North Carolina is a place so identifiable by its separate regions – the mountains, the piedmont, the coast – that it has the tendency to feel indescribable, meaning one can conceptualize the state as a mashup of places rather than a single locale. The art and artists born from the state often embody that same sense of blended regions, borrowing from broad cultural traditions and plumbing the histories of others’ stories on the way to telling their own. Because of this, many North Carolina artists can call a particular region home, but their work belongs to the state because the entirety of the state has opened itself to them and they have opened themselves to it. Chatham Rabbits exemplify North Carolina’s tradition of producing artists who embrace the state’s many cultural resources and diverse musical traditions.
In their marriage and in their music, Chatham Rabbits’ Austin and Sarah McCombie also blend their own histories into a shared musical experience. Sarah first took the stage as part of a trio known as the South Carolina Broadcasters, a band that harkened back to the old days of the Grand Ole Opry and AM radio country classics. Meanwhile, Austin played keyboards and guitar for an electronic band called DASH. Given these histories, how would Chatham Rabbits describe their musical marriage? “We’re not purists,” Austin says.“ And we’re certainly not the hippest,” Sarah adds. “But we’ve been able to belong nowhere and everywhere at the same time.” -Sarah Osborne McCombie
Sarah Osborne McCombie grew up in the piedmont of North Carolina. At age 18, her voice landed her onstage at Prissy Polly's BBQ with her favorite band, the iconic old-time trio, The South Carolina Broadcasters. After that night, they offered her a banjo and a job. As banjo player and vocalist for the band, Sarah played countless concerts all the while earning her degree from Peace College in Raleigh, NC. She has garnered tremendous experience and exposure to the wide expanse of American roots music. Post Broadcasters, Sarah served as the music teacher at the Friends School of Wilmington and at Montessori Community School of Durham where where she created and implemented programs based upon North Carolina music and African American roots music. Sarah loves horses, hound dogs, and Cook-out milkshakes.
Austin McCombie always loved the music his family played, but didn’t know it had a name. His relatives in Southwest Virginia played bluegrass and his parents in Wilmington, NC immersed him in 90s country classics (hellllo Alan Jackson with a mullet) and beach music standards. Somewhere in the middle, he found the name for his favorite sound: old-time. Although he eventually came around to the good stuff, Austin spent a fair amount of time on the dark side, playing guitar and keys in his super hipster electronic band DASH. Austin attended NC State University and in his former life was a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual. Austin loves fly fishing, bourbon hunting, and Gillian Welch.