Sarah McCombie (Chatham Rabbits) at Cohoes Music Hall 3/21/24 -Interview By: Rob Smittix

Written by on March 18, 2024

Sarah McCombie (Chatham Rabbits)
Interview By: Rob Smittix

RRX: I caught wind of your show actually from one of our photographers before I even really knew about it. I was like, yeah, get me on the list for Chatham Rabbits. So I’m like, cool. We’re gonna do that.

SM: That’s great to hear. I love that.

RRX: And then I’m like, all right. Well, who are these Chatham Rabbits? I need to know.

SM: There you go. And, yes. No, that is awesome. I’m like, when things can happen, word of mouth. That is amazing.

RRX : Yeah. the Cohos Music Hall, are actually our next door neighbors, our radio station, magazine and everything… our headquarters is right next door. And you (Chatham Rabbits) have a show there March 21st.
I think a lot of people that aren’t yet familiar with you in our area are gonna be confused because they’re gonna think that you’re a local group. Within our local area, we actually have a Chatham, New York. So a lot of people are probably gonna think that you’re from that Chatham.

SM: Oh, sure. Yeah. When we have played in New York State, Massachusetts and in Georgia there’s a Chatham, either, it’s a town, a county, a region or whatever. So, there’s definitely a lot of cross over there. We happen to be from Chatham County, North Carolina. Ok. So yeah, that’s where, the Chatham is coming from. But I can totally understand a lot of people think that we’re local.

RRX: It doesn’t hurt.

SM: No see. that’s fantastic actually.

RRX: Normally, I don’t ever ask about where a band name came from or anything. It’s like the most cliche thing that you can ask. But going through your information I saw that there was another group that was like 100 years ago in the past called the Chatham Rabbits that you named yourself after.

SM: Yeah, exactly. The area in North Carolina where we live is a very prominent cotton mill community. We live next very close to a river, the Hall River and there’s all of these little cotton mills that are along the edge up and down throughout various joining counties. And when Austin, my husband slash bandmate and I got married, we moved to Bynum, North Carolina. That’s one of these mill communities, these mill villages. We learned that back in the early 1900’s, that the cotton mill sponsored a string band, among other things; they sponsored a basketball team and a baseball team and all these things that were supposed to boost the morale of the mill workers. One of them being the string band. So when we moved to Chatham County and we moved to this little house… we were starting our band. We found out that the original guitar player for Chatham Rabbits string band lived in a house that we bought! Which is crazy. And then we also learned that Chatham County has a huge history of rabbit hunting, supposedly around the same time. Back in the early 19oos, there were so many large wild rabbits that people were coming from all over to hunt and harvest these rabbits. Then taking them back up to places like New York. I mean, honestly, there’s probably some Chatham rabbit of the meat variety that made it to y’all’s neck of the woods.

RRX: I mean, I would eat it, I’d try it as long as it was cooked.

SM: Exactly. But that’s where the name comes from and it’s a strange name that gets a lot of questions and commentary. So that’s kind of fun.

RRX: Oh, that’s pretty cool. And… so you and Austin are, like you said, not only bandmates but you’re also married?

SM: Yes.

RRX: God bless you. God bless you. I don’t know how you do it. My wife took a staycation this week and my boss told me to definitely take a day off this week. I’ll pay you to stay home with her a day . She’ll love it, he says. I ran the idea by her and she was like if you come here, I’m going to work! She’s like, I’m taking this vacation so I can be by myself.

SM: Oh, my gosh. That’s too funny. Yeah, being married to your band mate is its own subset of humanity and the other people like us that do the same thing. We kind of all have to gravitate towards each other. How do you make it work? Because you know, it’s obviously a creative partnership, but there’s also logistics and the financial aspect of it. Constantly being on the road and then when you’re not on the road, you’re at home together. I mean, we are with each other 24 freaking seven, except when we intentionally carve time out. We have to do that, it’s crucial. So, yeah, it’s its own thing and it works for us but it’s not without a lot of effort and definitely not for the faint of heart.

RRX: No, I think about it. There’s a band around here named Sirsy and they’re husband and wife and they’re always posting these videos of being in the van on the road together and they’re always smiling and stuff. I’m like, I can’t drive to the amusement park, which is like an hour from here without my family getting on my nerves.

SM: Austin and I 100% are constantly getting on each other’s nerves. I mean… don’t worry, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows over here but… we try to really hear each other out, really respect each other and try to find a lot of common ground. We are really fortunate that we do ultimately, really enjoy each other’s company. But it’s not without its struggles.

RRX: That’s the best. I mean, I wish my wife played an instrument. I wish we could be in a band together. I’ve been in a band for almost 20 years. So, I guess it’s kind of like being married to your bandmates.

SM: Exactly. It’s a whole other thing. Gosh, for 20 years and you’re in a band that long. I mean, there is some serious devotion and partnership there.

RRX: Absolutely. And we’re guys too. So we’ll throw it down if we need to.

SM: That’s right. That’s right.

RRX: So what are people to expect from a Chatham Rabbits concert?

SM: Yeah, so great question. We play all of our own music, so it’s all original songs in the Americana Space.
I play banjo and guitar and Austin plays guitar and fiddle and we both sing. We tell a lot of stories on stage as well. I mean, we really let the audience in and we really make it a warm, collaborative, lighthearted experience. But there’s also elements it’s deeply emotional or we try to touch a lot of human emotions just within a 75 minute concert.
So we’re super excited to come to y’all’s music hall and play and I should also say that the whole reason we even got this gig and we’ll be coming to your area is because Dennis or Doc who runs the music hall came to a show where we were the opening band, we were opening for Molly Tuttle at the Egg in Albany and he was there in the audience and just really loved what we did and hired us, basically right then and there to come back for y’all. So if he enjoyed it, I think everybody else will too. And it’s gonna be a super fun night.

RRX: No, that’s, that’s awesome. That’s amazing. I gotta tell you, I don’t know if they warned you about it but the Cohoes Music Hall is documented as being very haunted.

SM: Oh, heck yeah. OK. That’s very cool. I love this spooky stuff.

RRX: It’s specifically haunted by Eva Tanguay. I don’t know if you know who that is, but she’s the queen of Vaudeville.

SM: Oh my gosh. OK. The queen of Vaudeville. I’m gonna have to do some research, pre-trip to Cohoes, but that is so epic.

RRX: There’s been experiences there. A lot of people have had them. But the one thing… the reason I’m telling you is because bands forget to do this. Before you get on stage you’re supposed to ask her (Eva Tanguay) for her blessing.

SM: Oh, gosh, so she can really make or break your performance.

RRX: Yeah, I’ve even seen a video of this band KISStory which is a Kiss tribute act. They dress up, they do the whole thing. They’ve got… you know? Fire on stage. I’ve seen a video where there was like a spirit walking across the back of the stage, while they we playing. So, I mean, this thing is real. They gave her her own, balcony and people bring gifts and offerings. So you might wanna bring something.

SM: Ok. Alright. Well, this is good to know. I did not know this. So, yeah. Thank you for the heads up.

RRX: My friend’s band played there not too long ago. And I’m like, did you ask even for her blessing? And they’re like, what are you talking about? I’m like, see, that’s why you guys hit those sour notes.

SM: That’s right. That’s right. Well, this is really good to know Rob. Thank you for the intel.

RRX: Absolutely. No, I didn’t want to have you be surprised when something walked across the stage.

SM: That would be kinda crazy.

RRX: Now, another thing real quickly I saw on your social media that you are part of a thing… making a beer with carrots?

SM: Yeah, we worked with one of our very favorite, if not our absolute favorite brewery that’s also on the banks of the Hall River and an old cotton mill. It’s called Hall River Farmhouse Ales. And we’ve collaborated with them for a big hometown or home state North Carolina to where we did a carrot and Honey Vienna Lager made with all local ingredients. It was really fun to like, it’s obviously tongue in cheek, doing the carrot thing with our band name. But it was really fun to create that together and work on the name and the flavor profile and the artwork for the can and all that kind of stuff. You know? Just all aspects of it. It was really fun to collaborate and yeah, it’s sold all over the place in North Carolina right now. I don’t think it’s made its way out of the state. But if it ever makes it to New York and you see it… it’s so tasty.

RRX: It sounds delicious. I mean, I love my vegetables. I love my carrots. I got a juicer at home. I make carrot juice all of the time but I love my beer too.

SM: See, there you go. It’s a two for one.

RRX: It was definitely sounded like something I would like to try. I was like, man, I hope they bring some of that up with them.

SM: In all seriousness, I really need to see if the brewery can get us some cans so we can keep some on the bus and share it with people. So TBD.

RRX: Yeah, for real. Well, I really appreciate your time once again.

SM: Thank you so much for lining this up. And we’re really pumped to play at the music hall. We’ve heard really wonderful things and Doc seems like a really great person. It was so great to hire us. Tell everybody, you know, to come out and yeah, we’re pumped. We’ll see you guys soon.


  • W/S/G Zan and Will from Zan and the Winter Folk

Current track