Like Willie did in the 70’s with the rednecks and hippies, Old Crow Medicine Show brought Affliction shirt bro-country fans and amply bearded roots-music hipsters together. Except on this sizzling Friday evening in Dallas it wasn’t the burgeoning Outlaw sound the crowd came to hear, it was a reflection of yesteryear served up with contemporary punch. Perhaps a new Outlaw sound.
The band hit the stage running promptly at 9. The moseying tale of incarcerated delight, “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer,” kicked off the evening resulting in joyous hoots and hollers from the capacity House of Blues crowd.
New tunes selected from their excellent recent release “Remedy” meshed seamlessly with road tested classics from their extensive repertoire. Like the medley mash-up of Bootlegger’s Boy/8 Dogs/White Face, it all fit like a hand-made quilt albeit from your crazy Aunt Betty.
New selections also set the occasion, front-man Ketch Secor to inform the crowd that “Sweet Amarillo,” the latest collaboration between OCMS and Bob Dylan, was to be played live for the first time in the Lone Star State. This being a song about a Texas city being played in Texas that went over with great appreciation.
Many selections came from the band’s 2009 release “Tennessee Pusher.” Crowd favorites like Caroline, Alabama High-Test, , the double entendre toe-tapper Mary’s Kitchen and trailer-park party anthem “Humdinger” had the crowd singing along to every drawled syllable at lung-splitting levels. “If you’re not a folk singer we’re going to have a humdinger.” We were!
In the style of their namesake Old Crow live taps the showmanship of the crowd-beckoning horse and wagon snake oil entertainers. Except once enticed to gather, the miracle elixir the band dispenses soothes the soul and quenches the need for elusive authenticity, a characteristic most recently tied to punk rock. We hear in themes of struggle of poverty, the corrosion of war, and lure of temptation and the celebration of a good time as a live example of the twisted roots in of the common arts of punk, folk and country in all it’s DIY glory.
Showmanship didn’t mask a lack of masterful instrumentation. In true bluegrass style (except for the dreaded drum kit) of breakneck virtuoso playing and solo trade-offs did abound. There’s is no slacking in the band, no coasting. Each song is tight, even the loose ones, and executed with a rambunctiousness that makes it appear to be ready to swerve off a cliff and bust into moonshine-fueled flames.
Live the Old Crow Medicine Show makes their better-known acolytes Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers and The Lumineers look like greenhorns. Their recent success with Darius Rucker covering Wagon Wheel, joining the Grand ‘Ol Opry and becoming recipients of the Trailblazer Award at the Americana Honors & Awards Show makes this tour even sweeter.
And on this night Old Crow Medicine Show does what they do best. Remind is what great music sounds and looks like. And proves there’s a little hillbilly in all of us.
Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer
Bootlegger’s Boy/8 Dogs/White Face
Ol’ Hairy Mole/Ruckus
People Get Ready
Tell That Woman
Carry Me Back To Virginia
Fall On My Knees/Tear It Down
Cocaine Habit/Tell It To Me
Long As I Can See The Light
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald