HARRISONBURG — “The wind blows and whispers your name. The dog sits on the porch, howlin’ out your name. I lay awake at night screamin’ out your name. Come home. Come home. Come home.”
Music that plays to the beat of a Southern heart, Chatham Rabbits is a bluegrass duo that is bringing home the nostalgic feel of old-time folk to Pale Fire Brewing on Thursday night.
North Carolina-raised artists Sarah Osborne McCombie and Austin McCombie make up the musical duo and have been traveling to rural venues out of their van for almost two years to share in the comforts of community.
“We just want people to come as they are ... and we're not a religious band, but just as you would go to church. Like, come as you are and just relax and enjoy our music. I just want people to leave feeling better than when they got there,” Osborne McCombie said.
Original lyrics string together the warm sounds of her 1921 banjo, his 1941 Gibson guitar and their combined vocals along with intermissions of storytelling and a fiddle to reflect on the original songs that paved the way for raw bluegrass. Each song from Chatham Rabbits’ album “All I Want From You” tells the heartwarming and tear-jerking tales of everyday troubles felt by folks below the Mason-Dixon line.
The husband-and-wife duo began their musical lives in very different worlds, her a part of old-time trio The South Carolina Broadcasters and him dabbling in the electronic scene as a member of DASH. Somewhere in between meeting, discovering their common affection for bluegrass and falling in love, the two fleshed out their sound from their front porch stoop before going full-time and signing with Robust Records.
Mitch Collman, founder of Robust Records, said he enjoys working with the group because of their well-crafted and moving lyrics.
“I think they're synergistic with each other and the end result is more than the individual components,” Collman said. “Good music is music that affects people’s emotions, music that moves them. And I think they express emotions and situations and feelings that are common, and they express them in an interesting way with great music.”
Chatham Rabbits first came to the Valley in 2018 to perform at Spring Creek Town Hall as part of the venue’s supper series. Since then, the duo has returned various times to what Osborne McCombie said is one of their favorite communities and sources of inspiration.
“That's part of the reason, or the reason really, why we're trying to grow some roots in the Spring Creek, Bridgewater, you know, Harrisonburg areas -- because these people have really been major influences and friends to us,” Osborne McCombie said.
Patrick Showalter, a close friend of the duo and Bridgewater resident who hosts the band, said the two artists are kindred spirits to him and wonderful company with an amorous, genuine energy.
The Spring Creek Supper Series shared a post that said, “to know the Chatham Rabbits is to love them… If you haven’t seen the Chatham Rabbits yet, make sure to remedy that next time they’re in town. Pure-gold kinfolk, true and kind, with talent by the bucketful!”
The debut album released in January has been followed by three singles, and Chatham Rabbits plans to return to the studio in December to record a second album. Attendees of the show at Pale Fire will hear music from the first album, some new songs and classic covers played by McCombie on the fiddle.
Tickets are $10 and Chatham Rabbits will perform from 8 to 10 p.m.
“I just want people to relax and enjoy our music and enjoy our show as like a treat to themselves,” Osborne McCombie said.