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Rising roots band Chatham Rabbits share their story on TV miniseries

Chatham Rabbits rehearsing at home in Siler City, N.C.
Chatham Rabbits rehearsing at home in Siler City, N.C. courtesy PBS North Carolina

by Luke Taylor

May 12, 2022

Back in 2018, Sarah and Austin McCombie took a big leap. They left their full-time jobs as a teacher and financial advisor, respectively, and put all they had into pursuing a career as full-time musicians in a band they dubbed Chatham Rabbits.

Despite the long odds — and the interference of a global pandemic — Chatham Rabbits kept the vision alive, enjoying incremental successes along the way. ("We want to be like a hot-air balloon, not like a rocket ship," Sarah told The Current in 2019.)

Now, the McCombies are the subject of a new television series, On The Road with Chatham Rabbits, produced by PBS North Carolina, available on as well as on the PBS Passport app. One episode is already available, with another three releasing on subsequent Thursdays. The series tracks Sarah and Austin they write songs together, rehearse with their band, plan upcoming shows, and run the business of being a band, all while tending to their small farm and its animals.

The McCombies’ story is not necessarily unique; the idea of a couple anchoring a musical act is fairly common: Metric, Sylvan Esso, iLLism, Watchhouse and Arcade Fire being just a few bands who have a couple at the center of the unit. What On The Road with Chatham Rabbits offers, however, is a level of access to a band who aren’t afraid to be up front about their relationship and the challenges and opportunities being a band together presents. For music fans, regardless of genre, the program offers an inside look at a life in the music business. “There’s so many more parts to playing music for a living that I think people don’t really understand,” Sarah says during episode one. “The amount of time we’re onstage probably only accounts for like two percent of what we do.”

For fellow musicians, the series gives insight into perseverance, pragmatism and innovation. For example, a teaser for episode 2 suggests the program will tell the story of how Chatham Rabbits turned their pandemic-scuppered tour schedule (which had included a set at Boats and Bluegrass in Winona, Minn., in September 2020) into a series of by-request shows performed from the back of a trailer; following CDC guidelines, the band won over fans in lawn chairs, one neighborhood at a time.

Kathleen Kramer, a spokesperson for PBS North Carolina, says the first series will comprise four episodes, premiering each Thursday in May. Will there be more? “We have not yet begun planning for a second season,” Kramer says, “but we look forward to future partnerships with Chatham Rabbits.”

Episode 2 of On The Road with Chatham Rabbits premieres on Thursday, May 12, the same day Chatham Rabbits begin a May tour that takes them to Georgia and across the Carolinas. A larger tour, covering a much wider area of the United States, is set for June and July.

Chatham Rabbits - official site

On The Road with Chatham Rabbits - official site