As the sun set on Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, NC, Nashville-based Americana superstars Old Crow Medicine Show was just getting the party started.
Folk rock group Dawes opened the evening’s show, treating the audience to a crunchy, vintage rock sound that I could imagine playing on a 70’s radio broadcast. While it was the first time I had heard them play, there was a solid turnout of fans sporting Dawes tee shirts, and the crowd appeared excited to see them.
Dawes opened with Living in the Future, a track off of their latest record, Passwords. Not a group to shy away from dark themes, their lyrics are almost as crunchy as their sound. Living in the Future is an almost dystopian commentary on media and society.
Following Dawes, Old Crow Medicine Show took the stage. As seasoned performers, their set was energetic and polished. I particularly enjoy how the band interacts together throughout their performance, goofing off a bit during solos, playing with a bit of style and flair. They are a band that understands that the appeal of a live performance goes beyond the music and incorporates every aspect of the presentation.
Another element of Old Crow’s charm is the band’s interaction with their audience. Frontman Ketch Secor is well known for his banter between sets, adding a bit of rugged charm to the performance by reminiscing about the band’s time in North Carolina and making frequent references to nearby towns that served as inspirations for their music.
The set included OCMS classics such as Tell it to Me and I Hear Them All, some new tracks off of their latest record, Volunteer, and a handful of traditional tunes and covers, such as Jimmie Rodgers’ In the Jailhouse Now and Paradise by John Prine, with whom the band shared the Booth Amphitheater stage a decade prior.
I’ve enjoyed following Old Crow Medicine Show over the years, and they have certainly left their mark across genres of music, from folk to country to bluegrass to pop. Their signature song, Wagon Wheel, can be heard just about anytime someone picks up an acoustic guitar – I’ve played it more times than I can count, from my living room to crowds of 3,000 people. (I even played it at my wedding.)
If you’re one of the three people on planet earth who hasn’t heard about Old Crow Medicine Show, you can learn all about them, listen to their music, and find a tour date near you by visiting their website.