Old Crow Medicine Show is Tomorrow Night!


Old Crow Medicine Show: Old-time music for a new age
By Dan Kane

At first listen, Old Crow Medicine Show could be one of those backwoods combos that would sometimes venture out of the sticks near Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Heck, there’s even a guy named Critter.

The five-piece acoustic band includes fiddle, harmonica, banjo, guitar and upright bass, and lots of close vocal harmonies. Words like alt-country, Americana and bluegrass are routinely used to describe Old Crow’s sound, but band member Ketch Secor prefers “old-time music.”

For all the band’s vintage trappings, there’s an energy and attitude that is borderline punk rock. And Old Crow’s lyrics, often tongue-in-cheek, regularly celebrate extreme living.

A song titled “Humdinger” on the latest Old Crow album, “Tennessee Pusher,” includes this colorful verse: “Naked horseshoes without care, body surfing on a river of beer, all the neighbors are saying their prayers, we’ll lift our glasses high in the air.”

Old Crow Medicine Show will appear in concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Kent Stage as part of the 43rd Kent State Folk Festival. Tickets, $30, are available at www.kentstage.org.

Secor, who sings and plays fiddle, harmonica and banjo, talked about the band in a recent telephone interview from his Nashville home.

Q. How does your live show compare to your records?
A. The live show is real high-energy, and we put a lot of passion into what we do. Acoustic music sounds best on the stage, and there’s a whole visual component to delivering it. It’s a very physical event playing violin the way I play it. Playing banjo the old-time way means you have to beat on it. When you play this kind of music, you’ve got a whole wave of history you’re dragging onstage with you.

Q. Your music sounds very traditional, but then there are these lyrics about meth, coke, weed and assorted wildness. I imagine that surprises some people.
A. There were some festivals we played when we were coming up where there were some great conservative elements and a lot of gospel music, and we sort of learned to tailor our show for those venues. But, you know, there’s always been a mischievous element to this kind of music. They called it the devil’s music for good reason. That song, “Cocaine Habit,” that we do is 85 years old. People like us because we’re outside the box — and you can sing along to it.

Q. The lyrics of your songs are terrific, so vivid and often funny.
A. Thank you. We learned a lot about songwriting from Gillian Welch, who has an uncanny knack for storytelling. The thing is, you’ve just got to keep writing songs, even though the great ones might have all been written.

[From Old Crow Medicine Show: Old-time music for a new age - Canton, OH - CantonRep.com]

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