Old Crow Medicine Show
Sun. Feb. 11
$20 ($18 adv.)
32 Ann St.
Last Thursday, the Old Crow Medicine Show sold their Chevy Suburban on eBay for $3,550. The five-piece jug-style band out of Nashville — Willie Watson (guitars/vocals), Ketch Secor (fiddles/harps/vocals), Critter Fuqua (banjo/vocals), Kevin Hayes (guitjo), and Morgan Jahnig (upright bass) — recently upgraded vehicles after years of touring and building a name. Singing about cocaine, women, and the Lord, they’ve even become staple guests on the Prairie Home Companion radio show.
They come to the Music Farm this Sunday in support of their solid sophomore effort, Big Iron World, an album that features Gillian Welch on drums with production from her husband, David Rawlings. Like the members themselves, it’s a product of the 2000s with roots that span centuries and a vocal delivery that insists they believe every word they say.
The last time Old Crow played Charleston, they opened for Robert Earl Keen at the Farm. “We had a wild night, as I recall,” says fiddle/harp player Secor. “We went rambling around at 4 a.m. in those tough neighborhoods, getting all drunk, drinking that Mickey’s, you know, that Mickey’s liquor, and then going on out to Folly Beach in the morning. And we slept out there actually.”
Debauched energy seems to flow through the band. Secor tells a story of the fifth of July years ago, when they were working on a construction crew and busking on the side. “We had made a big batch of corn liquor on the fourth of July, and we woke up in the morning ready to keep it rocking, so we went downtown to Boone to busk,” he says. “This lady came up and said, ‘Boy, that sounds so good. Will you be here for awhile? My dad loves this kind of music.'”
Her father, who she soon reappeared with, was Doc Watson. He listened, they all shook hands, and he gave them a gig at Merlefest in N.C. on the spot.
“Doc had played on that very same side of the street 50 years before,” says Secor. “It had a kind of reciprocal effect.” Today Old Crow can sell out venues like Nashville’s Ryman Theater, but they still regularly busk. “I like the way it makes you feel to play on the street corner,” says Secor. “It’ll teach you things.”
Bob Dylan’s influence shows strongly in such tunes as “Wagonwheel” and “I Hear Them All,” both of which have become OCMS crowd-pleasers. “Dylan was the influence,” says Secor. “He was the linchpin. I heard him and I just wanted to know what made him do that, so I listened five years behind him, and 10 years behind him, and 20 years behind him until I figured out where he got it, and then I kind of didn’t need to listen to Bob anymore.”
When asked what musician from the past he’d most like to hear play, Secor, who “spent his formative couple of years in Aiken,” answers Chris Bouchillion of Yemassee, S.C. “He’s the father of the talking blues. He’d give these long winded oratory stories, and sing songs about women getting jobs, women driving cars, songs about going to the grocery store. It’s like looking at a photo album of Yemassee in 1924.”
“There’s just so many dead guys that I would have liked to see play,” says Secor. The whole band shares his passion for the traditional music “heroes” of the American South. “We wanted to cloak ourselves with their costuming, put on the black faces, and go out in the street and dance.”
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