Sunday, August 12, 2012

Do You Like American Music?:

Americana group Old Crow Medicine Show releases their seventh studio album, inviting lovers of bluegrass and folk to give their ears up to an instant classic.
Do You Like
American Music?
Old Crow Medicine Show's 'Carry Me Back' / Album Review
August 12
by Peter E. Jarvis
Do You Like
American Music?
Old Crow Medicine Show's 'Carry Me Back' / Album Review
Released Jul.17 on ATO
Words By Peter E. Jarvis
You find yourself walking the historic streets of Nashville one sunny afternoon. The streets are packed like a fresh tin of chewing tobacco with vacationers and sightseers. The corners are strategically occupied by buskers, street musicians with strained vocal cords and bloody fingers trying to make a living from the caught attention of people passing by. Some are washed-up musicians holding onto the last decaying thread of a dream, while others are masters of their craft that for some reason never had the right ear pass their way.

Nashville is sometimes called the crossroads of American culture, and the music is no different. A man hunched on a chair with blues-blistered hands, playing a version of “Red House,” is showcased on one corner, while another is boldly occupied by something resembling the Carter family. You make your way around the corner and find quite a commotion in front of the historic Ryman Auditorium. You push your way through the crowd to find an ensemble of six men vigorously drawing, plucking, picking, and strumming a host of different stringed instruments. The man playing the fiddle is shouting lyrics about girls gone wild on the Tennessee line in a hillbilly voice sounding similar to what you might expect from a southern cattle auctioneer.

You drop a five-dollar bill in the money-littered guitar case when the song is over and move on. What you may have not realized is that you just had once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness the infamous Old Crow Medicine Show. The show in front of the Ryman was a surprise performance to promote their new album Carry Me Back, released on July 17th. The new album was produced by British music producer Ted Hutt, guitar player and one of the founding members of Flogging Molly. Since 2002, Hutt has produced and/or mixed albums for such groups as Flogging Molly, MxPx, Dropkick Murphys, the Gaslight Anthem, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and the Riverboat Gamblers. The album was released on the ATO record label which is a division of RCA based out of New York. Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band and its manager Coran Capshaw were two of the founders of ATO, which is currently working with such groups as 311, Alberta Cross, and Primus.

Old Crow Medicine show currently consists of six members: Kevin Hayes, Critter Fuqua, Ketch Secor, Morgan Jahnig, Chance McCoy, and Gill Landry. The group formed in New York 1998, took off in a van playing street corners traveling through Canada, cutting back down to the States, then traveled back East. The band eventually settled in North Carolina where they fell into a bit of luck while playing in front of a pharmacy in Boone, North Carolina. Flat-picking guitar legend Doc Watson discovered their act and invited them to play at his annual MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The appearance led to the band’s relocation to Nashville, where they were taken under the wing of Marty Stuart, president of the Grand Ole Opry.

At this point in their career, they worked with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Rawlings, Welch’s longtime guitarist and songwriter, produced two albums with the band on Nettwerk Records. Most notably was their self-titled album released in 2004 which contained the song "Wagon Wheel". "Wagon Wheel" was a reworking of an outtake Bob Dylan had recorded for the Pat Garret and Billy the Kid soundtrack generally known as Rock Me Mama. The song went gold and has been covered by various acts since its release.

Old Crow Medicine Show fits best in the category of Americana, a blend of country, folk, bluegrass, and R & B. Americana is best described as a traditional representation of a conglomeration of several styles of American roots music. Much of the subject matter seems to take place in days gone past, predominately pre World War II era. However, it seems to touch on timeless lessons that are relevant in today’s world. Artists like Dylan, Cash, and Welch seem to have laid the groundwork for Americana. The soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? was released in 2000, and sparked a revival in the form, setting it aside as a genre of it’s own.

Old Crow Medicine Show sits heavy on the bluegrass side of things musically, while lyrically it leans more towards blues and folk. Working with Hutt seems almost like a no-brainer considering the music sounds like a hillbilly string version of punk. Subject matter focuses on working class Americans, victims of changing times, lost loves, catfights, drug abuse, and other classic American themes.

Carry Me Back leans toward their pre-Rawlings recordings, focusing on raw, fast musical talent with a definite southern undertow. The music has sped up quite a bit from their 2008 release Tennessee Pusher, produced by Don Was. Was, a well-known name in the music industry, has played and recorded with such artists as B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and the Rolling Stones. Tennessee Pusher has a very bluesy slower feel to it. The album also focuses on some more modern-day subjects such as methamphetamine.

Carry Me Back doesn’t have a "Wagon Wheel" single. However, it’s a solid recording that bounces, kicks, and cradles you through the entire album entertained and wondering: what’s next for the Medicine Show? With sold-out shows in New York, Boston, Knoxville, and Portland, your best bet may be a random street corner in Nashville. Nonetheless it’s sure to be an instant classic for anyone who’s got a soft spot for the banjo and that old-time American sound.

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You can find Old Crow Medicine Show's site here. Keep an eye out for an upcoming performance near your town!
Posted on August 12, 2012


  1. :) Great article!

  2. love the story now i need album

  3. super sick article well written


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