Tag Archives: Guy Clark

Old Crow Medicine Show

I love seeing shows at Maymont. I was just there a few weeks ago for Shovels & Rope, and it was outstanding. The surroundings are gorgeous — just inside the main Maymont gates, with rolling hills in the background and trees here, there, and everywhere. It’s a breath of fresh air — literally and figuratively — compared to many indoor (and outdoor) venues.

A few nights stand out in my memory as especially meaningful. Béla Fleck is one. Gillian Welch is way up there — seeing her pay tribute to Guy Clark by playing “Dublin Blues” was otherworldly. Another highlight was seeing Old Crow Medicine Show there in 2012, and I’m thrilled they’ll be returning to Maymont this Friday. (Tickets here.)

They’re touring behind a strong batch of new tunes in Volunteer, which was released in April of this year. Though the album features a characteristic mix of upbeat romps and slower, sweeter songs, things feel elevated on this album. “Whirlwind” tugs especially hard at nostalgic heartstrings, and “Flicker And Shine” pushes a truly frenetic pace, showing off the adrenaline-addled fifth gear that’s always set the band apart from many of its peers.

I’m especially stuck on “Shout Mountain Music,” though. While it too picks up the pace, it’s an example of how Old Crow can reach back to the roots of old time country and reveal something that feels wild and organic. And it capitalizes on one of my favorite techniques of theirs — grounding lyrics in specific geography, so they feel more real, and more connected to the places that have played a role in the living history of country and folk music. And I have to admit: Whether it’s “James River Blues” or “Shout Mountain Music,” it’s always fun to hear Richmond called out in an Old Crow tune.

Hope to see y’all there on Friday.

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Guy Clark

Guy Clark

I was lucky enough to see Gillian Welch at Maymont on Sunday night. The show was excellent, aside from cicadas trying so hard to drown out the music that Welch and Dave Rawlings actually commented on them. Seeing her sing “Hard Times” was incredibly meaningful, but what’s stuck with me most is a cover they played.

“Stuck with me” might not be strong enough language. It’s more like I’ve been haunted. It’s been stuck in my head, I’ve been singing the chorus to my daughter, I’ve missed out on some sleep because my brain has decided that bedtime is when I should try to run through the lyrics… It’s a little nuts.

I’m talking about “Dublin Blues,” a Guy Clark song. Welch played it as a tribute to Clark, who died in May of this year, finishing with “We love you, Guy!” and a story about Clark championing her music early in her career. I took a video of it (I try to keep my phone in my pocket as much as possible at shows these days, but hearing “This is a cover of…” causes involuntary reflexes to kick in) and I watched a few times when I got home, then found Clark’s studio version, and haven’t really stopped listening since, if you count the intra-cranial plays.

It’s hard to put a finger on why “Dublin Blues” managed hijack my brain, but if I had to guess, I’d say it has something to do with the way it plays with the idea of sophistication. By singing “I have been to Forth Worth, and I have been to Spain,” Clark upends the notion that people who drink Mad Dog margaritas have no culture, while simultaneously elevating the everyday experiences of those who may not have the means to visit Europe. He does the same by finishing a list of wonders he’s seen — Michelangelo’s David, the Mona Lisa — with seeing Doc Watson play “Columbus Stockade Blues,” a wonder that, ironically, will never be seen again. (For a sillier take on the same idea, try “We’re Not The Jet Set.”) And the whole story is couched in heartache — something that can strike anyone at anytime. All that nuance, just three chords, as best as I can tell.

Speaking of just three chords, hey band guys — if you’re reading this, wanna cover it? I’ve been working on the lyrics…

Guy Clark — “Dublin Blues” [Spotify/iTunes]

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