AmericanA to Z: Old Crow Medicine Show

I was privileged to see Old Crow Medicine Show as an unknown emerging band in the UK, when they stole the show at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2004. I caught them at the Mojo press tent, doing a busking set, at that time they weren’t on the festival bill, their high energy set drew an enthusiastic crowd, and they went down a storm.

Their confident stage show came from their roots as a busking band , starting to play together in New York state in 1998, their breakthrough coming when they caught the attention of Doc Watson playing on the street in Boone, North Carolina. He invited the band to play at his festival MerleFest, leading to performances at the Grand Ole Opry, entertaining audiences between shows.

These performances led to a tie-up with Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Rawlings producing their 2004 album ‘O.C.M.S.‘, and it was this link that brought them to Cambridge, where Welch and Rawlings were appearing.

A fairy tale story unfolded from the impromptu appearance, they went on to play the Club Tent, again gathering much attention, and were then catapulted to a main stage appearance, when the scheduled act were delayed, where they played to huge acclaim–a meteoric rise which launched their UK touring career.

OCMS are one of those bands whose best-known song is perhaps better known than the band themselves. ‘Wagon Wheel‘, which closes their Rawlings produced second studio album, is credited jointly to frontman Ketch Secor, and Bob Dylan, the song being based in part on an early song by Dylan, from a bootleg collection. A favourite at jam sessions, and covered by over twenty artists, it achieved platinum status for the band, and the Darius Rucker version topped the country chart in 2013, and this year made the top five most popular country singles of all time.

Their music is a blend of old-time, bluegrass and roots/folk/country, featuring a mix of originals and covers, with instrumentation including guitar, stand up bass, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, dobro and harmonica. Their most recent studio release ‘Volunteer‘ (2018) was their tenth album, followed last year by ‘Live at the Ryman’. Notable in these releases was their full-length tribute to Bob Dylan’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’, entitled ‘50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde’ (2017).

The band have been inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry, and have won two Grammy Awards, Best Folk Album for ‘Remedy‘ (2014) and Best Long Form Music Video for ‘Big Easy Express‘ (2013).

Maintaining their reputation as great live band, and still writing new original material the band have progressed from a street corner band to the mainstream and large stage appearances, without losing their USP as vigorous promoters of their special take on old-time/roots music. Long may this continue!

Discography

‘Eutaw’ (2001)
‘Live’ (2003)
‘O.C.M.S.’ ( 2004)
‘Big Iron World’ ( 2006)
‘Tennessee Pusher’ (2008)
‘Carry Me Back’ (2012)
‘Remedy’ (2014)
’50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde’ (2017)
‘Best Of Old Crow Medicine Show’ (2017)
‘Volunteer’ (2018)
‘Live At The Ryman’ (2019)

Current Line Up

KETCH SECOR | Fiddle, Harmonica, Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
MORGAN JAHNIG | Upright Bass
CORY YOUNTS | Mandolin, Keyboards, Drums, Vocals
JOE ANDREWS | Pedal Steel, Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Dobro
ROBERT PRICE | Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle, Banjo
JERRY PENTECOST | Drums

Author: David Jarman

Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs

1 thought on “AmericanA to Z: Old Crow Medicine Show”

  1. Saw them live at Shepherds Bush doing the Dylan covers and also the Roundhouse Marvellous both times. At the Roundhouse they were supported by Parker Millsap, a great talent too.

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