Raleigh’s Chatham County Line has long waved North Carolina’s flag internationally – figuratively and literally. Until April, the modern bluegrass and Americana staple used the state flag as a backdrop at its concerts.
“That was part of our show wherever we traveled,” says John Teer, a classically trained Raleigh-raised, Shelby-native who plays mandolin and fiddle in CCL. “Overseas we would always fly that flag and talk about. People would ask us after the shows about North Carolina and the flag. It (became) an image people knew – our pride and symbol that there’s talent and beauty and great resources (here).”
But the band members – which also include Charlotte native Dave Wilson, Chandler Holt and Greg Readling – decided to remove it as a form of silent protest of NC House Bill 2. The flag won’t fly Friday at the band’s show at McGlohon Theater.
“It’s down and stays down until the law is repealed,” says Teer, who doesn’t expect that to happen overnight. “Sometimes it takes so long for things like that even when you have a collective agreement. The way politics and the climate – things go a little slower in the South. I like to call it the gated community of the minds. If something is drastic, it takes longer to give into that. It’s just evolution.”
Chatham County Line is by no means politically affiliated; in fact, the band is steeped in the bluegrass tradition – although its sound has evolved beyond the genre over the course of seven studio albums. Its new album “Autumn” is out next week on its longtime label, Haw River, NC’s Yep Roc Records.
On it, the group continues to subtly expand on its sound. Bassist Readling’s piano work is more present on some tracks, for instance, while Wilson’s vocals and production bring in outside influences.
“Greg Readling’s the Superman or the Clark Kent of the group,” Teer says. “He’s such a great bass player and has those hidden talents. He’s such a badass piano and pedal steel player. Sometimes the piano is a color. This time it helps to drive the songs.”
But don’t expect five strings to give way to 88 keys on stage.
“A lot of times on the mandolin I’ll take over the melody the piano plays on the record,” he explains. “Those are two separate beasts. The record is more of your canvas. You’re able to create this whole organic, beautiful image. Live, you’ve painted your masterpiece and you’re able to show it to the world. It’s in the moment and it becomes this new piece of art.”
Chatham County Line
When: 8 p.m. Friday.
Where: McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St.
Tickets: $19.50-$23.50/$37.50 VIP.
Details: 704-372-1000; www.blumenthalarts.org