Tag Archives: Old Crow Medicine Show

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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2017 in Review: Live Albums

Let’s get this retrospective party started! Five posts to come, hopefully over the next five days.

A few notes:

  • No rankings this year. I do reference what might have been ranked the album of the year, however.
  • Everything is listed alphabetically. I think. I hope.
  • There are five categories: Live Albums, Blasts from the Past, Americana, RVA, and 25 Favorites. I usually do an EPs category, but everything I was planning on listing seemed to fit better elsewhere this year.
  • Aside from the last category, I didn’t shoot for a certain number in each. The main priority was writing about as many albums as possible — around 60 total.
  • Each album appears in just one category. And if something could reasonably be placed in the RVA category, it was. So Butcher Brown’s excellent Live at Vagabond album isn’t listed here, even though it was one of my favorite live albums of the year.

Without further ado, here are the other live albums I enjoyed in 2017:

Animal Collective — Meeting of the Waters

My biggest regret from this year’s Record Store Day. I saw it with my own two eyes. I could have picked it up, taken it home, and there wouldn’t be this empty feeling in my soul. Oh wait, that’s because of the current political climate. Still, though… I thought this wouldn’t be my cup of tea because Panda Bear isn’t involved, but it’s great. Loose yet intense. Wild yet measured. Seeing it described somewhere as a return to the style employed on the group’s earlier recordings helped. By the way, 2017 turned out to be the year I got an OG copy of Sung Tongs. Good stuff.

Animal Collective — “Blue Noises” [Spotify/iTunes]

Drive-By Truckers — Live In Studio · New York, NY · 07/12/16

I did snag this one on Record Store Day. I’m likely not alone in saying that many of my most meaningful DBT experiences have taken place in the live setting, and it’s great to hear tracks from American Band come to life like this. Especially “Ramon Casiano,” which showcases the great combination of depth and specificity that makes Mike Cooley’s songwriting so interesting.

Drive-By Truckers — “Ramon Casiano” [Discogs]

Steve Gunn — Dusted

Tour-only live album. No digital version, as far as I can tell, so no sample track to share. Just grab it if you see it. Gunn and frequent collaborator James Elkington at their best.

Jason Isbell — Live from Welcome to 1979

This is what I was obsessing over while I was overlooking that Animal Collective jam, in large part because of the cover of “Atlantic City.”

What can I say about “Atlantic City”? It’s on a very short list of “All Time” favorites on Spotify and I wrote a mini-essay on the song after spending time in the city for the first time, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Isbell perform it. I’m sitting here trying to think of a combination of artist and cover that would make we wake up earlier in the morning… Thom Yorke singing “Hallelujah”? Donald Trump singing “2 + 2 = 5”?

Jason Isbell — “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen cover) [Discogs]

Old Crow Medicine Show — 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde

Say what you want about “Wagon Wheel,” ban it from being played by cover bands in your bar, whatever. I’ll always love the song, and I think it’s genuinely inspiring how it founded a mutual admiration society between Dylan and the Old Crow folks. The respect the band has for the man really shines through on 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde.

Old Crow Medicine Show — “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” (Bob Dylan cover) [Spotify/iTunes]

Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell Live

I do a spectacularly shitty job of keeping track of the shows I see. In the alternate universe where I manage to put together a “Top Shows I Saw this Year” list, Sufjan’s set at the Altria in May of 2015 — less than two months after Carrie & Lowell came out — would likely have topped that year’s list. This was recorded later in 2015, in November, but if I close my eyes and let it take me away, I can picture myself in the intense atmosphere of that Altria show, especially during the extended “We’re all gonna die” coda to “Fourth Of July.”

Sufjan Stevens — “Fourth Of July” (live) [Spotify/iTunes]

More 2017 in Review

2017 in Review: Blasts from the Past
2017 in Review: Americana
2017 in Review: RVA
2017 in Review: 25 Favorites

 

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Old Crow Medicine Show

Divided and United

There are lots of reasons to love Old Crow Medicine Show’s rendition of “Marching Through Georgia,” so many that I have no choice but to make a bulleted list. Here goes:

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Old Crow Medicine Show

Carry Me Back

So we just found out on Tuesday that Bob Dylan is releasing a new album, entitled Tempest, on September 11. I don’t know about you, but album announcements don’t usually get me too riled up. It’s hard to get excited about a press release accompanied by a list of out-of-context song titles, especially when the payoff can be so far away. I mean, September is like a year away (delayed gratification and I are not friends). This announcement was different though, and not just because it’s Bob Dylan, and that’s reason enough to get one’s undies in a bunch. My undies bunched double because I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, the “Scarlet Town” that’s included on the track list was a cover of the “Scarlet Town” Gillian Welch released on her 2011 album The Harrow & The Harvest. I even spent like 30 minutes drafting unsent Tweets about it:

“Part of me is hoping that “Scarlet Town” from Bob Dylan’s upcoming album is a cover of the @gillianwelch tune. The other part of me thinks that’s wrong.”

Other drafts were less circumspect, focusing on how I’d probably pee my pants if my theory were to hold true. (Does anyone else routinely spend half an hour writing tweets they don’t send? Anyone? Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

But all that excitement and subsequent guilt over rooting for a cover from the greatest songwriter of all time vanished into thin air when I actually took the time to read the whole press release, which states clearly that Tempest features “ten new and original Bob Dylan songs.” Well, then. There goes that. Guess I should know better than to try to predict Bob Dylan’s behavior. After all, this exists.

My Tempest gratification may be delayed until September, but Tuesday was kind enough to balance things out by dropping a brick of pure, uncut, instant gratification in my lap via a text from my friend Tex (say that 5 times fast) asking if I’d heard the new Old Crow Medicine Show album.

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Old Crow Medicine Show

Wagon Wheel

I have one more Nashville-related story, and then I swear I’ll stop. (You didn’t think I could squeeze 5 blog posts out of one 4-day trip, didja? Consider yourself lucky that I ran out of disposable daylight hours before I could visit the Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.) To be honest, though, the events described in the paragraphs below could have taken place anywhere, not just in Music City, and that’s more or less the point I’ll be making.

You often hear people say that there will never be another Beatles, or another Rolling Stones. Of course these claims are correct in the literal sense, but I think they’re also accurate in a more general way; it’s hard to imagine a group having that sort of massive cultural impact now that the musical landscape is so fragmented. I often wonder if any of bands that I adore now will be considered by my hypothetical grandchildren as part of some unified musical canon, or if the diffusion of listeners’ attention across a multitude of sub-genres means that there will be several different canons, each with its own revered membership. It’s a depressing thought in some ways, one that makes this Gen-Y’er feel like his favorite bands aren’t quite as important as they ought to be (or that they might have been 50 or 60 years ago).

But guess what? My glass-half-empty, future-phobic ranting ends there, because I believe, with every fiber in my being, that songs are as important as they ever have been, and that their import isn’t going anywhere. Even if my kids’ kids’ kids’ kids don’t know who the hell Journey was, I bet they’ll still be fist-pumping like idiots to “Don’t Stop Believing” at some dive-y lunar bar in 2162. That’s because truly great, canon-worthy songs transcend genres, nations, races, ages, even the people who wrote and performed them — they become a part of us. And I’m not speaking figuratively; they literally become part of our physiology by reorganizing the neural pathways in our brains to make singing along with the lyrics easier (this would be creepy if it wasn’t so awesome). So why do I bring this up now? Because events that took place in Nashville lead to me believe Old Crow Medicine Show’sWagon Wheel” is one of these transcendent songs.

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Old Crow Medicine Show

Tennessee Pusher

It’s a holiday weekend. The weather is perfect. The grill is ready to light and your friends are on their way over, but you were too busy and/or lazy to make a playlist for the occasion. So, who is your go-to band? Who can you count on to set the right mood, so you don’t have to keep running over from the grill to skip all the embarrassing songs that come on when your iPod is set to random? For me, there’s an easy answer: Old Crow Medicine Show. How I started listening to Old Crow stands in perfect contrast to yesterday’s post about Delicate Steve. There are no press releases here, no lessons about public relations or authenticity, just a simple story about hearing a band for the first time and instantly connecting. At Bonnaroo in 2005, I happened to wander over to the tent where Old Crow was playing. To this day, I can remember so distinctly the feeling that their songs felt like old friends I just hadn’t met yet. Their performance was raucous (I swear their shows have gotten even crazier – last time I saw them at the National, people were crowdsurfing … to bluegrass), but their blend of roots music and Americana carried a soulful undercurrent that resonated deeply, and still does today. As a tribute to all the cookouts that will be happening this weekend, check out their song “Humdinger,” which chronicles a nice little get-together.

Just kidding it’s about an out-of-control, 700-person celebration of “wine, whiskey, women and guns.”

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