As purveyors of old-timey music, for nearly 20 years, Old Crow Medicine Show—Ketch Secor (fiddle, harmonica, banjo, guitar, mandolin and vocals), Critter Fuqua (banjo, guitars, accordion and vocals), Kevin Hayes (guitjo and vocals), Morgan Jahnig (bass and vocals), Chance McCoy (fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and vocals) and Cory Younts (mandolin, drums, keys, harmonica and vocals)—have been spinning “traditional folk and bluegrass yarns with a rock and roll attitude,” according to AllMusic. They’re known for their fiery, energetic live performances and have released five studio albums, including 2014’s Remedy (stream it below), which the Guardian noted for its “impressive Americana with raw energy and classy musicianship.” Earlier this year, Old Crow Medicine Show (above, covering “Just Like a Woman”) released a live recording of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, appropriately titled 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde (stream it below). And now in mid-tour form, they play Brooklyn Steel on Monday night. Joshua Hedley opens the show.
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A young guy with an old-timey Americana sound, 21-year-old Parker Millsap grew up in small-town Oklahoma attending Pentecostal church three times a week, which—despite the fact he no longer considers himself to be very religious—undoubtedly affects his songwriting. He began playing acoustic guitar at just nine years old, but once Millsap discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, like Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, he plugged in. And thanks to a post–high school performance in Nashville, Millsap won a coveted spot opening for Old Crow Medicine Show and later Patty Griffin, Shovels & Rope and Lake Street Dive. But with the release of his self-titled debut album (stream it below) last year, the engaging live performer became known for more than his gravelly, soulful voice. In a glowing review, PopMatters proclaimed, “Road tunes and leave-takings are a fitting metaphorical trope for this album, because Millsap is clearly going places. With his voice and his rich, suggestive songwriting, it might not be long before Red Dirt isn’t just a bandwagon that people recognize, but one that they might be willing to jump onto.” And per American Songwriter, “Like the best of his peers, Millsap lets his music and lyrics do the talking, keeping the production sparse, not stark, and creating a terrific, even audacious first effort. Millsap’s subtle style allows the listener to discover the emotional vortex of his often confused characters, helping us identify with their motives without casting judgment.” Of course, you can judge for yourself because with a night off from opening for Houndmouth, Parker Millsap (above, doing “Truck Stop Gospel” live at the Grand Ole Opry) plays the early show at Mercury Lounge on Sunday.
Tags: Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Houndmouth, Lake Street Dive, Mercury Lounge, Old Crow Medicine Show, Parker Millsap, Patty Griffin, Preview, Shovels & Rope, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Video
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Brothers Seth (vocals and guitar) and Scott (vocals, banjo and drums) Avett, and Bob Crawford (bass, violin and vocals) and Joe Kwon (cello, saw and vocals) are known for rowdy, authentic Americana roots, energetic alt-country music, and a healthy dose of bluegrass and folk music. Their eighth studio album, last year’s Magpie and the Dandelion (stream it below), produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, “is chock full of tracks that show the Avett Brothers are (very wisely) growing their sound, while remaining true to their core principles and what listeners like about them to begin with,” said American Songwriter. “It’s clear with this latest effort that the Avett Brothers don’t care much for recent trends and don’t chase after something they think their fans want them to be, but instead is a pure taste of raw musical expression, and the resulting effort is that each track is better than the next.” They hail from North Carolina, but the Avett Brothers (above, performing “Laundry Room” for Live on Letterman ) are coming to Brooklyn to rock Barclays Center tomorrow night. As an added bonus, the like-minded Old Crow Medicine Show kick off the night.
Tags: Avett Brothers, Barclays Center, Bob Crawford, Joe Kwan, Magpie and the Dandelion, Old Crow Medicine Show, Preview, Rick Rubin, Scott Avett, Seth Avett, Video
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Gifted singer-songwriter Robert Ellis is known for his take on folk and country music. In fact his last album, Photographs (stream it below), was an even mix—five each—of the two. American Songwriter made comparisons to Townes Van Zandt and Kris Kristofferson and saying, “His plainspoken lyricism is matched by a penchant for elegantly rustic melodies.” Since then, Ellis (above, doing “Bottle of Wine” for American Songwriter) has been busy on the road, touring with the likes of Deer Tick and Old Crow Medicine Show. But he’s still found time to record new music, and he just recently released another full-length, The Lights from the Chemical Plant (stream below), which isn’t so squarely focused on folk and country. And again American Songwriter weight in: “If Robert Ellis solidified himself on Photographs as a champion of classic troubadour-y country, he’s letting us know with The Lights from the Chemical Plant that we sold him short…. Ellis shows he’s got a lot more tricks up his sleeve.” See him tonight at Mercury Lounge. Deer Tick’s Ian O’Neil opens the show.
Old Crow Medicine Show – SummerStage – August 6, 2012
In case you somehow forgot where Old Crow Medicine Show was in the midst of playing a marathon set of old school bluegrass last night, frontman Ketch Secor constantly reminded everyone that it was in Central Park in New York City. In what became a running thread, Secor would mention this every chance he got, expanding with a litany of facts and numbers and then name-dropping boroughs, neighborhoods and most of the outlying suburbs. It became clear that it was partly tongue-in-cheek. Only partly, though, because it was also clear as the band churned through material from most of its albums of the last decade, that location is very important to Old Crow. The group mentioned a couple dozen Southern states and backwoods towns, both real and imagined, throughout the night: from the Virginia of the opening “Carry Me Back to Virginia” to the Alabama in “Alabama High Test” to the “Mountain City” of “Bootlegger’s Boy.” For these guys, where you are is as important as where you’re from and where you’re going.
The show began beneath a beautiful orange-and-blue sunset as Old Crow rotated easily among banjos, fiddles, harmonicas and guitars. The show was sold out, quite amazingly to a mostly younger crowd that didn’t quite have the look of folk who’d spent any time at a bluegrass festival. It took a while for the audience to settle in, but once the sun set, the chitchat died away and everyone focused on the music. Things turned more interesting right around the same time with a string of songs that started with “Methamphetamine” and “James River Blues.” With plenty of fiddle breakdowns and multipart harmonies, the crowd started to really move. This reached a head with “Wagon Wheel,” which drew the biggest reaction of the night, with everyone singing along. It may have been Central Park, but it suddenly felt like the band’s home.
The set was a strong 80-plus minutes of music, but the encore deserves its own paragraph. After a nice version of “Hard to Love,” Old Crow Medicine Show brought out the first openers, the Milk Carton Kids, for “I Hear Them All” with an appropriate “This Land Is Your Land” squeezed in the middle. Then they brought out the second openers, the Lumineers, for an awesome everyone-onstage take on “Sweet Virginia,” which seemed appropriate considering the opening number. Again it was location, location, location as the whole ensemble rocked an appropriately big version of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” At this point there were more than twelve musicians onstage comprising just about every string instrument you could imagine. The laws of live music (The Last Waltz Act of 1976) state that when that many people assemble for an encore, they must finish with an everyone-gets-some take on “I Shall Be Released,” and so that’s how they ended a wonderful night in Central Park in New York City. —A. Stein