Old Crow Medicine Show in Rochester, NY

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As I mentioned we would do in May, we had a family concert outing last Thursday night to see the Old Crow Medicine Show in Rochester, NY. The venue was the Water Street Music Hall, right off the Inner Loop.

I didn’t write about this immediately, because it’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks. My daughter Katie got home from several days in New York City last Wednesday, the concert was Thursday, Katie got her wisdom teeth out on Friday, and then my son William went to camp on Sunday.

The doors opened at 7PM for the 8:00 show, and we got there at 6:50 after having dinner at a local Thai restaurant. As we pulled into the parking lot behind the music hall, we could see the band’s tour bus and we ended up parking about 30 feet from it. Chris “Critter” Fuqua was standing outside the bus talking on his cell phone. We didn’t bother him because 1) he was talking on his cell phone and 2) he looked like he had just awakened. We swung around to the front of the building and were told that doors wouldn’t be opening for 10 more minutes. What was odd about this was that no one else was in line. A few other people started arriving soon after, but we were nevertheless the first through the doors.

Katie and I grabbed standing spots right in the front at stage center, while Judith and William were able to get stools by the bar, also at the front. Katie and I would hang on to our spots tenaciously as the hall filled and people started pushing forward. We were no more than 10 to 20 feet from the band members the whole evening.

OCMS started almost 30 minutes late but then played two sets for a total of 25 songs. The musicianship and energy were extraordinary for the whole evening. Morgan Jahnig played standup bass all night and Kevin Hayes also kept to his “guit-jo” (a 6 string banjo, often tuned like a guitar) the whole time. Ketch Secor moved between fiddle, guitar and harmonica, Willie Watson played guitar and banjo, and Critter played guitar, banjo, and resonator guitar. The latter three shared vocals.

As a family, we have fallen in love with this group, even though it is odd to hear my son sing songs that mention cocaine (we’ve done a lot of talking about that). Hearing the albums afterwards, Katie and I were struck at how much more power was in the live performance, though this is in no way limited to OCMS. Being so close for the whole evening made it extra special. There were no duds whatsoever in the song selection, and several songs like “New Virginia Creeper,” “Tell It To Me,” and “Wagon Wheel” got everyone singing along. (Note the chorus and melody of “Wagon Wheel” were written by Bob Dylan, more on that later.)

The band did two encores, with the first starting with Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay.” This, of course, made Katie pretty happy. She immediately leaned over and told me that they were doing the version from 1976’s Hard Rain.

After the concert, we stayed a few minutes and the roadie gave us some of the set lists the band was using. Later, we walked outside and around back to our car. We were a bit surprised to see Morgan by the bus and he happily signed the set lists for Katie. We swung around the corner and both Ketch and Willie were talking to fans. We all got to chat with them and they signed the set lists.

In her conversation with Willie Watson, Katie asked about Dylan and “Wagon Wheel” and he confirmed that they based the song on the chorus fragment Dylan recorded. He said that there were usually two or three people at each concert who knew that. She also mentioned “Lay, Lady, Lay” at which point Willie and Katie simultaneously mentioned it was the ’76 Hard Rain version. They both laughed, and Willie said it made his whole night that she knew the exact version they performed. Needless to say, it made her night as well.

Folks, this is a fantastic group. The easiest, cheapest, and DRM-free-est way to get into them is via eMusic but you can also get their music via the usual CD and digital music outlets. Their website lists their upcoming tour dates. Along with Dylan, we now have a new band to try to see at least once a year.

I listed some of their videos on YouTube in a previous blog entry.


  1. How great! It sounds like it turned into a terrific family and fan event.

    I see they will be in Seattle on August 15 and I live near one of the markets that has tickets (and I didn’t know that). I’ll see what I find when I go that way on errands tomorrow.

    I keep thinking I have heard their music or seen music videos, but all I could find where I have some favorites is a poor capture (cell-phone probably) of “The Weight” with Emmylou Harris: http://soapbox.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=ca3cc0a2-71a8-451c-a3b3-6faf1639c86c

    OK, it’s time for me to get serious about eMusic anyhow. Thanks again.

  2. Oops, right. It was the YouTube ones that I’d seen when you linked before. It looks like there are quite a few more up there now.

  3. I mentioned to Vicki that I was going to score two tix at the Metropolitan Market if she was interested in going to the Amphitheater on August 15. She say, “Oh, I love that band!” I never knew. She says she remembers them from over 10 years ago, and I wonder if it is the same group (or the same composition). I have the tickets.

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