Old Crow Medicine Show at Maymont taught me to love a good whistler

by | Aug 20, 2014 | MUSIC

August 17, 2014 Old Crow Medicine show returned to Maymont for the first time since 2010 to bring their trademark old-time folk music to the masses of Richmond.

August 17, 2014 Old Crow Medicine show returned to Maymont for the first time since 2010 to bring their trademark old-time folk music to the masses of Richmond.

As this was my first time seeing them, I was in awe. I’m not the biggest fan of the pop-like country music that plays on the radio, but I do love folk music and Bob Dylan, both of which inspired the band.

Dylan’s influence was apparent; however, with Ketch Secor, the front man of Old Crow, relating to the crowd with a charming southern accent about the love we all share for Richmond and the surrounding areas, it’s safe to say the audience felt proud to be from the south.

The night began with Langhorne Slim. A “Yankee”, as he called himself on stage while laughing along with the joking “boos” he got in response.

Slim is a Pennsylvania born, self-taught guitarist. Usually Slim plays with his punk-folk group called Langhorne Slim and the Law, but for his tour opening for OCMS, he went solo, only having his guitar and his voice to accompany him on the stage.

Slim bonded with the crowd, telling jokes and explaining what his next song would be about, or what the inspiration for the track was. Following folk tradition, his songs were stories of life and the experiences that come along with it.

His inspirations could come from the smallest things; he stated that one song was inspired by a dog he knew whose owner told him “This dog knows no strangers!”

Although Slim was playing alone most of the time, he did bring guests along with him. Josh Headley joined him about halfway through to sing and play his fiddle. Headley is the newest member of Langhorne Slim and the Law as of this past June.

Slim and his guests gave the audience plenty of opportunities to participate by asking us to sing along or clap in time and dance, and ended his part of the show with a warm goodbye and invitation to visit him at his merchandise booth.

The wait between bands wasn’t as uncomfortable as they usually are in indoor venues. With food trucks and merchandise booths, it was easy to roam around in the open available in Maymont’s concert space.

Even just laying on a blanket and enjoying the outdoors was enough to satisfy the time it took for Old Crow to come on stage.

There was no pushing and shoving to get to the front and the natural slant of the ground to the stage allowed even people in the back of the crowd to see the stage easily.

With the audience cheering, the 7-man band came on stage and immediately burst into a song from their newest album. Most of the band wore “proper” country attire, with button downs, flannel, and cowboy hats included, while Critter Fuqua, founding member of the band along with Secor, wore one of his signature baseball caps.

Although a lot of the music they played was from their newest album “Remedy”, they kept it a great mixture of both old and new music. One of the songs that stuck with me from their new album was “Eight Dogs Eight Banjos.” With simple enough lyrics, but intense fiddle and banjo playing, this song is something you can’t help but dance to.

Because the lyrics are easy to repeat, it’s easy to sing along with the song as well, if you can keep up with the fast pace.

OCMS also played their newest gem, the second “Bob Dylan/ Old Crow Medicine Show co-write. After explaining the story of how Bob Dylan heard their finished version of his old partially completed song “Rock Me Mama”, or “Wagon Wheel” as they called it, he got his manager to get in touch with theirs to finish another song. The band then went into a soul-filled anthem called “Sweet Amarillo.” Not one you would hop around and dance to, but rather one to dance cheek-to-cheek with your partner.

Another crowd favorite was when one of Old Crow’s songs morphed into “This Land is Your Land”. It was interesting especially to me that they chose to play this song and somewhat heartwarming because it’s a nod to Woody Guthrie as well as Bob Dylan. It shows the progression of artists; that Woody Guthrie was Bob Dylan’s biggest inspiration, and in turn Dylan is Old Crow’s biggest inspiration.

What is extremely impressive about this band is that each member is not only proficient at the instrument they mainly play with the band, but at almost all others as well it seemed. For instance, the band’s drummer Cory Younts also played keyboard, guitar, and was an extremely amazing whistler.

I didn’t think somebody’s whistling could be so clear and in tune until then.

With the airy outdoor venue that is Maymont, along with the lively folk music that Old Crow plays so well, I’d have to say this was one of the best I’ve ever been to.

It felt as though we all should have been in the mountains; at times I actually forgot that I wasn’t in the mountains and was in Richmond (although the heat was a pretty good reminder).

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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