Folk-roots duo Chatham Rabbits found music and love

As young-old souls with undeniable chemistry, Chatham Rabbits - husband-wife duo Sarah and Austin McCombie, bring an original old-time Americana sound that creates the kind of rich harmonies only achievable by the closeness of a married couple. 

Considering themselves just as much storytellers as they are musicians, the duo’s musical journey began when they crossed paths at a concert when they were both students at different universities in the Raleigh area. 

“Austin and I were both in the music scene but in totally different circles,” Sarah said. “At the time, I was in an old-time band based out of Charleston called ‘The South Carolina Broadcasters’ playing banjo and Austin was in an electronic pop band. But, he also had this side passion for folk-roots music.”  

Sarah added that it was their common love of old-time music that brought them together one fateful night when Austin decided to attend a Mandolin Orange show where The South Carolina Broadcasters happened to be opening.

“After Austin saw me perform on stage he attempted to connect with me through Facebook and we started hanging out shortly thereafter,” she said. “We realized that we loved playing music with each other even more than we liked playing in our separate bands. We were both in college at the time so we started playing together at different restaurants in the Raleigh area for fun.”

A year after playing together, Sarah added that the couple got married, bought a house, and started what they thought would be their lifelong careers. 

“We both had nine to five jobs for about three years (I was a Montessori teacher and Austin was a financial planner) before we both became completely burned out and decided to follow our true passion of creating and writing music. So we quit our day jobs and took the shot. That was almost four years ago and here we are now!” 

With banjo, guitar, and tight harmonies, the Chatham Rabbits have a genuine way of connecting with their audiences and unlike most songwriting duos they split the songwriting fifty-fifty.

“We write everything ourselves and it’s very much like a fifty-fifty partnership on the lyrics and music aspect of things which I think is really unique about us,” Sarah noted. “I’m really glad that Austin and I can both bring those aspects to the table and we really couldn’t have planned for that to happen.” 

In 2019, the duo released their first album “All I Want from You” with producer Jerry Brown who’s most known for helping their influencers Mandolin Orange get their start. Since then, the couple has been working with studio manager Saman Khoujinian and are getting ready to release their third album in June of this year. 

Sarah says the couple feels the pressure more than ever to bring everything they have not only to their albums, but to their live performances as well.

“Right now in this weird world that we’re living in, the stakes are higher than ever for people to come to a concert,” she explained. “People are no longer deciding just to buy a ticket, they’re also deciding where they stand with their ‘risk-reward system’ etc.” 

“We’re fighting against a lot of things to just get people’s eyeballs on us in a room so it really does feel like there is a lot at stake which I think makes our performances better. We feel like we have this one shot to impress and bring people in and we hope that when people come to our shows they leave feeling relaxed, uplifted, and happy about moving forward with life.” 

In addition to touring and releasing a new album, the couple has another endeavor up their sleeve. 

“We are actually working with PBS North Carolina on a television show called ‘On the Road with Chatham Rabbits’ about our lives and it’s going to be released in May of this year. It can be streamed on the PBS app or anywhere else people can stream their shows, Roku, Firestick, etc. We’re really looking forward to it and to the future!”

Chatham Rabbits will take the stage at the Tybee Post Theater on Thurs., Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information visit tybeeposttheater.org

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