Chatham County Line goes electric but a few times a year. That holiday show is a fan favorite.

Chatham County Line's annual "Electric Holiday Tour" is coming up.Scott Sharpe

Chatham County Line is bringing the “Electric Holiday Tour” to Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre.

The sheer number of holiday concerts that pepper the schedules of local venues this time of year can become overwhelming. Few are the musical acts whose fans eagerly await this time of year.

Then there is Chatham County Line, the local favorites who packed downtown this fall with multiple performances at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Wide Open Bluegrass concerts.

Rather than rest on their laurels, Chatham County Line’s members work for months in preparation of their “Electric Holiday Tour,” a December tradition for roughly the last 15 years.

“The show is always a freakin’ blast,” lead singer-songwriter Dave Wilson said. “We look forward to it all year long, wholeheartedly.”

What began as a lark one Christmas has become an annual opportunity for the local bluegrass stalwarts to stretch outside of their comfort zones, both in how and what they perform.

“We do an acoustic set at the beginning of the show, and we try not to cover anything there that might get done in the second half, when we go electric,” Wilson said.

“During that second set, every member of the band (has picked) one song that they would like to cover. Unlike other CCL shows, with the holiday shows we go a little heavy on the covers, as we go to the AM radio and pick a hit to do that isn’t maybe a mainstream choice.”

Last year, that meant audiences heard America’s 1975 hit, “Sister Golden Hair,” and Elton John songs have been in the mix, too. In November, band members start emailing and texting each other to consider song selection.

“The show is always different,” Wilson said. “There are always CCL songs that we do in electric form that we always do acoustically throughout the rest of the year, which is always fun. It’s always fun to add a backbeat to a song that you usually only hear on the banjo.”

Fans enjoy it just as much as CCL does. They eagerly await the release of the “Electric Holiday Tour” schedule. The cities on rotation are ever-changing outside of customary Triangle performances on the itinerary.

This year sees the band only venturing out of state to bring the production to Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C., after opening the short run at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre on Dec. 13.

Just like their fans, the band members have to weigh the anticipation of the holiday festivities against their available schedules.

“One of the things that I really like about this holiday tour is that we alter the cities that we go to – sometimes we go to Charlotte, sometimes Atlanta – to cities that are just natural towns that we would want to take the show to,” Wilson said.

“We have some (members who are) dads; our drummer manages some bands in New York City; and people just don’t have the time to go out and tour for weeks on end,” he said. “This helps us keep it to being something special that we do just a few times during a special time of the year, and everyone has a chance to bring family together and share it with them.”

The band has much to celebrate, with 2017 featuring the CCL Electric Show at MerleFest in Wilkesboro and the IBMA concert at City Plaza in downtown Raleigh.

“Those shows help broaden our palate on the stage and to keep things interesting for our audiences that keep showing up for our shows,” Wilson said.

Chatham County Line

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13
Where: Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh 27601
Cost: $18
Info: LincolnTheatre.com or (919) 821-4111

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