can and there are still pockets of the world that we haven't touched. For every new town in which we perform, there are a good many fans that come up after the show and tell us how long they've been waiting to see us. This is a great primer for the ones who haven't seen us and it is a great souvenir for the ones that have.

How has the band's live performances evolved over the arc of CCL's trajectory?

Dave: We have played a lot together. I think we realized it the most when we got the chance to back up Norwegian superstar Jonas Fjeld on a couple of records a few years ago. We really had the chance to play a ton of shows that weren't focused 100% on CCL tunes and we had such a great time growing together as musicians. To come back from that experience and play our shows, we realized that we had inadvertently memorized all of the freckles on each others faces.

We really have become much more adept at singing together. Chandler really never sang back in the growing years and now he feels right at home throwing in that 4th part. We don't use a set list so by this point the band can tell by a single note or the way I point my foot what song is next. You can tell that we've been breathing the same air for a while.

How has your songwriting and collaborative interplay evolved over time?

Dave: We started out as a band in love with what Del McCoury did in his show, but we wanted to focus on our own songs. Through the years we have gone from being in the shadow of bluegrass to casting a shadow of our own.

Can you discuss some of CCL's biggest influences?

Dave: We all individually have a love for the masters of our own instruments. Chandler is inspired by Don Reno and Earl Scruggs; Teer loves Bill Monroe and Jesse McReynolds; as a pianist Greg digs Leon Russell and T Monk; as a guitarist I am floored by the work of Clarence White and Doc Watson, and as a lyricist, John Hartford and Townes Van Zandt always bring a smile.

How would you say your live performances enhance and deepen the work for the band?

Dave: The band is forged in a lot of ways. The time we spend on the road traveling and living together is just as important to me as the time we spend on stage. At this point we have seen almost all that can happen on (or in front of) a stage. The more time you spend in the spotlight, the more you realize that what you did for fun as a child has become the meaning of life for a man.

Was there a sequence in the film that surprised you most?

Dave: It was great to have some of our friends interviewed for the picture. It was great to hear kind words from folks you admire and ones that you strive to entertain and keep interested.

Plus, the standing ovation didn't hurt my feelings too bad.

It seems as though CCL is touring nonstop. You have been on the road and have performed at such highly regarded festivals as Merlefest, Grey Fox, Rockygrass, The Winnipeg Folk Fest, Pickathon, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Shakori Hills, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, Pickin' in the Pines, 3 Sisters, Bergenfest (NO), Lowlands (NL), Take Root (NL), and the Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots (IE).

Can you discuss the commonalities, differences, and rewards between your own headlining shows and festival performances?

Dave: When you headline your own show, a lot of times 80% of the crowd has seen you before or is familiar with your work. At a festival it can be as low as 10-20%. We relish these times to show those unfamiliar with what we do, exactly what we do.

We'll be headed to Canada in a couple of weeks to do a couple of festivals and we area really excited to share our sound with some new fans. Festivals are also great because they bring so many acts together that you can catch up with some old friends and maybe make some new ones.

Having shared stages some of the most legendary performers, songwriters, and musicians, can you share one of your most inspiring and memorable experiences with one?

Dave: Chandler had a chance to play a guitar that Guy Clark had built and it was cool to see what a man does with his hands when he's avoiding singing songs. When you are around these masters of the game it is most important to keep your eyes and ears open and see how they work. You don't get to be incredibly respected by being a slouch. Usually there are a good few things to learn from them.

What have you been listening to lately?

Dave: The new Dr. Dog record is pretty sweet. We have a great local scene here in Raleigh and bands like Megafaun, Kenny Roby, Justin Robinson, Mandolin Orange, and The Rosebuds are putting out great records and putting on great shows.

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