old crow fans Forum Index
Author Message

<  Music  ~  Older Articles

Posted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 1:03 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427

Old Crow Medicine Show dispenses the right potion
By Dan MacIntosh, March 2004

When you listen to Old Crow Medicine Show's new album, "O.C.M.S.," you hear a little string band music here and a touch of bluegrass there, which leaves it a few giant steps away from much of today's country music mainstream.

So just because this Nashville act has just put out an album on the relatively large non-country Nettwerk Records, it nevertheless harbors no illusions about becoming some kind of a voice for anybody's generation.

"If you're real people, doing real things, you can only connect with a certain number of people," admits Ketch Secor, the fiddler for this five-piece group, which also includes Willie Watson, Critter Fuqua, Kevin Hayes and Morgan Jahnig. "Kids just aren't going to accept it. But if you can get through to the few that are on the fringe, that are ready to be welcomed in, it's a pretty cool feeling when you can turn somebody on."

Even after a show that Secor calls the group's worst ever gig, these Old Crows were still able to reach at least one impressionable young mind.

"The most difficult gig I ever played with the O.C.M.S. was on the Pine Ridge Reservation (in South Dakota)," Secor remembers. "We played at Little Wounds High School, and it was the toughest crowd I've ever played to. Playing to Indian kids...it takes your breath away to play to these guys because there's so much angst in the crowd. Whenever you're playing for high school kids, there's lots of aggression, angst, confusion and all the shit that goes on with people of that age group. But when you're playing to the poorest kids in the poorest county in our country - they're the poorest socioeconomic group - and you've got a bunch of white guys trying to tell them about old time fiddle music, it was pretty rough. They spat on us. They blew up condoms, and they tossed them around like balloons. They took a dime and wrote things into the paint on our car."

"But at the same time," Secor continues, "there was a kid that came up to me after the show - a kid named Luke Brokenrope - who said that his grandfather was a fiddler, and that they come from a long line of square dance people and square dancing and fiddle music has been amalgamated into Indian culture since a long time ago - especially with Western Indians. The fiddle became an instrument that was widely used and played. But not anymore, these kids like rap music. But this guy remembered that we were part of bringing that circle back for this kid."

This aged circle of musical traditions that Old Crow Medicine Show upholds is bruised, broken and worn in more than a few places. Yet it's still a living and breathing entity. And sometimes, its odd circumstances leave Old Crow Medicine Show feeling like strangers in its very own homeland.

"Well, because there isn't really a set place for us - us guys that are playing like variations of bluegrass and variations of old time music - and because there isn't really a set box for us to fit into, we tend to sort of float between the bluegrass festival world and the clubs alternative country and rock acts are playing at," says Secor, trying to explain how this group tours.Although its traditional roots are amply displayed on disc, Old Crow members are not at all ignorant about the wide variety of music that is out there.

"Critter, who's our banjo player, grew up with a real love of AC/DC, and he's a real master of rock guitar styling," Secor shares. "He can read all that tablature. He can play note-for-note all that Yngwie Malmsteen stuff."

The band's bio may name-drop everything from Nirvana to Public Enemy as its inspirations, but Secor, at least, sticks closest to the group's more acoustic heroes.

"I'm the guy who came at this with maybe the strongest background in the folk music," he explains. "I grew up (listening to) Pete Seeger and my mother, who played a little guitar and loved the folk revival stuff. So I grew up with all those Newport Broadside records. And I also have a real love of Stevie Wonder and some Motown stuff."

The members of this group first met in New York. (That's the state of New York, by the way and not the famous metropolitan city of the same name).

"It makes sense," Secor explains, "when you know the story of Ithaca, N.Y. There's more old time music in Ithaca than in anywhere in the Appalachians. Being raised around the old time music community in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, we always heard about Ithaca because there are so many string bands up there. None of them (the string bands) were from there, but they all gravitated there because after these players went down to North Carolina to play with the old greats, they had to go somewhere, so they went straight to Ithaca. So Ithaca became this place where the music was more traditional than where the music was (originally) from, (and) where the music was from, everything turned to bluegrass."

"So these old timers were the last old guys holding onto old time music. And all the kids were playing bluegrass music - which is radio music, as far as old timers are concerned. That (bluegrass) music has prospered because of radio in the '30s and the commercialization of country. These outsiders from the colleges, and these folk revivalists and people like that from California and New York and Boston would come to the mountains and find these old guys, and then take the music up Ithaca, N.Y. and hold onto it real tight so that the music there remained straighter than the shit back in North Carolina. So when we got to Ithaca and were a string band, we were one of lots and lots of other people playing variations of old time music."

Its Indian reservation show may have been its worst concert experience, but Old Crow Medicine Show has also had its share of good fortune, as well, such as the day it met Doc Watson by chance.

"We were busking in front of Doc's favorite restaurant," recalls Secor, "and Doc's daughter saw us playing there, and she comes up and says, 'Boy, you guys sound so good. My dad loved this kind of music.' And we're like, whatever. She didn't throw a tip. We're talking about tips, man! So she says, 'I'm going to go get my dad.' So we're like, whatever. She goes away. We don't think nothing about it. And then this woman comes back with her dad, and it's Doc Watson! And this is Nancy Watson, and we didn't know that at the time. And she walks Doc across the street, and we play a tune for Doc, and we play some old time stuff for him. He says, "Son that sounds good. You should play at this festival we have in honor of my son over in West Wilkesboro. Of course, we knew what he was talking about (Merlefest). As far as our connection with Doc, that was pretty much as far as it went. Doc got us that big gig."

This unexpected encounter with Doc Watson is somewhat indicative of how Old Crow Medicine Show's career has gone so far.

"We tend to go past the lines that tend to bring people together, like the press kit and the pitch. We didn't get on the Merlefest because of a pitch; we got it because we met Doc. We got on the Opry the next summer, not because of a pitch or a photo, but because we met Sally Williams at Merlefest and sold her on this idea that they need somebody cool at the Opry, shaking it up and playing on the street like they used to do. To be honest, we weren't that surprised when Doc Watson walked across the street and handed us a gig on July 5 because it seemed like that was the way things tended to work for us."

The Old Crow Medicine Show found a likeminded musical partner when David Rawlings - best known for his partnership with Gillian Welch - agreed to produce the group's new release. And not surprisingly, they hooked up with Rawlings in a most un-music-business-like way.

"How we met Dave and Gil, was another meeting of an organic nature," recalls Secor. "We were playing on the Opry, and Dave and Gil heard us on the radio in their car. It was our Opry debut, and they'd never heard of us before. But they just happened to be listening to the Opry, and that set the course of a friendship that's one of the strongest things we have going for us in Nashville right now."

Although Welch is the obvious focal point of the Rawlings/Welch pairing, true musicians have a deep respect for what Rawlings brings to their collaboration.

"Dave is like us: he knows the solo to (AC/DC's) 'Back In Black,' note-for-note. He knows the intro to 'You Shook Me All Night Long.' He's a music man. He's the kind of guy that knows what Dylan was wearing on the cover of 'Desire,' and he'll wear that to a party. And that's the kind of people we are, too. We just love music. And Dave loves music, and he loves everything about the stories of the players, and he's got so many musical heroes too - like we do. And we happen to share a lot of the same music heroes. So putting us all together - the five guys and Dave - into a room, was just like creating this clubhouse of boyish musicality. It was like going to a ballgame making that record. It was like being at a minor league ballgame, being right on the field practically."

Old Crow was recently a part of last summer's ill-fated Electric Barnyard tour, which found them in the good company of Merle Haggard and Marty Stuart. And even though this was by no means a money-making, blockbuster trek, it was nevertheless a fulfilling experience for these still relatively green musicians.

"Marty Stuart and Merle Haggard and The Strangers were there, and it was just a rocking night of country music. And The Strangers are so sophisticated, too. Watching Merle play is like a Cab Calloway kind of vibe. His band has got such a jazzed up flavor. It's like uptown country. I wouldn't even put it down as country. It's like country is inferior to it. And Merle is such a class act. The best thing about the Electric Barnyard tour was dinner. This was like down home eatin' every night, with Merle Haggard and The Strangers, and Marty and Connie Smith. It was like a country music dream come true."

Now that they're on Nettwerk, Old Crow Medicine Show finds itself sharing a label with Coldplay and Neil Finn. But one wonders what a big record company can do for this band -- one that has already achieved much success independently - that it isn't already doing for itself.

"The biggest thing they can do is put the record out," notes Secor. "That's the thing we had the hardest time with. We've been able to score some high profile gigs without a record contract. And gigs haven't really been an issue for us. We worked 125 of them last year. And we had some real highlights. We did Prairie Home Companion, and we did the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

"But we haven't really been able to sell records, except at shows. And Nashville really hasn't come knocking. We played for all of the big shots in Nashville, and they did not know where we're at, and they're not getting where we're at - even with all these gigs and this high profile stuff. They're not willing to take the gamble on a string band. But we found all these Canadians (Nettwerk is a Canadian label) who were (willing to take a chance on us)."

"What we were really pleased with was what they (Nettwerk) were able to do for, and with, The Be Good Tanyas," says Secor. "We'd done some shows with them, and we're all old friends. The Tanyas and us and The Hackensaw Boys, and a couple of other bands, are all a part of this very back to the curb kind of feeling that not everybody's really keyed into yet. I'm not sure if anybody could say that it's bigger than any one particular band or that it's a movement or anything. I don't know if the players themselves (even) know that they're a part of this bigger thing. There are a lot of people that are looking back and making the circle and the return to the music that's the foundation of American country, pop, bluegrass and all of this other stuff; the very foundational elements of the music. That's what we're going back to, but we're bringing something back with us. We're bringing 80 years of all the stuff that's in our heads collectively. We're bringing it back to the source."

My apologies if I ever post an article twice. It's getting harder to find articles and published reviews ... and my memory isn't what it once was!
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 4:51 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
And from 2005. A really solid review, with a line with which I think everyone can relate: "You know that feeling you get when you're witnessing something historic?"


Old Crow Medicine Show rock out Sellersville Theater
By Matt Grisafi, ASSOCIATE EDITOR 03/23/2005

Relative unknowns shine at a relatively unknown Bucks County theater.

There are a myriad of popular bands that are far less talented than Old Crow Medicine Show. Yet there was the five-piece playing in a theater smaller than your local movie house, and on a Saturday night in Sellersville, Pa., no less. Maybe that goes with the territory when you decide to play bluegrass for a living.

But if you're heard the Old Crows live, you know it shouldn't.

This isn't just a bluegrass band. This isn't just for fans of country music, jam bands or WXPN listeners. This is an American band embracing an artform our country was founded on, and without bastardizing it, giving it a modern edge that any fan of music can relate to.

The diverse crowd on hand at Bucks County's Sellersville Theater was evidence of that fact as teens and senior citizens alike were smitten with the Old Crows. (Although I must say it was more than a bit odd to watch a pair of white-haired seniors seated next to me smiling and clapping away like schoolgirls as frontman Ketch Secor sang the line "Well I sniff cocaine before I die," during "Tell It To Me.")

The Old Crows may be country, but they're clearly a little bit rock 'n' roll, too. Despite their sound, the band isn't comprised of backwoods bearded old men. On the contrary - they're 20-somethings who grew up on the music of artists like Nirvana, AC/DC, The Pixies and, of course, Bob Dylan, with whom Secor shares writing credit with on the band's epic single, "Wagon Wheel."

Secor's dry, sarcastic wit kept the audience entertained and connected between songs all night. As for those glorious four or so minutes when the music was actually playing, that was enough to make anyone smitten.

I've been to countless shows, and I can honestly say, without reservation, that this was one of the best I've ever been to; one of the best displays of talent I've ever heard. You know that feeling you get when you're witnessing something historic? That feeling that you better pay attention, because this is something you're going to remember for a long time? That's kind of what it was like listening to the smooth, rich harmonies of Secor and the peerless Willie Watson. Watson's uniquely distinctive voice is Nick Drake, Gram Parsons and John Denver rolled into one. His vocals take the Leadbelly classic "CC Rider" and "Trials & Troubles" to another level. And when Secor and Watson are joined by guitar/banjo player Critter Fuqua, in songs like the rockin' "My Bones Gonna Rise Again," it's a full-on vocal assault.
Musically, the band is flawless. Secor plays the guitar, banjo, harmonica and fiddle with an expert's ease. Kevin Hayes, appearing as if he's under the influence of a marionette's hand high above the stage, masterfully contorts his own strings in playing the guitjo - a six-stringed banjo. Morgan Jahnig helps bring it all together on stand-up bass.

If there was any complaint that could possibly be drawn from the evening, it's that the Old Crow's music is too energetic for an intimate 300-seat theater - or more likely just too energetic for the 300 people that filled those seats on Saturday night. But you'd be lying if you didn't feel the urge to get up and dance during barn-burners like "My Bones Gonna Rise Again," the aforementioned "Tell It To Me," and encore, the Grateful Dead's "One More Saturday Night."

The complaint doesn't hold much water, though. Who wouldn't want to see a great band in a small intimate setting? (By the way, if you've ever been thinking of seeing a show in Sellersville, I highly recommend it. It's a great little theater.)

At one point in the evening Secor joked with the crowd: "Saw some railroad tracks running here through Sellersville. That's about the only thing running through Sellersville ... but we know y'all like to keep it that way."

While I'm sure Old Crow Medicine Show wouldn't mind a larger audience in a bigger town on a Saturday night, you get the feeling that they'd be perfectly happy keeping it this way; zig-zagging their way across the country, "rockin' out" small towns like Sellersville, relative unknowns to most of the music world.

After all, maybe that goes with the territory when you decide to play bluegrass for a living.
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:43 am Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
Engaging interview with Ketch from 2004. The link is to a PDF file that is easier to read than the dense text below.


A Conversation with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show
by Frank Goodman (Puremusic.com, 4/2004)

The annual John Lennon/Imagine No Handguns Benefit was particularly good in Nashville this year. There were a half dozen standout performances among the many performers, but the most arresting and memorable for me was the string band rebels of town, The Old Crow Medicine Show, rocking the house with sinewy versions of “Crippled Inside” and “Bungalow Bill.”

Before rock and roll, before bluegrass, string bands and jug bands were two of the main mediums for people, especially in more rural areas, to get together and dance, drink, and let off some steam. Like a lot of blues music was rediscovered, string bands and related music were researched, revitalized, and re-popularized by groups like the New Lost City Ramblers and many others in and around the folk music revolution of the 1960s.

Old Time or old timey music has existed side by side with bluegrass since the folk boom—never as big, but it certainly enjoys a wide enough following to have its own festivals and devoted crowds of listeners and players, legions of them. As suburban PA youngsters, certainly my crowd of friends was collecting old country blues as well as string band music and bluegrass. It was all part of finding out where the music we liked, like the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield and Bob Dylan, came from.

Bluegrass got an incredible bump from the O Brother phenomenon, but Old Time and String Band music received one as well. (First of all, lots of folks out there wouldn’t know how to tell one from the other, if they both had a banjo involved. And it’s really not important—if it’s good, it’s good, right?) But, like Nickel Creek or Allison Krauss and Union Station, it really needed one good looking great sounding group to step up to the mic and kick everybody’s ass. And here they are. The Old Crow Medicine Show.

Along with fiddler and vocalist Ketch Secor, OCMS is made up of Morgan Jahnig on upright bass, Kevin Hayes on guit-jo (a six string hybrid of guitar and banjo), Willie Watson on guitar and excellent vocals, and Critter Fuqua singing and playing banjo, guitar, and bottleneck guitar.

They’re more than a string band, because they’re singing and playing original songs, not just playing hillbilly instrumental standards for people to square dance to or something. It’s like the name says, it’s a show, there’s a snake oil factor and a hip twist to the elixir.

I was very taken with their fiddler Ketch Secor, who’s extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the music that OCMS is playing, and he speaks about it very eloquently with no trace of purist diatribe. I never thought I’d see a string band with a hot label, hip management, and a big time booking agency like Monterey, about to take off and make a real living. In the age of Nashville Star, American Idol, and “reality” TV, it’s very encouraging.

With great pleasure, we introduce you now to Ketch Secor of the Old Crow Medicine Show.

Puremusic: Hey, Ketch, this is Frank Goodman at Puremusic. How you doing, man?
Ketch Secor: Hi, Frank. Pretty good, how about yourself?
PM: Very good. Where do I find you today?
KS: You find me in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, at the eighth inning of a game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Montreal Expos.
PM: Excellent. So it’s the top or the bottom of the eighth?
KS: It’s the top of the eight, the sides have just been retired. It’s three-nothing Expos. The Expos are playing pretty well. I’m impressed.
PM: [laughs] Are you pulling for the Orioles or the Expos?
KS: Well, I’m in an Orioles stadium.
PM: Right.
KS: I mean, Ft. Lauderdale is where they play, so I’m trying to keep my spirits up for the hometown crowd, but I’m cheering for the Expos, because I think they’re such a bunch of losers that I really want to see them do well.
PM: [laughs] Yeah. So you’re just back from South By Southwest [a huge musical event throughout the many musical venues of Austin, with bands from all over the country vying for the attention of labels, bookers, sponsors, managers, and fans].
KS: That’s right.
PM: I’ve never been. What’s that like?
KS: Well, it’s pretty crazy. It’s lots of people from foreign countries.
PM: [laughs]
KS: And that was sort of a surprise to me, because I think even more so it’s become an international affair.
PM: Really? That I didn’t know.
KS: But it’s a lot of music industry types, so it ends up coming off like one of those corporate retreat kind of deals, everybody’s got name tags. And it’s like you’re always on the job, you know.
PM: And everybody’s drinking to beat the band, or what?
KS: Well, there’s a lot of people boozing it up, a lot of people yucking it up, and people looking to get jobs, and trying to remember the guy you walked into the bathroom with, who your seat mate was on the shuttle, and stuff like that.
PM: Right. How many shows you guys play down there?
KS: I think we played four.
PM: And were you kicking ass everywhere you went or—
KS: Well, last year we were really kicking ass at South By Southwest, and it directly resulted in us being signed to Nettwerk. That all took place there. So last year was really our year. And this year at South By Southwest was not quite so grand.
PM: And why, would you say?
KS: Because all the cool stuff already happened to us.
PM: Right, you already had Nettwerk behind you.
KS: And South By Southwest seems to be all about getting behind young artists. And I feel like we’re already on our way, and I think it was understood. “Well, the Crows have a record out. They’ve got a booking agent. They’ve got a label. They got management, all that other stuff.”
PM: “Don’t worry about them, they’re fine.”
KS: Exactly. And everyone’s really looking for the young pups who don’t have all that stuff yet.
PM: And did you see any young pups who looked like tomorrow’s candidates?
KS: Open Road. It’s a bluegrass band from Colorado, finest bluegrass band I’ve seen under twenty-five.
PM: Really?
KS: Yeah, in my life.
PM: Oh, wow. Okay, we’re getting right on them. And as far as one could tell, didn’t even have a label, is that right?
KS: They had some kind of interest. They were talking about who liked them and everything. But that’s what all the guys talk about.
PM: Right. [Actually it turns out that their new release on Rounder Records hits the streets May 4th.]
KS: It’s kind of a flavor of the month vibe.
PM: [laughs] So what about at night—would it be hell raising at night, or early to bed? Or what’s the deal?
KS: Well, we raised some hell. We always raise a little. But we had just come off the road on a seven-day run with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, so we were pretty whooped by the time we got to South By Southwest. Last year I think we really tied one on, but this year it was pretty mellow for the Old Crows.
PM: Speaking of Rawlings and Gillian, I really thought that was an amazing record you guys just made with him. [David Rawlings produced the new OCMS album.]
KS: Well, thank you.
PM: I mean, that’s a fantastic disc. How far do you and the guys go back with David Rawlings?
KS: I guess the first time that I was ever made aware of them was when I was in high school, when I saw them play in concert about ten years ago. I saw them open up for David Grisman and thought they really stole the show.
PM: And was that around here, or—
KS: It was up in New Hampshire. So that’s when they made themselves known to me. And we made ourselves known to them on January the 12th of 2001, when we made our Grand Old Opry debut at the Ryman. They were listening to it on the radio. Like a lot of players in Nashville, if you’re not working on a Saturday night, you’re probably at home doing your laundry with your loved ones, listening to the Grand Old Opry.
PM: [laughs] Really?
KS: Yeah, that’s what I do, and play cards.
PM: That’s great stuff.
KS: So they heard us play our couple of tunes there, and that’s when we registered with them as a band.
PM: So that show—what turned out to be a fated show at the Opry—how did you get that gig?
KS: Well, through a whole lot of other twists of fate, Marty Stuart got us that gig. And it all kind of started when we met Doc Watson on the street corner. That was sort of our big break.
PM: That’s an amazing story—that his daughter saw you playing in front of a pharmacy in Boone or something?
KS: Right. That’s right. That’s how it went down.
PM: That’s rock ’n’ roll.
KS: Yeah. And a lot of things like that have happened. The way it happened, it’s like bing, bing, bing. It all involved these players who took us under their wings. And it’s kind of a classic approach to being in a country band in Nashville. Sometimes I think it sounds too made-for-TV to be real.
PM: [laughs] And some of those players involved were Doc himself, Marty Stuart, and then Gillian and David? What other musician buddies gave you a hand up along the way there?
KS: Definitely my friend Tom T. Hall.
PM: Really?
KS: Yeah. Tom came out to a bunch of our shows and was really supportive of us when we first got to Nashville.
PM: Wow. An unlikely group of people.
KS: Well, it might seem unlikely in the fact that none of the music is the same, and that the characters are very different, but the one thing they have in common is that all of those people have hearts full of country music. They’re all about music. And whether it’s country music, or whatever it is, each one of those players is a real life musician. They’re the kinds of players who are going to play all their lives and are going to be constantly contributing to the body of American music.
PM: Right to the grave.
KS: Yeah, yeah. And that’s what I’m setting up here as well. That’s what the Old Crows are hoping to do, whether this is as a band or as individuals, or however it falls.
PM: That’s the kind of guys you are.
KS: Yeah, we want to be like that. We want to be like the mainstay.
PM: That’s a beautiful thing. What kind of a producer was David on the disc? There are so many kinds. What was his role?
KS: Well, Dave just told us to play it again.
PM: [laughs]
KS: He didn’t have a lot of fancy stuff in there. I mean, it was a very natural environment, both at Studio B and at Woodland.
PM: Have they changed Woodland around much? Gillian and David acquired it at some point, right?
KS: Right. They bought it about two years ago.
PM: Yeah.
KS: They recorded their album Soul Journey there, and that was the first album made at Woodland in probably 15 years. And then ours was the second.
PM: It’s exciting. I mean, they really get into the historic rooms, B, and then Woodland. Michael Rhodes once said to me, “Oh, that’s the best live room in Nashville. That’s the one, Woodland.”
KS: Yeah, it’s very sweet.
PM: And as a producer, David wasn’t, like, getting into the arrangements—was he big on mic placement? Who was engineering? I forget.
KS: The engineer was Matt Andrews. He tends to do a lot of his work over at the Sound Emporium for some big name acts. But he’s a fantastic guy. He’s from up in Coshocton, Ohio. And I’m a Buckeye myself. So we like to talk about Clinger and stuff like that together.
PM: [laughs] And they had incredible old microphones and shit like that going on?
KS: Yeah. Great old microphones. I guess one of the things that Dave did in the production sense is he created this thing that sort of looked like a swingset—we called it “the rig,” and it refers to the microphones. We’re a live band, and in our live set, you’ll see us with a whole lot of microphones in front of us. Dave’s microphone setup had all these great big booms and all these huge stands and racks. So it looked like we were squaring off against some kind of like futurama machine, with all these angles and metal and steel poking out at you, with all these funny old mics and—
PM: And you just step up to the rig and let it rip.
KS: Yeah, that’s how it went down. It’s all live. There are a couple of things that we had to do a few overdubs on, but primarily the record is an entirely live record. And it was pretty much up to us to make the sound come alive. It came alive because we made it that way.
PM: The group just jumps like a son of gun, it’s fantastic.
PM: Now, there are two earlier OCMS records, gone or going out of print, right?
KS: Yeah. There are actually three records that came before Old Crow Medicine Show.
PM: Right, with the live record.
KS: Yeah.
PM: Now, are those earlier records going to disappear, or is somebody going to revive them? Do we know?
KS: Oh, they’ll be back around. I’m not sure who’s going to do it. It hasn’t been a high priority lately, but it’s going to be one soon. We sold those records in high numbers for—well, we’ve been in this 6 years now, so we’ve sold a lot of those early records. And we’ll make them available again in some form or another. We might go back and remaster them, because they were kind of scratchy. We never used a producer before David
Rawlings. We did everything on our own, so they have a homespun quality to them that we might improve upon in the remastering.
PM: Right. That’s a hot label you got now, Nettwerk. That’s a really good outfit. I mean, they certainly did a fine job with the Be Good Tanyas, and Ron Sexsmith’s last record or two. And that’s got to be a real kick in the pants to the OCMS, right?
KS: It’s really exciting to have a cutting edge bunch of young thinkers, Americans and Canadians and Europeans, all on board with the report. Look to Nettwerk to put out some interesting music in the coming years. I think they’re one of the real great underdogs.
PM: And that’s what the conglomerate is, Americans, Canadians, and Euros? It’s obviously a German-type spelling of that word.
KS: Yeah, there’s an office over in Munich. They do a lot of European dance music. And the label is based in Vancouver.
PM: Although there are some earlier records, there must be a certain feeling that this OCMS record, called Old Crow Medicine Show like a first CD might be called, is something like a first real record with a famous producer and a hot opening tour slot coming up, right?
KS: Yes. To us, it’s definitely like a first time, even though we’ve done it a few times before. We’ve never done it with this kind of support behind us, and we’ve never done it with such a high quality record that really says something and is consistent through and through. So it’s very much a first for us.
PM: And the package is really good. I mean, the cats look very hip—young and studly, and they got the punk vibe going on with the string band sound. It was just a top shelf package. It made you guys look as cool as you are.
KS: Well, thanks, man. That’s nice to hear. We did a lot of that design ourselves, so it’s got a lot of our own voices in it.
PM: Beautiful. I thought you guys were really amazing at that John Lennon/Imagine No Handguns benefit recently.
KS: Oh, yeah, with Dave and Gil on board.
PM: That was really good. You did that incredible version of “Crippled Inside.”
KS: I think that’s one of the great anti-war songs of our time.
PM: Wow. Was that a one off, or is that going to become part of the repertoire at any point?
KS: Actually, we recorded that over at Woodland, but it didn’t make the grade. We had a couple of songs about the war—it seemed like a good time to sing out against war.
PM: I heard that.
KS: So we had a couple of them, but neither of them ended up being within the body of this record. But you might see some of them on records to come.
PM: Good, because you guys did a bang up version of that. And “Tell It To Me,” that’s a good version of the many versions of the cocaine blues and jug songs out there. Where did you guys run into that version?
KS: Well, that comes from a group called The Grant Brothers, who recorded that in a furniture store in Johnson City in 1926.
PM: Wow! And is that reissued somewhere? Can that be found?
KS: It can be found, because I found it when I was seventeen. But for the life of me, I can’t remember what the record was called. All I know is that it’s The Grant Brothers.
PM: That’s a good lead. I’m a lot older than you, but it was about when I was seventeen through my early twenties that I was listening to a lot of jug band music and string band music. So yeah, we’re probably birds of a feather at different times, but not at different times of our lives.
KS: Well, it seems like you really need to listen to that kind of music to gain an understanding of what the whole picture is. It’s such a pivotal part of American music making, the sound that was created in the 1920s, before the radios, before bluegrass, before record sales were nearly as important—back in the old days when people thought that maybe they shouldn’t make records, like making records was a way that other bands would steal their live shows. That’s the way a lot of guys felt about it back then. They were very mistrusting of the A & R thing.
PM: Wow, that angle I’ve never really heard—“Maybe we shouldn’t make records. They’ll steal our sound.”
KS: Oh yeah. I’ve heard a lot of the guys talk about that. Like Gus Cannon said that. And I know Will Shade talked about that. A lot of these Memphis cats. Because the music was so competitive. And if suddenly somebody anywhere in the country could play your licks, well that’s just dangerous. I mean, is that worth however many pennies you’d make on a record,
or a free trip to Richmond, Indiana?
PM: That’s wild. I know so tragically little about the band, and the bio is so understated. Maybe you’d allow me a few historical-type questions.
KS: Sure. Shoot.
PM: I know that the members are from different places. How did you guys meet up and start rolling?
KS: Well, the band probably came together first when Ketch and Critter were in the seventh grade together. That’s when the two of us met and first began playing music together.
PM: And that was where?
KS: That was in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which is in the Shenandoah Valley.
PM: Sure, I’ve been to Harrisonburg.
KS: And then we flash forward about eight years to New York State, where I happened to be, trying to get in good with a gal, and I brought my friend Critter up with me. We met up with some players up in New York, namely Willie Watson. And then we dragged in a guy that I’d met on the streets of Bar Harbor Maine, he was up there raking blueberries, and I was on the street in front of a jewelry store playing the banjo, and that was Kevin Hayes. And we brought him down from Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he’s from. And we assembled a whole bunch of these players all around Ithaca, New York, where there is a very lively old-time music scene.
PM: Right.
KS: And that’s when we started our first tour.
PM: Was Kevin Hayes playing five-string when you first met him?
KS: No. Kevin was playing the guitar. And then about three years into the band, about halfway through up to this point, he switched over to the guit-jo. And at this point, Kevin is probably, in my estimation, the only professional guit-jo player in America. And I only say that because I’ve never met another pro guit-jo player. I’ve met people who use it in their live shows, but nobody who plays it solely.
PM: Yeah. And I’m all about finding out more about the guit-jo. What can you tell me? I mean, I’m trying to determine, as I listen to the record, “Well, that’s the five-string, that’s the guit-jo.” I can’t quite get a handle on how he plays that thing, and what’s it all about?
KS: Well, the guit-jo is a very percussive instrument, and it’s got the kind of hollowness that the banjo has, that kind of plunk that the banjo has, but it doesn’t have a twangy thing. It’s not really high end. It’s like an empty, hollow, bass-y sound. If you need to identify it on the record, once you hear it, once you identify it as the guit-jo, then you’ll be able to
determine where it is through the record. Because once you know what it sounds like, I mean, it only sounds like a guit-jo. You’ll never have it confused with anything else.
PM: And is he playing it fingerstyle or is he playing with a plectrum?
KS: He’s doing a little bit of both. Primarily he plays with a pick. He plays a 1931 Gibson banjo. It’s the GB-100, the Guitar-Banjo 100 series. They used to be prominent in bands like the Hot Five and the Hot Seven of Louis Armstrong fame. There was also a guy named Papa Charlie Jackson who made records and was included on the Harry Smith Anthology, and he was a Mississippian guit-jo player.
PM: Wow. Well, yeah, I appreciate that, because I’m going to go get me some guit-jo records and look into that. That’s a great sounding axe.
KS: Yeah. I think it’s awesome. And it’s a big part of our sound.
PM: Absolutely.
KS: Kevin’s got this kind of loose rhythm that sometimes comes ahead and sometimes behind, and it just adds to the fullness. If it was a guitar, it wouldn’t sound nearly as cool.
PM: Yeah, it would sound too regular.
KS: It’s got lots of rakes and pulls. It’s a trickster instrument.
PM: Right.
KS: He actually was able to play Sam McGee’s old guit-jo, Sam McGee being—you know Sam, one of the early Opry performers.
PM: Sure.
KS: Kevin played Sam’s guit-jo. It was about two years later a model than Kevin’s. I think he had a ’33. But Kevin found a guy down in Franklin who had Sam’s guit-jo, and he was able to play it.
PM: Reminds me of the first day I ever got to Nashville, I ran into Marty Stuart at SIR. And someone introduced to him. He said, “You want to play Clarence White’s guitar?” I said, “Yeah, sure.” [laughs]
KS: [laughs] “Sure thing.”
PM: So are there leader types, or type A personalities, in the band?
KS: Yeah, there’s myself, and there’s Willie, and Morgan, our bass player, we kind of divvy up the responsibility between the three of us.
PM: As democratic as bands have to be, there also have to be guys who come to the front and take care of different kinds of business.
KS: Yeah. I usually take care of the interviewers because I’m a talker.
PM: Oh yeah, you’re really fluid and you’re perfect for the job. Let’s see, is there a guy in the band who is always late or you have to go find him?
KS: No. I mean, there used to be those elements. But we cleaned up a little bit. We really had to. There’s a lot of responsibility once you get all these people on board with you, and suddenly you’re supporting everybody else’s families. That’s when you realize that you got to take your job seriously, so that’s what we did.
PM: Are you guys living together at this point?
KS: No.
PM: No. Everybody’s got their own digs. Families?
KS: Yeah. I’m married. But I’m the only married guy. But the other guys have got their own lives going on in Nashville. And who knows where we’re going to end up. I don’t think Nashville is going to be the home for the Old Crows forever. We’ve been here for about four years now. And when we first came to town, we moved into a house together, all of us, on Dickerson Road [a pretty wild hood, lots of hookers and cracktivity, and so forth].
PM: Wild.
KS: We’re just as happy as ever to get the hell out of that dump.
PM: No kidding! [laughs] When did you first get turned on to string band music, and did you ever play a different kind of music, or have you been playing this kind of music right from the get?
KS: Well, the Old Crows have always played this kind of music. We never played something else. We were initially a string band that has evolved into something more than a string band, writing our own songs and covering some tunes, et cetera. But for the individual members, everybody started with something other than traditional music. Myself, I started with just learning rudimentary chords so that I could play rock songs. I really got sold early on in my life on folk revival music. The first song I ever learned to play was a Tom Paxton song.
PM: “The Last Thing on My Mind,” or which one?
KS: It was “Ramblin’ Boy.”
PM: That’s a real big favorite in my family. We all played that.
KS: Oh, yeah?
PM: So it’s mind blowing to hear you say that.
KS: Yeah.
PM: And “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound,” too, that one.
KS: Yeah, that’s a great one.
PM: Small world.
KS: Well, I had this Newport Broadside record that I was really, really crazy about. It was 1963 at the Newport Folk Festival. And I learned a lot of licks off of that. And I was singing “You Playboys and Playgirls,” and a bunch of Bob Dylan tunes pretty soon thereafter. So I got to give props to Bob. I think that Bob is really the main one, the integral force in making me want to play jug band music and making me want to go back to the source.
PM: Wow.
KS: Because Bob is such a literate guy, and his songs so easily throw you back in time.
PM: Yep.
KS: All these characters he conjures up. Even just the general words he chooses, they’re coming from somewhere else, they’re coming from before. And you can go back there easily with just a library card, you can figure out who played what and how it all went down. And I’m a history man.
PM: What about the other guys? What were they playing before they came to traditional music?
KS: Well, Critter was something of an electric guitar prodigy. He was playing all of these tablature licks right out of those rock ’n’ roll magazines.
PM: Arlen Roth and all those guys, right?
KS: He was really hitting like Diamond Darrell from Pantera.
PM: Dime Bag! [laughs]
KS: Yeah, man. And he really liked like Queensryche, and all that just kind of bullshit metal.
PM: [laughs] Oh, that’s hilarious.
KS: He learned like all of those licks, like Yngwie Malmstein and like David Mustaine [of Megadeath fame].
PM: Oh, my Lord!
KS: So that was Critter.
And Willie was in this young folksy kind of jam element acoustic band that was really popular in the southern tier region of New York State where we grew up. So he was playing shows statewide by the time he was sixteen, playing the guitar, and being the lead vocalist in this group that had some congas and some clawhammer banjo and some real folk element to it.
PM: What was their name?
KS: They were called The Funnest Game.
PM: Cool. And how about Morgan?
KS: Morgan, he was born and raised up in Chattanooga. And he grew up playing brass in school. Then he hit the rockabilly scene pretty hard right out of high school and moved to New York and played rockabilly bass.
PM: Wow.
KS: We met Morgan on the street corner in Nashville. He was just walking by with his old man while we were busking there. And then we lost our bass player, Benny—he had a baby, and couldn’t swing it down south. So the street corner brought a lot of players to us. It brought both Morgan and Kevin, and it really helped to hone the skills that the Old Crows developed through the years of how to hold an audience. We learned a lot on the street corners. We learned a lot from street performers, and from being that kind of performer ourselves. That’s very much a part of what we’re doing.
PM: Is the range of music that you guys are listening to now very wide or very focused?
KS: It’s very wide. I mean, it really isn’t contained by any terms or genres, because when you love music or when you play music professionally, it’s almost a responsibility you have to know as much as you possibly can—whether it’s about the history of country music, which is something I really love, or the history of jazz music, which is something that Kevin really loves. So whatever it is—I mean, I’ve got every Bob Dylan record. I think there are 61 of them.
PM: Holy geez.
KS: I’d like to have every Willie Nelson. I think there are 123 of them.
PM: [laughs]
KS: And I like Neil Young a lot. When you love music, these guys, they’re not going to let you down. They’re going to keep putting out great stuff, and they’ve continued to. So my collection keeps growing with every year. [Turning away slightly, he says “I’ll meet you up there, Dad.”] Expos win.
PM: Expos win. [laughs] Are there any religious or spiritual guys in the band?
KS: There’s a spiritual nature to what’s going on, but it’s not summed up by any divination. But when you play the music—when you play the soundtrack of what came before, from this kind of older idyllic time, you can’t help but feel—I mean, I’m singing these songs that have come out of somebody’s mouth already, and I’m learning it from these old dead men, so there are a lot of elements of the supernatural involved as well.
PM: Well, that’s a beautiful note to wind up on. I really think you’re a fascinating cat.
KS: Thank you.
PM: And I love the music of OCMS. I think you guys doing something really important.
KS: Well, that’s what we’re going to keep on doing, man. I’m glad that you see it that way. And it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thanks a lot.
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 1:13 pm Reply with quote
Old Crow Joined: 16 Nov 2005 Posts: 577 Location: Chicago, Illinois
"...and Dave and Gil heard us on the radio in their car."

I thought they were doing laundry? Really doesn't matter I guess...
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:20 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
And from the Onion, but I can't find its publication date.


It's hard to imagine why five young men would want to strap on acoustic string instruments and try like hell to sound like Appalachian pickers from the '30s. It's not like authentic period bluegrass is all that tough to find, and there's always a danger, when the rock 'n' roll generation turns neo-trad, that the result will come off as little more than a smirky novelty. (See: Bad Livers, Hayseed Dixie.) So, first and foremost, credit the raucous folk quintet Old Crow Medicine Show for not sounding like a big joke. Sure, the group plays with punky abandon, and yes, it digs up curious mountain-music chestnuts like "Tell It To Me" (a simultaneous celebration of corn liquor and condemnation of cocaine), but all that proves is that the band isn't humorless. It also shows savvy in its choice of David Rawlings to produce its major-label debut, O.C.M.S. Rawlings is equally at home with hardcore traditionalist folk music and more modern alt-country, and he knows how to refurbish antiques, making them functional without losing their classic quality. For proof, listen to Old Crow Medicine Show's vigorous performance of "Tear It Down," where Ketch Secor's affected, nasal lead vocals and the group's purposefully rinky-dink backup vocals sound like they were lifted from an old 78, while the mix of guitars, banjo, upright bass, and fiddle sounds fresh and vibrant. The track seems familiar, but not dusty. It's also telling that the best song on O.C.M.S. is an original, "Big Time In The Jungle"—a Vietnam narrative that connects Old Crow Medicine Show to hippie-era jug-band revivalists like Country Joe & The Fish and Mungo Jerry. The result proves that the best throwback musicians steer clear of redundancy when they see their tradition as a living, growing thing, not to be preserved under glass.
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 3:30 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427

Published: Friday, September 29, 2006

Old Crow Medicine Shows us the ‘Big Iron’
By David Thier

Add a jarring blast of punk rock and cocaine to mountain music and you get Old Crow Medicine Show. Their first release, 2003’s “O.C.M.S.,” hit the bluegrass world like a freight train, and crashed through to let every other genre of music know something was going on. Bluegrass had long since ceded the spirit of the badass rambler to punk, rock, indie, even hip hop, but “O.C.M.S.” saw part of that spirit return home, changed through its pop culture journey but screaming through the fiddle like it always did.

“O.C.M.S.” was a tough act to follow. The album was popular partly because of its consistent attitude and honesty, but perhaps primarily because of its unstoppable southern anthem, “Wagon Wheel.” It brought the band appearances at venues from the Grand Ole Opry to Bonnaroo, alongside names like Del McCoury, Dolly Parton and Doc Watson, and made countless throats hoarse shouting “Rock me Mama like a Wagon Wheel.” Their second full-length release, “Big Iron World,” has no “Wagon Wheel,” but the album drives home their unique brand of unflinching aggressive bluegrass as well as anyone could ask.

“Big Iron World” opens with a bluesy drawl and a dobro slide. “Down Home Girl,” a classic ode to the farm girl, features a stripped-down guitar accompaniment that punches straight through the lazy dobro. Willie Watson sings over this slowly, angrily and with conviction. On “Don’t Ride that Horse,” a bluesy song that could have come off Bob Dylan and the Band’s “Basement Tapes,” Old Crow follows the newfound percussive leanings of their colleagues, Yonder Mountain String Band. Singer-songwriter Gillian Welch taps cool drums alongside smug vocals and a mean banjo to paint a picture of a smoke-filled room and a bitter old rounder.

While a song like “Down Home Girl” has mass appeal, the next two songs, “Cocaine Habit” and “Minglewood Blues,” pull no punches. Fast, loud and almost hokey, this is real bluegrass, and anyone not prepared to face mountain music head on should give up now. Once past this, though, the energy and drive of Old Crow’s up-tempo tracks are not to be missed. While these songs run the gambit from fiddle tunes, rags to gospel, the guitar slaps the downbeat with the same power across the board. The members of Old Crow mean what they say and do what they set out to do.

While “Big Iron World” explores new ground on tracks like “Don’t Ride that Horse,” it clearly has one foot stuck in “O.C.M.S.” “Cocaine Habit” is less of a new song than a sequel to “Tell it to Me” off of “O.C.M.S.” Same melody, same chord progression, same subject matter, same f-cking song. Funny, guys; please don’t do it again. “My Good Gal” has the same basic idea and structure as “We’re All in This Together,” as well as some of the same licks. Old Crow also certainly noted the success of “Wagon Wheel,” and that same swelling, epic sense is evident on many of these new songs, including “Don’t Ride That Horse,” “I Hear Them All” and “James River Blues.” The last of these three deserves special mention — it seems like Old Crow wants “James River Blues” to inherit the mantle of “Wagon Wheel.” A luddite wail, it takes on the tragedy of industrialization, fertile ground for some of the best folk songs ever written. Replete with howling fiddle and chilling mountain harmonies, the track hits right on the money.

“Big Iron World” was long anticipated after “O.C.M.S.” and it proves to be all a fan could ask for out of Old Crow’s second album. They show range within the repertoire of old-time, blues, gospel and folk, but never give up on their own mournful, strong and unique style. More serious than their partners in trendy bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Old Crow holds nothing back, and that conviction comes across in every one of their songs. In short, they are badass.
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:38 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427

October 05, 2005
Photos: Old Crow Medicine Show


Rough and loving it

Monday night I stopped by the Hummingbird to catch a special Old Crow Medicine Show appearance. Telegraph photographer Grant Blankenship kindly shot a few photos of the gents for me, and I should have a review posted by the end of the day.


Fiddlin' while Macon jams


Picker's eye view

Posted by Maggie on October 5, 2005 at 12:29 PM

October 08, 2005
Gimme that old-time music

Sorry for the delay posting this one--got more swamped than usual at work this past week. Guess Little Richard coming to town will do that to you.

Old Crow Medicine Show at the Hummingbird last Monday were exhilarating to behold. My first impression was of punks who've gone all old-timey/bluegrass. There was swearing! And they were very frenetic with their instruments.

I was very happy to see a fiddle among the instrumentation, being a (very) lapsed violinist myself. I remember seeing a fiddler for the first time when I was watching Sesame Street as a kid, and while I only played classical during my few years with the instrument, I've always had a soft spot for some fiddlin'. It didn't hurt that the fiddler in question (Ketch Secor) looked like a Ferris Bueller's Day Off-era Charlie Sheen. I'm weak, I admit it.

Pretty much every song was a keeper, from the old-timey "Tear it Down" (complete with hillbilly counterpoint!), the close harmonies on "There'll be better days" and "Tell It to Me" with the lyric, "Cocaine, you're gonna kill my honey dead." That one comes out like a Tin Pan Alley tune with a pro-corn liquor stance.

On the whole they tend toward almost violently jaunty tunes, some of which have a running-off-the-rails quality to them. Their big hit, "Wagon Wheel" is more sedate (and yet still kinda raunchy.) I think I could best describe their sound as an amalgam of bluegrass, folk, old-timey music with punk attitude.

I couldn't help but compare them to the last bluegrassy band I saw, The Biscuit Burners. They're almost two sides of the same coin. Where the Burners are smooth, modern and hypnotic, OCMS are hyperactive, nostalgic and edgy. OCMS also were more focused on songcraft than solos, which makes them different than a lot of bluegrass bands. I liked 'em both.

Posted by Maggie on October 8, 2005 at 08:51 PM
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:54 am Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
A nice article from the 'old' days. It shows me again that the boys are both thinkers and entertainers.

From: http://www.nashvillescene.com/Stories/Arts/2002/04/18/As_the_Crow_Flies/index.shtml#

April 18, 2002

As the Crow Flies
The Old Crow Medicine Show keep an eye on the present while invoking American popular music of the 1920s

By Paul Griffith

The Old Crow Medicine Show

Playing 9 p.m. April 18 at Station Inn

For more information, visit http://www.crowmedicine.com/

With the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? winning this year’s coveted Album of the Year Grammy, there’s no denying that roots music is hot. Though it remains to be seen whether hardheaded country radio will reclaim the traditional sound, banjos, dulcimers and fiddles are currently making appearances in nightclubs all over Music City. Of this crop of neo-traditional American bands—which also includes Starlings TN and Central Ave.—recent arrivals The Old Crow Medicine Show might be the most loyal to old-time principles.

The band began life busking on street corners during the summer of 1998, first in upstate New York and later on the Canadian west coast. To connect more deeply with the music that obsessed them, the Medicine Show eventually rambled to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, squatting on a mountain farm complete with crops and livestock. A move to Nashville was the next logical step.

“There’s always been porch music played for family and friends, but what made you an urban musician in the ’20s,” says Ketch Secor, the band’s fiddler/vocalist, “was that you went out and made a career. And with this whole drive for traditional music, we might as well be back in time, ’cause there’s not that much difference. Here we are, a token string band coming from these funny places in East Tennessee and North Carolina with no running water, moving to the capital city in a big Cadillac car.”

Despite their time spent in the eastern hill country, it would be a mistake to label this quintet’s music “bluegrass” or even “Appalachian.” Their live performances—which involve all the cacophony and snake oil of an actual medicine show—reflect their move down from the mountain to the metropolis, and are as likely to include songs by black stringband the Mississippi Sheiks as they are those of Virginia-born banjoist Dock Boggs.

“Musically, we’ve made this shift from mostly Appalachian string music to a more 1920s urban, black blues flavor,” reports Secor. “We’re still trying to be true to the medicine show concept, but also give a more well-rounded look at what music was like before the Depression, before bluegrass, before the blues became Chicago- and New York-influenced. After all, [Memphis musician] Rufus Thomas was in a medicine show long before he wrote 'The Funky Chicken.’ The most important thing is that we not become a greatest hits package of the 1920s, rather to take something that came before and make it feel current, make it feel necessary.”

Though it might seem like a contradiction at first, OCMS’ urge to make this world of wax-cylinder recordings and musical hoboism alive and necessary can be traced to their shared background in punk rock. “We were really into Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and the Pixies...,” relates Secor, “about 12 or 13 years old and buying up this stuff and feeling like a part of something.” Fascination with Nirvana led to Bob Dylan, which led to Woody Guthrie, which led to Blind Willie McTell and the Delmore Brothers.

“You find out where Woody learned his stuff from, and it’s mind-blowing,” says Secor, who sees little difference between punk’s frenetic energy and the groove-oriented fiddle tunes of the American South. “They’re so much like where I started from.... It’s all rhythm and drive and much less melodic than the French or Irish stuff because of the introduction of clawhammer banjo from African slaves. I’ve spent so many hours thinking of when the first fiddle met the first banjo, because I think that’s the conception of everything that you call American music.”

Since arriving in Nashville a year and a half ago, OCMS have aptly ridden the neo-traditional wave. From initial gigs playing for spare tourist change at the Opry Plaza, the band have rapidly become a popular opening act, regularly performing alongside the likes of Ricky Scaggs, Del McCoury, Loretta Lynn and Doc Watson. “As soon as we moved here, we started working cool jobs,” says Secor. “We did a lot of busking, but we didn’t have to play near as many dives as most kids when they come to this town.” In January 2001, the band found themselves invited to perform on the Opry, and their debut on the tradition-friendly Ryman Auditorium stage received a standing ovation.
OCMS’ unique look—old-time shabby chic meets third-generation punk—has also led to television and video work. The band will appear in Matthew Teater’s upcoming documentary on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance (the nation’s second oldest radio show), and they were recently featured on PBS’ American Roots Music series.

Despite the excitement currently surrounding Secor and his twentysomething bandmates—Willie Watson (vocals/guitar), Critter Fuqua (banjo), Morgan Jahnig (upright bass) and Wheatstraw (gitjo, a six-stringed banjo played like a guitar)—OCMS have not lost their street-corner perspective. “The touring that we’ve been doing during the past year has been a lot different than what we’re used to. It’s funny to see these people who’ve paid 16 bucks to be sitting down when we’re used to seeing them upright and walking by for a $2 ticket. But going out with bigger artists and playing to bigger rooms and trying to learn how to be a hot opening number has been a fun challenge.”

It’s anybody’s guess whether the current interest in traditional music is a movement with some permanence or merely a passing fad. For their part, The Old Crow Medicine Show—whose second self-produced CD, Eutaw, was released last year—maintain a healthy skepticism. Though the band have been approached by several record labels and are currently recording tracks with producer/guitar ace David Rawlings, they’re not yet convinced that traditional music is primed to take over the airwaves.

“There’s this tendency with the industry to make ultimatums, like, 'Here’s the new thing, bow down before the new thing.’ ” Secor says. “They’re doing that with bluegrass now, whereas two years ago, we were all singing Ricky Martin tunes. Even though we’re trying to write in the vein of these timeless songs, that’s so hard to do...’cause for the average listener to go from Lila McCann to Charley Patton, they’re not going to understand it. It’s too weird, too unearthly, like going from eating cheese to drinking blood.”

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:55 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
Above article wrote:
Despite the excitement currently surrounding Secor and his twentysomething bandmates—Willie Watson (vocals/guitar), Critter Fuqua (banjo), Morgan Jahnig (upright bass) and Wheatstraw (gitjo, a six-stringed banjo played like a guitar)—OCMS have not lost their street-corner perspective.

Is Kevin's nickname 'Wheatstraw?!'

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:21 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
In tune with the same force: Old Crow Medicine Show has respect for its roots

By Brent Stewart, The Southern

Old-timey Jug Band, Bluegrass, and Folk: 8 p.m., Thursday March 22 [2007]. Shryock Auditorium on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 day of show.

It's been a few years since Old Crow Medicine Show has been to Carbondale, but that doesn't mean they'll have to pull a "Spinal Tap," and write the name of the town on the back of their instruments to remember where they are.

"I've been thinking about (Southern Illinois) ever since, because the place had a cool effect, it had a pull on me," said Ketch Secor, the band's fiddler and one of the vocalists.

"I really love those rivers there. I used to live in St. Louis and I could feel that nearby. I just think there's something about that part of the country that makes you want to sing a tune."

The last time they were here, the band opened for Junior Brown at Mugsy McGuire's. This time around they'll be headlining their own show at Shryock Auditorium, which symbolizes how far the band has come in a relatively short amount of time.

"That was in our wilder days," Secor said jokingly, of the Mugsy's appearance. "I feel like that was when we were just getting in front of a P.A. system."

Secor, along with guitarist Willie Watson; Chris "Critter" Fuqua on vocals, banjo, and slide guitar; Kevin Hayes on the "guitjo," a six string banjo; and Morgan Jahnig on double bass, has seen their audience steadily grow on the heels of two critically acclaimed albums and lots of touring.

"I could not be happier with, over the past few years, creating an audience for a bunch of fiddles and banjos and gitjos," Secor said.

"There wasn't one when we started, though there are a lot of forces that have contributed to it."

Old Crow Medicine Show has been together almost nine years. The members all hail from different areas of the country; Virginia, Texas, New York, and Tennessee, and began playing together while in school.

As far as traditional music goes, the band looked a little bit farther back than bluegrass for the repertoire, to the pre-war jug band music of Cannon's Jug Stompers and the Memphis Jug Band.

"There are so many paths to take through the development of the musical ear," Secor said. "Some of us end up being great jazz players and some of us end up in symphonies, but we're all in tune with the same force."

Like many others, Old Crow Medicine show was taken to the roots by contemporary influences, which is the link in the chain they see themselves as for others.

"For us the actual direction had a lot to with the kind of guys you'd imagine: Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and (quoting Dylan) 'Cisco and Sonny and Leadbelly too.'

"It was run over by Nirvana and Dead Kennedys and Morrissey and jumped ship with the Cure and the Velvet Underground and then there was the Stones. I mean, it's wide open. It's all great music and so much of it is coming from the same place."

Their initial three or four years of touring was based out of eastern Tennessee and North Carolina. During this time they got a major opportunity while they were booked at an amusement park for the summer.

The band had spent a significant amount of time in Nashville playing on the street, and three weeks into the amusement park residency, they received a call from the Grand Old Opry to play outside the legendary venue before their shows on Friday nights.

It was a good beginning of their relationship with the town, which led to their relocation there, but their first real break into the Nashville scene actually came when they were playing in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the Uncle Dave Macon Days Festival.

There, they met Marty Stuart - who would become a big supporter of the band - and won a fiddling contest that gave them the opportunity to play onstage at the Grand Old Opry, where they were first heard by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.

This led, four months later, to the recording of their first album on a record label, "O.C.M.S."

Produced by Rawlings, it featured the song "Wagon Wheel," an interesting "collaboration" with Bob Dylan. Secor had taken a snippet of lyric found in an outtake from Dylan's soundtrack for the film, "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," and fashioned an entire song around it.

"I'm always surprised when I think about the reality of that, getting Bob Dylan to sign off on a song that I had written in high school," he said.

"Those are kind of fabled tales and I'm glad to have a couple to tell. A story like that will be more important when there are no Willie Nelsons or Bob Dylans on Earth, and that day's coming soon. We've lost so many of the great ones."

It's even sadder, Secor explains, because of the direction country music is taking in the wake of these losses.

"I'm sad to see country music get superseded by this bunch of chumps. I just can't deal with it at all," he said.

Fans of traditional music shouldn't get too disheartened, however, because there is some hope.

"There is a fierce independence in Nashville that operates a really healthy and hearty music scene totally separate of the one that is on the checkout stands in Southern Illinois and on your slick radio station," Secor said.

"I personally am a big fan of country music, and even the stuff I have a big distaste for, I still have an appreciation for the power through song and movement through song and also the fact for every bunch of yahoos they let in the door, a few of us kick in the backdoor and raise the roof just a little bit."

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:49 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
From: http://www.projo.com/music/content/projo_20050804_oldcrow.1793b9f0.html

Medicine Show has sure cure for the blues
Thursday, August 4, 2005

Journal Pop Music Writer

The Borders Stage at last year's Newport festival was under a tent without doors, which is a good thing, because the Old Crow Medicine Show would've blown them off.

The quintet plays old-school country music, they play fast and they play hard. Their self-titled debut album from last year has won them plenty of fans, and their performance earned them many more around here.

It was "really exciting," banjo player Ketch Secor said recently. "Because . . . the Newport Folk Festival is a major resource for one to learn about this music, and where it comes from, and what the songs are, and who sings them and who plays them.

"I heard those Newport Broadside albums, and was so changed by hearing the Reverend Gary Davis, and Tom Paxton, and The Freedom Singers, and the great music that came from Newport in the 1960s. What a fantastic resource for a young and developing musician. And out of Rhode Island, of all places!"

Secor spoke at the outset of the band's third tour of England in a year. The first round of shows was as an opening act for David Rawlings and Gillian Welch -- "we were able to capture a lot of their fans and get them excited about our music"; the second tour was a headlining run in small clubs; this time the venues are getting bigger.


"I think that there's a lot of support of Americana music [there]. . . . There's such a longtime relationship between the Brits and American traditional music, from their own versions of it, like skiffle and the Lonnie Donegan stuff -- Leadbelly sold more tickets in London than in his hometown."

Perhaps surprisingly, the country-video giant CMT, which many deride as addicted to slick pop-country, has lent Old Crow some support. "We've made two videos, and they've been showing 'em. Not terribly frequently, but enough that we notice it in the crowd" at shows.

"The Nashville industry thing has been supportive of it. We're not carrying any torches for them, but we look good on film, so it tends to be a good match -- we're friendly dudes, and it's a young and rocking sound. That's what CMT needs. . . . I think that they can recognize that there's some power to this band, in Nashville and within the Nashville music community."

North, South, it doesn't matter

Secor originally hails from St. Louis. The band is from various places, including Haverhill, Mass. (gitjo player Kevin Hayes). But Secor says that geography doesn't matter.

"I actually learned to play the banjo in New Hampshire, and I learned the clawhammer style, which is the Southern way. . . .

"To find the traditional [music], to get to the source, you can go out to the deepest hollow and maybe find somebody. We moved to the Carolinas for that purpose, and that was really cool. But usually you find that more modern music has taken hold in the South, and radio and TV have had such a big influence.

"This band came together in Ithaca, New York. And Ithaca had more old-time music in it than anywhere I've played in the South. Kids in Ithaca can grow up thinking that the fiddle is like the electric guitar, or that the clawhammer banjo is cool. But that's because so many players who went down into the South in the '60s and '70s came back up to Ithaca, among other places, and preserved some authentic traditional music sounds."

Old Crow's compelling stage show, fun and relaxed without being spectacular or distracting, came from the years they spent busking (playing for change) on the streets of Nashville and assorted tour stops.

"We sure laid into that real hard, and that was our sole source of income for a while."

While they don't so it much anymore, Secor says, it's in their DNA.

"I think that we'll always be connected to street performance, whether it's actually still happening or not. Because it's very much at the root of what the band is. . . . We've entertained groups of people all over this continent, and you learn so much about holding a crowd, you learn so much about what it is to be a performer when you're out on the street."

So what did busking teach them?

"The first thing is that you have to be the loudest thing out there. And that's not necessarily in terms of audio. But there's so much that can catch one's attention when they're walking . . . But you have to be the one distraction that makes them stop. . . .

"Then you've gotta get 'em to feel exuberance and joy. But this music is so focused on those emotions, and draws those emotions out of people -- and always has, because it's a very old musical form, so that's kind of the easy part."

Honed skills as opening act

Those skills came in particularly handy when Old Crow spent years as an opening act for such performers as Junior Brown and Robert Earl Keen.

"[Those audiences] don't even want an opening band. They want you to get off. But you have to make them feel that they came there to see you. . . .

"So you apply that to a club level -- they're not there to see you and they've never heard of you. But suddenly, they are there to see you, and they're so excited to see you, and they've been waiting a long time to see you."

The same principle applied to last year's Newport show. "We shook it up when we were down in Newport last year. That's what you have to do when you're on a small stage, and they give you your spots and you're not sure whether anyone's going to show up, so you gotta play real hard and sing real loud.

"But evidently it worked, because the people who saw us play were really turned on."

The Old Crow Medicine Show plays at this year's Dunkin' Donuts Newport Folk Festival on Sunday.

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 7:00 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
From: http://cornellsun.com/index.php?q=node/18801

A Night of Old Tunes and Memories
Daze sings along with Old Crow Medicine Show
October 5, 2006

By Jake Seligman
There was an unusually excited buzz swirling inside the State Theater on Saturday night. It was 8:15 and most of the seats were still empty as Ithacans raced around the hall with an energy that the laidback community doesn’t seem to exhibit on most occasions.

However, the return of Old Crow Medicine Show wasn’t most occasions; it was a triumphant homecoming for a band that cut its teeth on Ithaca’s streets. If you’d been roaming the commons some eight or nine years ago, you might have come across Old Crow Medicine Show playing its unique blend of bluegrass, jug, country, folk and blues for passers-by. Or, if you’d been at Grassroots, Ithaca’s local music festival, in the summers of 2002 and 2003, you would have seen the band led by frontman Willie Watson of Watkins Glen.

As showtime approached, more and more people piled into the State Theatre, and the buzz grew as locals shared their recollections of Old Crow’s humble beginnings. It seemed like everyone in the crowd knew one another, and were not only welcoming back a band who’d been away for some time, but were also welcoming back one another to a familiar place.

A jolly friend of mine bounced into the row in front of me and, overwhelmed with excitement, held up her shaky wineglass, declaring, “This is going to be a great show. All the cool people are here!” Before I could respond, she was back up the isle, bouncing from person to person, exchanging greetings with familiar friends. My friend’s pronouncement lingered with me, and later I realized it had summed up perfectly the pre-show vibe.

As the lights went down at 8:25, all the seats were filled.

With so much hype, it would have been very easy for OCMS to disappoint; but from their first note, Willie Watson, Ketch Secor, Critter Fuqua, Kevin Hayes and Morgan Jahnig did anything but.

The band’s style defied classification, mixing blues from the Delta, bluegrass from the hills, jug from Southern porches and country from the flatlands into a sound that broke from all regions and forms to become something distinctly American. Many critics call Old Crow’s music Americana, and while that may be a convenient title, the sound encompasses so much from so many places that a name doesn’t do it justice.

In its instrumentation — guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, guitjo (guitar/banjo combination), upright bass — OCMS tapped into the river of tradition fed by the likes of Bill Monroe, the Memphis Jug Band, Jimmie Rodgers and the turn of the century traveling minstrel shows (from which the band takes its name). Its vocals, however, brought the band into the contemporary.

Watson’s high wail on songs like “Down Home Girl” and Secor’s sweet chorus on “Raise a Ruckus” were reminders of how young these guys really are. Led by such youthful voices, OCMS lacked much of the dirty sound that defines the music traditions the band has grown out of. That’s not to say that their sound is polished; rather, it is music of its time and not a carbon copy of the past.

Take the band’s rendition of “Cocaine Habit,” for example. Old Crow’s version lacked much of the pain and crudeness of Jenny Mae Clayton and the Memphis Jug Band’s original, but added a playfulness and youth that the song never had before. The band also added references to such contemporary figures as Karl Rove and Elijah Wood . With a number of other old standards as well as brand new songs off 2006’s Big Iron World, the band took the Ithaca audience on a journey through the American songbook that stretched all the way to the present.

After the long set break in which the band members shared drinks with old friends, Old Crow opened its second half with a roar. The crowd danced and sang along, and the concert took on a barnstorm feel.

During inter-song tuning, which happened often, Secor regaled the crowd with memories of Ithaca: sleeping on couches, getting evicted, living in the Wegman’s parking lot and learning from local music-scene staple Richie Stearns, who joined the band on banjo for their final songs as well as part of the encore.

Stearns fit right in with the down home, community feel of the show, but the same can’t be said for the petite Indian man he brought on stage to wail through a very emotional song about the Iraq War. As out of place as the man was, the Ithaca crowd greeted him with cheers at every chorus. Old Crow seemed surprised by Stearns’ sidekick, but played on, and in doing so, pushed the boundaries of their distinctly American music to a place I’m not sure they wanted to venture to.

Nonetheless, while the odd mixture’s sound was not particularly pleasing, the Ithaca community welcomed it like they welcomed Old Crow Medicine Show itself: with open arms. When the band finished its encore and the lights came on, the audience cheered still. In no rush to leave, Ithacans meandered back to their coats scattered about the theater and filed out, happy to have had some old friends back in town for the night.

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:37 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427

Old Crow Medicine Pickin' Across Georgia

Issue date: 10/11/05

When you see Old Crow Medicine Show perform live you are drawn to a lively bluegrass group that attacks the stage like a pack of wild animals and conveys dynamic energy to their audience.

Armed with a slew of new tunes for a record to be released in the spring, Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) is crossing the south on their latest tour, and they are damn determined to become a bluegrass staple in Georgia. So determined that the band is playing four shows in the state over 12 days.

"We're playing the hell out of Georgia this fall," said Ketch Secor, who plays fiddle, harmonica, banjo and sings in the group, which also features Willie Watson, Critter Fuqua, Kevin Hayes and Morgan Jahnig. "We're playing Macon, Augusta and Athens and then in Atlanta, so by the end of the month we should see a renewed and expanded interest in OCMS in the Peachtree State."

Three Georgia shows have come and passed as the band has blazed a trail of folk fury across the state, but the tour de Georgia culminates when OCMS plays the fabulous Fox Theatre with Nickel Creek on Oct. 14.

"We've never played the Fox and are really looking forward to being there, as well as playing with Nickel Creek," said Secor.

With two bands boasting complimentary folk styles, the Fox show should be an intriguing one; OCMS hosts ruckus energetic performances with Secor singing country croon as Watson's voice cuts like a knife, while Nickel Creek plays a more mild variety of traditional music with beautiful vocal harmonies, accentuated by Sarah Watkins's sultry voice.

That show at the historic Fox Theatre will be quite a venue change for a group whose origin is founded in busking – performing on street corners for anyone willing to listen and spare some change.

We used to really hobo it," explained Secor. "We had nowhere to stay and it wasn't really pre-planned. It was just us in Canada with some old cars and all of our junky instruments just unloading in some downtown in some town where there are some pedestrians moving around and playing for change and making so much that we were feeling really good and having great experiences being abroad."

The band members met in Ithaca, New York, a hot bed for folk music since the 1970s, but they decided Canada would be the best host for busking.

"Our first tour was a Canadian tour, because that's where we thought this would go over the best," added Secor. "We could have come down to Georgia with our tunes from Ithaca when we first got started, but we were really trying to busk. Trying to play in the streets.

"There is something about in the streets of Canada – it was just so right. And of course, the thing that really helps is the coinage in Canada makes it very pro-busker because you don't have paper dollars, but everybody has loonies and toonies and people throw their change. In the US you give maybe a quarter to a bum, but in Canada they throw dollars at bums. I don't think the Americans would have been nearly as kind to us in that situation when those first couple of months were so critical to our surviving. It was a big help for a couple of bums like us. "

The band found a stroke of luck in Boone, N.C. when a bluegrass legend found OCMS busking in front of a local restaurant.

"The whole band went down there because we figured it being the day after the Fourth of July it would be pretty rocking," said Secor. "We were having a good time when a woman came up and said, 'Boy, that sounds so good. I sure love that old-timey music. My dad sure loves this music. I'm going to go get him. You think you'll still be playing here in an hour?'

The band said perhaps and didn't think much of the woman after she meandered away without tipping, but they were thrilled when an American folk music legend, Doc Watson, returned with her an hour later.

"This was Nancy Watson, which we didn't know when she came up to us the first time, explained Secor. "We played a few tunes for Doc and then he offered us a gig at MerleFest. Doc said, 'I've got this little festival I run in honor of my son Merle, and your music reminds me of Merle an awful lot, and I would like you to play there.'

Since that MerleFest show OCMS has traversed the country. This year the band has played the famous Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the diverse Bonnaroo Music Festival. At those festivals the band introduced each other in an unusual, yet humorous manor –as retired baseball legends – a practice that was continued at the OCMS' show in Athens. The 'team' introduced themselves as 1980s Braves stars, including Dale Murphy and Rafael Ramirez.

"I'm a big baseball fan for sure," Secor explained. "I don't know why we started doing it. It was just kind of funny and we always pick out baseball names from my childhood, because that's when the whole baseball reverence happened to me. I guess you could say there is something about old heroes that always makes them worth conjuring up."

But his legends also include the pioneers of American music, individuals that blended diverse music styles and inspired Secor.

"I think everything comes from an appreciation of the foundation of roots music in America," said Secor. "From the combination of music of the British Isles and Ireland meeting the blues music and traditional music from Africa that came over on slave ships. Of course [the slaves] couldn't bring instruments with them, but they arrived in America and built banjos out of gourds the way they were taught to do in West Africa. And then suddenly this whole new language began. Everybody's black, everybody's white. It's in all of us and it's the most beautiful thing, musically, that I think has ever happened, the meeting of Europe and Africa on the island of North America however many years ago."

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:09 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
From: http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/~citypaper/news.php?viewStory=30690

Old Crow Medicine Show mixes it up
By Ron Wynn, rwynn@nashvillecitypaper.com

While it wouldn't be wholly inaccurate to call the Old Crow Medicine Show a revivalist, retro or old-timey band, it also doesn't scratch the surface of the group's music. For while they certainly do vintage folk, mountain music and country blues songs, they're also just as likely to do a red-hot contemporary country song, adapt a rock number or pen an original with a traditional melody and modern arrangement. Indeed, Old Crow Medicine Show, which is performing tonight and Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry - with an additional performance Saturday at Tower Records - blurs, mixes and matches genres with ease on their new release O.C.M.S. (Nettwerk). "We've never considered ourselves a band only interested in traditional music," said harmonica soloist, fiddler and vocalist Ketch Secor. "We're all trying to make some sense of this amalgam of influences known as American music. All of us have grown up with rock, commercials on television, and we also love a host of different styles. What we do is try to bring all this together into our group." Old Crow Medicine Show relocated to Nashville in 2001, and the group made several weekly appearances at the Opry Plaza. Later that year they made their Grand Ole Opry debut on the Ryman Auditorium stage, and in 2002 made their national television debut on Grand Ole Opry Live when it was still being carried on Country Music Television (CMT). The group has also opened for Dolly Parton and the Del McCoury Band, toured with Marty Stuart and Merle Haggard, and appeared on both National Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion and at the jam festival Bonnaroo. The group's new record is what Secor calls "our first real record where we had a boss." Producer David Rawlings, better known as the duet partner for the esteemed country/folk vocalist Gillian Welch, guides the group through its usual eclectic array that includes a fine cover of Bob Dylan's "Wagon Wheel," stylistically adventurous remakes of traditional tunes like "CC Rider" and "Tell It To Me," plus several group originals such as "Big Time In The Jungle" and "Trials & Troubles." Secor, guitarist/vocalist Willie Watson, vocalist, slide guitarist and banjo player Critter Fuqua, bassist Morgan Jahnig and guitjo (a guitar-like instrument from the '20s) player Kevin Hayes play a joyous, infectious style that neatly intersperses fiddle breakdowns, jug band and blues elements as well as country and folk influences. "David really got us right to the heart in the studio," Secor added. "He knew what he wanted and he helped us make a great record." The album was also recorded at RCA's legendary Studio B and Woodland Sound Studios. Others who made albums at Studio B include Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton, while the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's monumental Will The Circle Be Unbroken was done at Woodland in 1972. "We could feel the energy while we were making the record," Secor said. "You can't work in those places without being affected. We've made other records before, but I think this one really gets to the essence and core of our music."

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:30 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2003



Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:40 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
HSB 2004

From: http://www.geocities.com/ron8318/strictly_bluegrass.htm#2004 (where more photos can be found.)

Old Crow Medicine Show is an old-time string band with a rock attitude. They are tight with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and have been touring with them on a regular basis. After I left the festival, I went out to see friends in the Chico/Paradise area. I caught another show there with Gillian, David and Old Crow at Chico State. It’s fun and sometimes raucous music that definitely gets your hands and feet tapping. All of the Old Crow photos were taken by my friend Craig Williams.

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:13 pm Reply with quote
*Irish Stew* Joined: 03 Oct 2007 Posts: 3666 Location: Joe's Cornfield
Critter was much taller then Shocked

nice find, kg
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 5:53 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427

Eutaw (self-released) The saying goes, at some point, everything old becomes new again. Such would be the case with the renewed interest, primarily sparked by the "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack, in "old time" roots music- bluegrass, folk, gospel and blues. An authentic and uncomplicated music, using simple, traditional, mostly acoustic instruments, a music rich and deeply rooted in American heritage.

However, a few years before the success O Brother had in bringing this music to the forefront, there was The Old Crow Medicine Show, a group of six guys that hail from places as diverse as New Mexico, upstate New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts. They formed in 1998, and headed west, taking their show on the road in a former funeral home limousine. They perform in the tradition of 19th century medicine and minstrel shows, playing music of days gone by- the old time sounds of string and jug bands.

After a few months on the road found them in western Canada, the boys packed up and headed for the Blue Ridge Mountains, the home of string music. There, they learned the old ways of farming and making music. They raised a sheep named Daisy and a pig named Jasmine, but more importantly, started playing with, and learning from, some of the finest of the old-time musicians still around. They also learned to make their own instruments. A couple of years later, the boys left the mountains and headed for Nashville- causing quite a stir, and knocking Nashville on it's butt with sounds completely foreign there, particularly in this age of cookie cutter, commercialized, and over-homogenized music that's been coming out of Music Row these days.

Their first appearance at the Opry in 2001, garnered them a wild standing ovation. They appeared weekly at Opryland that summer, and took part in the Opry's 75th anniversary. They opened for Dolly Parton at the Ryman for a taping of a CBS special. They recorded the soundtrack to, and appeared in, a documentary on the Renfro Valley Barndance, the country's second oldest radio show, and also appeared in a documentary produced by Marty Stuart on the history of country music.

Who is The Old Crow Medicine Show? Ketchum Secor (Lead baritone vocals, fiddle, french harp, banjo), Willie Watson (Lead tenor vocals, guitar, kazoo), Critter Fugua (Vocals, banjo, button accordion, slide guitar), Ben Gould (Upright doghouse bull fiddle), Clarence "Cap" Fillgree (Vocals, guit-jo, guitar) and Matt Kinman (mandolin, bones, fiddle, banjo).

What is The Old Crow Medicine Show? A band that dresses like depression era farmers. They cull their songs from old, long forgotten 78's and "ancient fiddle players." They play their music in the old acoustic string band tradition. Along with more traditional instruments, they'll often toss in a bit of washboard, bones, kazoo or whatever else they might find laying around.

However, don't let this fool you. The Old Crow Medicine Show is not just another retro-old time band, simply replicating old-time music. This band is tight, they play together like precision clockwork, with each member having an integral part to play. Their harmonies are ragged, primitive, and imperfect- to glorious perfection, in the same way as those of the Fruit Jar Drinkers. They may gather their songs from long forgotten old records, but don't think they merely try to duplicate the sound. These boys grew up with many different influences, and you can hear them all in their music- from Uncle Dave Macon and Jimmie Rodgers to smatterings of Jerry Garcia, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. While their music sounds like it was transported from another time, they play it with the ferocity, fun and abandonment of punk, making the music sound urgent and relevant. They mix the sounds of the old-time Appalachian string bands with bluegrass, traditional folk, gospel, African-American jug bands and the early haunting balladeers, and infuse them with the energy of the early Opry stars.

Their latest release Eutaw, is named for Eutaw, Alabama, where the boys had broken down returning from a show. According to Ketch Secor, it was a strange experience, where they slept in a pine bog behind a greyhound track, but a place where they ultimately found "...some resilience. And peace. And some end to human suffering. And some catfish."

Eutaw contains 12 tracks of the most traditional kind of folk music, that ranges from "Raise A Ruckus" knee slapping, toe tappers to mournful ballads (such as "The Silver Dagger", a story of young star crossed lovers, a la Romeo & Juliet). Of the 12 tracks, all but one are long lost treasures. "Trouble That I'm In" is the lone song that was penned by the band, and I would challenge anyone to pop this one into the CD without looking at the track listing, and pick out which is the self-penned song- that's how seamlessly and effortlessly it fits in. To add to the "old-timey" feel of the CD, it was recorded live in the studio.

On Eutaw, they also touch on early Memphis sounds, which later birthed the blues, in songs like "Lonesome Road Blues", "Down South Blues" and "Cocaine Habit."

For those that have just discovered American roots music in it's purest, and sometimes rawest form, through the O Brother soundtrack, and are ready to take the next step, The Old Crow Medicine Show would make an excellent one.

For those who've already long appreciated these unadorned and honest sounds through the music of such artists as Uncle Dave Macon, The Fruit Jar Drinkers or Ralph Stanley- The Old Crow Medicine Show is just what the doctor ordered.

I've listened to Eutaw dozens of times- and somehow, just can't seem to keep that old foot of mine from tapping...

AnnMarie Harrington Take Country Back April 2002

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:36 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427

Nettwerk America (EMI) 07243 59823522

To say that a certain six million-selling soundtrack album of some three years standing has opened the door for such ongoing research and development as displayed by OCMS would be stating the obvious; but in their case they're hardly novices, starting off a while back, busking and now ending up in Nashville in company of producer David Rawlings on a major label deal. With origins in an Appalachian string band ethic, these young upstarts from four different States met up in New York, roamed around in a beat-up bus and eventually came to the attention of Doc Watson no less, whilst playing outside a pharmacy in Boone, North Carolina. Rags to riches, eh? - you'd be right. Merlefest, the Grand Ole Opry, opening for Dolly Parton and Del McCoury led to this debut album. Not bad for an organic music band adhering to a pre-War era, good-time/jug band sound that will hit the spot for those seeking something redolent of the Lovin' Spoonful crossed with a Stray Cats sensibility.

However there are no dreary 'Americana-by-numbers' clichús here. Sure, you'll find plenty of C.C. Rider and Tear It Down but these thrusters are on a successful mission to recapture and tweak their traditional country and blues influences while adding some redemptive, unflinching material of their own, as Critter Fuqua's Vietnam song Big Time In The Jungle demonstrates. With fiddle, upright bass, guitjo (oh, yes!) and raw spirit in abundance, the acoustic provenance is low-key but by no means lo-fi. Rambunctious songs about shared trials and troubles, hard booze and equally hard women have a sparky, boundless energy and 'relentlessly buoyant' would not be an overstatement. This recording will certainly make your life a better place.

Clive Pownceby - April 2004

[And comments below:]

Just to hear this music is so adicting, but to see these talented "Magicians" live is an awesome treat! If they were in my area every week you would know where to find me. I love Bill Monroe and all music of nearly any kind, but this is music you just cannot get uot of your head. I have freinds I have tried to convert to bluegrass for many years with no sucess until O.C.M.S. came along. Be careful if you buy this C.D. You will not be able to listen to any thing else for, well I don't how long, it's only been out since the first of 2004. I'll let you know how long.
Tim Lingerfelt, Davidson, N.C

I saw this group at the Sheffield University in November'04 which was my intro' to Bluegrass/Cajun music.I have never seen five musicians work so hard with such natural talent. Can't get enough of them!
Bill Darrington, SHEFFIELD U.K.

OCMS,and the album of the same name are simply brilliant,cannot wait for their new album to be released.
david massingberd, stockton-on-tees

I am an elderly (old) man, but have just been introduced to OCMS. Love it - BUT - wish I could hear all the words, because they sound as if they are saying something significant and I can't make it all out. Please re-mix with voices a little 'to the front'.
Reg Clifford, U.K.

I first heard of OCMS from my son, who first saw them at Bonnaroo and fell in love with them. He said "You've just got to hear this music". You know, he's right, it's addictive. I saw them in Dickson Tennessee at the Americana Folk Fest last week and had the opportunity to meet Ketch, who is an extremely talented musician as well as a great guy. These young men have a great future ahead.
Kathy Melton, Parsons, Tennessee

Ocms is the best cd i have ever bought i plan on soon getting 'Eutaw". I hear it's just as good and addictive. I would also love to see one of their shows.
Scotty Ennis, Eastern Shore of Maryland

great band, lots of energy. make sure to check out "greetings from wawa" and "eutaw".
wes bunch, johnson city, tennessee

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:29 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
From all the way back in 2000.


Pick of the litter
Zone one show reanimates nature, spoofs artifice
by Mark Goldstein in Vol. 6 / Iss. 36 on 04/19/2000

Before I interviewed Old Crow Medicine Show vocalist/fiddler Ketch "Hawkster" Secor, I was assailed by an interesting rumor. It went something like this: "There's a lot of posers out there in music land, but these boys sound like the real thing."

And while I pride myself on my ability to spot a phony, I'm not a native of these hills, so I wondered, would I know the difference?

First, I weighed the facts. Doc Watson, the world's unchallenged flatpicking king, calls the band's music " ... some of the most authentic old-time music I've heard in a long time" -- no idle flattery, it would seem (the band was recently booked for Merlefest). And then, the group's home base also murmured authenticity: band members dwell on the Tennessee side of Beech Mountain, N.C. -- a damn good place to be, if you're into mountain music.

On the other hand, the band's debut, self-distributed CD, Greetings from Wawa, includes radio clips recorded in Canada. And the contradictions play on. Band members met through stints in migratory farmwork (specifically, grape-picking), but they play as if they'd all grown up in the same remote mountain cabin. They didn't: Doghouse bass player "Senator" Ben Gould makes banjos and gets around in a 40-dollar car -- but he's the son of a New York lawman. And Gould's buddy Willie Watson sings and plays a rowdy guitar, banjo and fiddle -- but claims no relation to Doc and is as big a fan of Bruce Springsteen as of any country peformer. Vocalist Kevin "Kirby" Hayes hails from Boston, but honed his musical skills on streetcorners all over America before settling in Appalachia. Chris "Critter" Fuqua helps with vocals and plays a mean banjo and slide guitar, but he learned to be a Tejano accordionist while passing time in San Antonio, and reportedly also plays the bagpipes!

Many of the band's tunes are interpretations of traditional songs -- i.e. "Cumberland Gap," "Kitty Clyde," "Gospel Plow" and "Oh, My Little Darling" -- replete with the mournful howls, good-ol'-boy rejoinders and rollicking arrangements that characterize the genre. Yet, these guys play with an abandon and grit that are truly their own. What drives that level of feeling is a subtler force: At times, it's hard to tell if the band stands as a true homage to string music, or if the boys are aping the form just to prove that they can.

The first time I talked to Secor, he had just finished digging post holes, had a beer in his hand, and very politely informed me that he probably couldn't schedule an interview, because he was about to hitchhike to Ohio to see his sister. This sure sounded like an authentic mountain-music player to me (though Secor hails from Missouri). When he called back a couple of days later -- from an outdoor phone nook in Harold, Ky., during a driving Floyd County rainstorm -- the fiddler shed some more light on the subject of the band's raison d'etre. (I asked him first if he was afraid of getting shot or beaten up while hitching cross-country; his reply, like the rest of his story, evinced a good dose of latter-day Beat junkie and Gen-Xer tempering this bluegrass boy: "Well, that's the whole principle of the Medicine Show ... you put your trust in the medicine, and you don't get beat up.")

Secor places the same faith in the band's relationship with its live audiences: "Well, you know, music comes out of a little box in somebody's car, or a little box in somebody's house. So rarely does it come out of the interaction that people have with other people. And so rarely do people know that you can have music free all the time: You just have to pick up your hitchhikers, or go to your local VFW, or walk on the streetcorners and just see that it's still going on, in the same form that it has always been before it got bought by RCA and Sony and all that s•••. We're trying to keep a good hand on the importance of music for the country."

The musician bristles when people mistakenly lump Old Crow Medicine Show's sound in with contemporary bluegrass: "String-band music has been around since slavery started coming to this country, because that's how you got the banjo here," he says. "It wasn't until 1900 that you ever really saw string-band music in the commercial sense, and the styles were just evolving really quickly then. A fella named Charlie Poole [who played with his own three-finger banjo technique] totally revamped how to play the banjo. And then following after that is a whole lot of other people. ... They mostly credit it to Earl Scruggs, but bluegrass was a long time in the making, long before Earl Scruggs. ... We just tend to stick to the older, more traditional stuff, because it's got ... the same qualities of all other music, it just does it in such a raw, untainted way. It's like playing punk rock. ... music really needs to hit people real directly."

In its liner notes, the band predictably thanks such acoustic influences as blues singer Mance Lipscomb and banjoist Dock Boggs -- but Kurt Cobain also gets his due.

"The only thing you could get that was real in the early 1990s, if you were growing up in middle-class America listening to the radio, was Nirvana," Secor proclaims. "They had this authenticity to them. ... everything else was like Janet Jackson and Madonna on the radio, but Kurt Cobain and those three fellas in Nirvana really had an impact on all of us, just to show us that you could be at this big level in music and you could still play really, really authentically." Interestingly, Secor's other influences include Janet's brother Michael, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and even old-school-college-punk darlings The Dead Milkmen.

"I've never been interested in being in a strictly traditional old-time string band that plays only festivals and always credits the tune properly to what old dead man wrote it or what old dead man you learned it from," he muses. "It's the process of making something, and it's not always about the product. Sometimes it's nice to sound like an old '78, and other times it's nice to sound like you're breaking old '78s."

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:55 pm Reply with quote
Tearin' it Down Joined: 30 Sep 2007 Posts: 159 Location: Boulder City, NV
That's one of the best ones I've read yet K.G.! Good on ya for your constant research.

" We're still passionate about what we do, and it's still a thrill to play. I'm glad that we've done it on our own, beholden to nobody else but greatly in debt to many - most of whom are musicians who have helped move us along."-Ketch Secor
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:10 am Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427

Old Crow Medicine Show
Monday, August 22, at the Bottleneck.
By Jason Harper
Published: August 18, 2005

Legend has it that mountain-music revivalist band Old Crow Medicine Show was discovered by Doc Watson while playing in front of a pharmacy in North Carolina. Now, back when the music OCMS plays was considered popular, pharmacies used to sell narcotics like opium and cocaine over the counter. Moreover, considering that the first song on the band's self-titled debut, "Tell It to Me," is a porch-stomping, holler-blues ditty about the seductive and destructive power of angel dust, well, what else can we conclude except that Watson is also a mad scientist who traveled back in time in search of cheap, legal coke and ended up bringing Old Crow Medicine Show back with him? Granted, Old Crow may dress somewhat modern, but this string-plucking outfit makes Split Lip Rayfield sound like the Kronos Quartet. Old Crow's fiddle, guitar, double bass, double banjo and double nasal bluegrass wailin' ought to make the group instantly welcome here in the Midwest. Just don't start asking the members about fantasy football or iPods or any of that new-fangled nonsense. Chances are, they'll look at you funny and go back to polishing that 1929 Gibson G-B1 guitjo of theirs.

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:37 am Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
GumboStu wrote:
Critter was much taller then Shocked

That's because he morphed into Dave Rawlings. That pic is from '04 I assume?
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:38 am Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
I guess I'll put some links to older photos here, too.


These are from a 2005 show in Bloomington, IN.

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:51 am Reply with quote
*Mrs. Kitty* Joined: 23 Oct 2006 Posts: 2344 Location: Durham, NC
kg wrote:
From all the way back in 2000.


Pick of the litter
Zone one show reanimates nature, spoofs artifice
by Mark Goldstein in Vol. 6 / Iss. 36 on 04/19/2000

Aaahhhh - - - this one mentions ol' Benny!!! Ladies, you think the boys are lookers now... well, you should have seen Benny! The worn duct tape on his fingers was so sexy!!

KG - you never cease to amaze. That article from
Old Crow Medicine Show
Monday, August 22, at the Bottleneck.
By Jason Harper
Published: August 18, 2005
That is from The Pitch... and Kansas City/Lawrence (Kansas) indy paper. Just in case anyone is keeping tabs....
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 12:03 pm Reply with quote
*Irish Stew* Joined: 03 Oct 2007 Posts: 3666 Location: Joe's Cornfield
pittsyltucky wrote:
GumboStu wrote:
Critter was much taller then Shocked

That's because he morphed into Dave Rawlings. That pic is from '04 I assume?

D'oh! i see it now. The sideburns were confusing me Laughing
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 1:11 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Hey Kitty -- here's one from the ooooooooold days when you were seein' 'em. ketch and benny -- with will in the background.

It's one of Aaron Farrington's photos -- by all means check out his stuff -- i'd like to get up with him one day in C-ville and see all of his stuff. He did this really great slideshow of Hackensaw photos on a screen above them one night up in C-ville. Great stuff from living on the road with them -- and then there was this one black and white he slipped into the mix of "Old Crows Making Whisky". I'm buying a print of that and getting it framed up nice as a Christmas present to myself this year.
And no, Kitty -- no one was keeping tabs on Lawrence... in fact, I think Lawrence is long overdue for a cross-border raid.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 1:38 pm Reply with quote
Charlie Joined: 28 Oct 2004 Posts: 895 Location: Stankonia, GA
It looks like Willie in the background behind Ketch. Who is to the right? Is that Kinman or possibly Gould?

When you wake up you're all weak
Throwing your life away
Someday, sorry coming home
Sorry snail
Down in my heart
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 1:41 pm Reply with quote
*Data Miner* Joined: 30 Jun 2007 Posts: 3427
I assume this is Ben's current band: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=84310774

Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. --Phil Ochs
View user's profile Send private message
Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 2:50 pm Reply with quote
*Johnny* Joined: 15 Sep 2006 Posts: 4268 Location: Pigg River District, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
gwrap wrote:
It looks like Willie in the background behind Ketch. Who is to the right? Is that Kinman or possibly Gould?

good ol' gwrap ---- poor guy's short-term is BLOWN.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Display posts from previous:  

All times are GMT - 6 Hours
Page 1 of 3
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Post new topic

Jump to:  

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum