Old Crow Medicine Show to stop by Northampton

By Adria Kelly-Sullenger

Courtesy of 6tee_zeven/Flickr
Courtesy of 6tee_zeven/Flickr

In 2000, legendary folk-singer Doc Watson was walking down a street in Boone, North Carolina. A country string band of seven caught his eye as he wandered past a pharmacy. It was the second year that Old Crow Medicine Show had spent busking on street corners since they began by working their way around New York state and Canada. Doc Watson invited them to play at MerleFest, one of America’s largest music festivals, and seeing the promise in this show the band jumped at the opportunity with tenacity and zeal. Now Old Crow Medicine Show can be found on tours with massively popular groups like Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers.

Marcus Mumford said in the tour film “Big Easy Express” that listening to Old Crow Medicine Show was what “really got me into folk music… that’s what made me fall in love with country music.”  Even though the band’s umbrella genre is country, with most of the members playing multiple instruments and singing, OCMS achieves a unique and funky sound that’s hard to place a finger on. The band’s lineup is comprised of seven members: Kevin Hayes on the guitjo (a stringed instrument combining elements of both the guitar and banjo), Cory Younts playing the mandolin, keyboard and drums, Critter Fuqua on a banjo and slide guitar, Chance McCoy jamming on the guitar, banjo and fiddle, Ketch Secor playing the harmonica, banjo and fiddle, Gill Landry on a slide guitar and banjo, and Morgan Jahnig on the upright bass. All of these instruments come together to create a brilliant mixture of American roots, folk and bluegrass. Their brisk and vibrant performance brings a magnificent energy to their shows and makes crowds go wild.

Old Crow Medicine Shows’ debut album, “Eutaw and Greetings From Wawa,” was released in 2002, but it was not until 2004, when they released their second album, “O.C.M.S.,” that they started gathering a larger following. On “O.C.M.S.” was the band’s breakthrough hit “Wagon Wheel,” which received the RIAAs’ Platinum Certification for selling over 1 million copies and has now become the band’s signature song. The band’s most recent album, 2012’s “Carry Me Back,” shows a growth in their sound and a wider variety of tones and textures. On “Carry Me Back” the band jumps from upbeat folk to country anthems, broadening the scope of their musical knowledge.

Old Crow Medicine Show also won a “Best Long Form Music Video” Grammy Award in 2013 for “Big Easy Express,” a documentary of the Railroad Revival tour. On this journey they joined Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros for an old-fashioned train ride from California to New Orleans. The band now frequents popular festivals like Bonaroo, Coachella and the Newport Folk Festival.

Over the years, Old Crow Medicine Show has developed a reputation for their incredible live shows, and this Wednesday they will take a break from their tour with the Avett Brothers to stop by Northampton. Opening for OCMS is singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez and guitarist Luke Jacobs who are known for their smooth country tones. They will be jamming at the Calvin Theatre on March 5 at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 for balcony seats or $45 for the dance floor.

 Adria Kelly-Sullenger can be reached at [email protected]