If the bluegrass festival is bringing you to Raleigh for the first time, you’re probably looking for suggestions on places to check out beyond IBMA’s festival club grid downtown. We’re here to help.
Your guide is John Teer, dude about town and multi-instrumentalist in Chatham County Line, the popular local favorites who hit No. 1 on Billboard’s bluegrass chart last year with their latest album “Autumn.” Chatham County Line might be the only U.S. bluegrass band that can boast of multiple platinum albums in Norway, which they earned backing up Norwegian roots-music star Jonas Fjeld.
When Teer ventures away from, ahem, that Chatham County line, here’s where he likes to go.
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“We love the old brown-bar standbys with the history and smells and nostalgia that bring us back every time. Mitch’s is one of our places for eats and to have a cold one when we all get together to have a meeting of the minds or full-band chill. Whenever our Norwegian buddy Jonas Fjeld comes into town, Mitch’s is his favorite spot. He often speaks of wishing he could hop in a rocket and meet us there. Also some of ‘Bull Durham’ was shot there, and it’s a great place to watch a State game.
“We also like the PR (The Players’ Retreat), and Roast Grill for hot dogs and nostalgia’s sake, too. And Char-Grill, of course. When you’re talking about the Raleigh vibe, that place is the essence. And also The Mecca, of course.”
Bars and watering holes
“I do not drink, but I still go to bars and hang out. For bar atmosphere, Slim’s is one of those great dive bar sort of places. I love The Green Light speakeasy bar inside of The Architect for the secret-passage bookcase door, with a somewhat private and intimate atmosphere.
“Trophy Brewing and State of Beer are both really cool spots, too. And Big Boss has done up another batch of the Chatham County Line Autumn Ale they did last year, just in time for this year’s IBMA. It smelled nice.”
A cup of coffee
“Morning Times is a go-to for sure, day or night, and so is Cup A Joe. That’s been a Raleigh staple forever. I’ve been going there since high school and even played there with one of my very first acoustic bands.
“My threads come from all over the world. I really like clothes shopping in Amsterdam. But at home, I highly recommend Art of Style, right next to Raleigh Raw downtown. They have great taste in clothing, nice suits and shirts and really friendly staff. That’s my go-to spot, a fashion hub here.”
“I get a lot of my repair work done out of town. But for local stuff and supplies, Harry’s Guitars or Guru Guitars are where I go. They’re both right out by the fairgrounds. And Harry’s been around forever and they really know their stuff.”
“I like to chill at the Rose Garden, a secret little gem of a spot in the middle of all of Raleigh’s busy life. And just walking around the grounds out there at the North Carolina Museum of Art is a good thing to do, even if you don’t go inside. One of my favorite things is the ‘Oculus Hut.’ You have to know where to find it. There’s this tiny window in the roof, and if it’s not a cloudy day, it projects shadows of the trees and just looks so cool. Good place to meditate. And I cycle at Flywheel and really dig it — good for a 45-minute exercise power fix.”
“I’ve been going to Indigo Hot Yoga for about three years now, and it’s worked wonders. I’ve had problems with my neck, and it really helps a lot. It’s a type of healing place for me, and I love the people who work and go there. Great staff and really kind. Game changer for sure, I am a better person and musician because of it.”
Chatham County Line has two performances scheduled.
Wide Open Bluegrass
What: The band will play at Wide Open Bluegrass with Steve Martin with Steep Canyon Rangers, Hot Rize, Balsam Range, Sierra Hull and others.
When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. (Chatham County Line is set for 1 p.m.)
Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, Raleigh
What: The group will play Saturday at 9:30 p.m. on the City Plaza stage as part of the free Wide Open Bluegrass Street Festival.