These guys -- fiddler Ketch Secor, guitjoist Kevin Hayes, upright bassist Morgan Jahnig, guitarist Willie Watson, and banjoist Critter Fuqua -- have definitely got the back porch vibe down cold. On that front, Old Crow succeed admirably -- the fun these guys are having playing together is pouring through the speakers and they sound like they know they are plugging directly into the music and mood of their forebears, both literal and figurative. Their knowledge was earned the hard way -- through incessant van touring and a stint in North Carolina, where they soaked up the culture and wound up playing the roots music mecca Merle Fest when Doc Watson's daughter happened to stumble across them playing in front of a pharmacy. He’s a balladeer on “Gallows Pole,” whose melancholy melodies are echoed by the slow swells of a four-piece woodwind ensemble, and a bluesman on “When My Baby Left Me,” accompanying himself with sparse bursts of slide guitar.
Produced by David Rawlings, the album carries on a rich tradition in folk music: the sharing and swapping of old songs.
Several singers and sidemen make appearances here, including Gillian Welch, the Punch Brothers’ Paul Kowert, and Old Crow bandmate Morgan Jahnig.
The album carries on the spirit of a time nearly forgotten.
Surely, then, these guys play tongue-in-cheek bluegrass covers of rock 'n' roll songs, à la Hayseed Dixie. Old Crow Medicine Show may look irreverent, but they have old souls. The band scored their biggest coup when they joined up with producer David Rawlings, best known for his work with New Folk leading light -- and fellow old soul -- Gillian Welch. On a string band album, capturing the musicians' sense of community and camaraderie is as important -- if not more important -- than the songs themselves.
Rock & roll’s first double album, Blonde on Blonde is older than every member of Old Crow Medicine Show.
But the Nashville-based stringband revealed, in speeches and in their inventive renditions of Dylan’s songs, the influence that his work and this particular album have pressed upon the band.“Bob Dylan belongs in the Country Music Hall of Fame,” Secor said.“Not just because he made these three or four powerful albums here.For Old Crow Medicine Show’s best-known song, “Wagon Wheel,” Secor took an unfinished Dylan composition, “Rock Me Mama,” that he heard on a bootleg recording, and, with permission, added his own words and music.It’s become a staple for cover bands performing in nightclubs across the South.He is at the heart of what Nashville, Tennessee, is all about. Fifty years ago, in fact.” OCMS—with multi-instrumentalists Joe Andrews, Critter Fuqua, Kevin Hayes, Morgan Jahnig, Chance Mc Coy, Secor, and Cory Younts—has made a career of putting a fresh spin on older American music.