Chatham County Line: straight-up bluegrass
Raleigh's Chatham County Line are four guys making great-sounding bluegrass music in a Bill Monroe/Del McCoury vein. (Actually, some listeners comment, if not complain, that there are "traces of Ryan Adams and Wilco in some of these tunes and arrangements". I'll just say I'm not near expert enough in bluegrass to pick that out...) They won Best Bluegrass Band in the Independent Music Awards back in September.
Guitarist Dave Wilson and bass player Greg Readling played with the Carbines backing Tift Merritt, and fiddler/mandolinist John Teer has backed Thad Cockerell. The fourth member of the group is banjo player Chandler Holt. They perform mostly original songs standing around a single mic. (Wilson says, "In the past, we have gone to bars on off nights, or just on the street, and started playing. We refer to it as guerilla bluegrass' because it can happen anywhere and anytime, all we need is our instruments and some real estate and we’re ready to play.")
For their 2003 debut recording, though, they worked with Chris Stamey (yes, him again), and this article has some interesting insights into the tensions between that no-frills attitude and Stamey's studio expertise. Fortunately, the band won out, and the music's wonderful. You can buy Chatham County Line here or download here.
Their website (which is very nicely designed, by the way) features MP3s from a Cat's Cradle concert back in September. I suggest you download the whole set, but here's a sampler:
MP3: "Nowhere to Sleep Tonight"
MP3: "Banjo Boy Chimes"
MP3: "WSM 650"
MP3: "Bacon in the Skillet"
MP3: "Born to Be With You"