Here’s how one listener put it after a Chris Leggett & the Copper Line set at the Broadberry: “Your sound encapsulates Virginia.”
Leggett was born and raised in Richmond, absorbing the influence of storied Virginian songwriters like Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz, as well as timeless favorites like James Taylor and John Prine. He started out playing drums but was drawn to the guitar, and soon followed in the footsteps of a father who wrote songs in his spare time. “He always expressed to me that songwriting was a divine thing, and there’s always songs in the air.”
So much musical inspiration drifts around Richmond, and Leggett has moved closer to the source with each release. First came a pair of EPs, both on his Mush Brain Records label: 2017’s self-titled effort and its 2018 follow-up, Some Odd Years, where he renewed the partnership with guitarist Matt Elgin that started with their middle school garage band.
Leggett’s debut full-length, From the Idle Mind, marks the start of an exciting new chapter. The Copper Line took shape as a fully fledged rock group in 2019, when bassist Tucker Dean – a middle and high school bandmate of Elgin’s – and drummer Dave Pierandri joined up, allowing early pop-punk and jam influences to shine through Leggett’s sharp Americana songwriting for a unique sound that harkens back to alt-country’s raucous inception.
Recorded in Richmond at the Ward with production by Andrew Carper (Palm Palm, the Southern Belles) and engineering by Zach Fichter (Turkuaz, Chicano Batman), From the Idle Mind is a journey in and of itself — into a drunken haze (“Whiskey Breath”), through the heartbreak and resulting songwriting sprint Leggett experienced during the pandemic (“Eight Weeks”), and out into a wide-open, hopeful future (“Extra Blue”).
Things are similarly looking up for Chris Leggett & the Copper Line. Since playing his first gig at Alley Katz when he was just 14, Leggett and his bandmates have progressed to stages like that of the RiverRock festival on Brown’s Island and the Beacon Theatre in Hopewell. They’ve supported the likes of Neal Francis, Cris Jacobs, the Steeldrivers, and the Wood Brothers, though you’re as likely to find them playing to loyal crowds of their own at the Broadberry and the Camel. “I’ve been in Richmond for so long,” Leggett says, “and now I’m finally breaking into the scene a little bit.”