Chatham County Line & The Swayback Sisters at the Grey Eagle

Review by Breanne Smith

Chatham County Line are local natives North Carolina. They had one enkindled crowd that harnessed their energy during The Swayback Sisters enchanting melodies. Their attire of suit and tie were reminiscent of bluegrass legend, Del McCoury and Tony Rice. The North Carolina flag hung in the backdrop of the stage, showing love for their home state. After 10 years together, they have produced 4 solid selling records and really dirty suits. They have sold out shows across the U.S and abroad, as well as played a few large- crowd festivals in Europe.

The Swayback Sisters are an all-female, close harmony trio based out of Asheville, NC. They are a perfect representation of old-school country soul. They dabble in Appalachian-style folk ballads, and dirty acoustic blues. They draw heavily on old school, and pay loving homage to musicians such as Memphis Minnie, Ola Belle Reed, and Bessie Smith. Their show was a bridge from the past to the future, with one foot firmly planted in the here and now. “Playing music with y’all is like eating jelly doughnuts.” Kyle Smith (guitarist, harmonica player). The trio switches instruments after virtually, ever song. Trading back and forth from banjo, acoustic guitar and stand-up bass, the band says, “Some bands do yoga or pilate’s- we trade instruments.” The trio also has select older standards and re-vamped covers in their repertoire such as accapella versions of old Appalachian folk songs side by side with popular hits done the Swayback way. Laura Blackey says, “You can’t get nothing out of your art if it don’t sting you a little bit in the process. That’s my philosophy on writing songs. I’ve been writing songs and stories since I was 5 years old. I’ve been doing it as a job for the past 15 years. I specialize in love and murder ballads, ghost stories, and done-somebody-wrong songs. I love the blues, rock and roll, and country music and you can tell it when you listen to my records.” This songstress has toured extensively in the Southeast supporting her 3 self-released albums. While she’s not playing gigs or harvesting honey, she is hosting her show, Southern Sirens on 88.7’s WNCW. Cary Fridley combines a musical mixture of roots, folk, and soul. She brings a refreshing twist to the often mundane and repetitive styles of the present music industry. Using her savvy lyrical sense, she paints her interpretation of life onto her audience as if they were the wet canvas on which she worked. Their show was an empowering hour of female talent.

If you came to the show not knowing who the men in Chatham County Line were, you left, humming their songs. Their fans showed themselves when the 4 men took stage by bum rushing the boys for a front row dance space. Singer and guitarist, Dave Wilson’s sarcastic banter between songs had the crowd giggling and intrigued. The good looks and pure talent of mandolin and fiddle player, John Teer, had jaws dropped. His ever- present smile showed that Chatham County Line is based on pure fun and enjoyment. They were not playing a show for the money or fame, but simply for a good time. “We may never grace the cover of Rolling Stone, but at this point, that is not something we care about. We might reach for the stars, but we’re mostly concerned with making great music that speaks to us and our fans.” Says Dave Wilson. All 4 band mates shared one large old school, Elvis style microphone. Chandler Holt, on banjo, guitar and vocals danced around the microphone with stand up bassist, Greg Readling. The 4 part harmony these men held was something I had never heard before. While they were in the midst of their song, “Closing Town” someone in the crowd said Chatham County Line reminded them of a more talented, less hip, and better sounding Avett Brothers. However, Chatham County Line embodied the persona of old style bluegrass while remaining catchy and enjoyable. The crowd that gathered was that of young, tipsy, college kids as well as older, veteran fans of bluegrass.

The band recently released a live, vinyl copy of their touring work from a show in their hometown, Raleigh. “Sight and Sound” has 20 tracks from all five albums of the band’s decade-long career. Nine songs appear on their audio CD  that expands the collection with seven more tracks (including two taken from a Christmas-tour show in Atlanta). Dave says, “Though we’re still going to tour as a four piece acoustic band, a record is something special, right? A moment that lasts forever.” He also says, “As long as they keep building vans and making ties,” Dave says, “we’re gonna keep wearing them out.”


You can check out their website at

And the Swayback Sisters at





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