Old Crow Medicine Show Keep Tradition Alive
Traditional country group Old Crow Medicine Show were discovered while playing on a street corner, but they can now be heard everywhere from NPR's 'A Prairie Home Companion,' to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.
Led by singer-guitarist Willie Watson, the five young men, play a high-energy combination of old-time, bluegrass and country music, punctuated by three-part vocal harmony. Their latest album, 'Tennessee Pusher,' on the Nettwerk label, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's bluegrass chart and at No. 7 on the country chart. They were also recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal, where fiddle, banjo and harmonica player Ketch Secor, recalled how the band honed their craft on street corners throughout the U.S. and Canada, playing for tips, and while playing in Boone, N.C., in 1999, were discovered by guitarist and folk legend Doc Watson.
"We were doing real well -- probably made 200 bucks," Secor said, "and this woman came up, started tapping her feet, and said, 'I want to go get my Daddy.' She came back with Doc Watson. He told us we were the most authentic old-time band he'd heard in a while. He said, 'Boys, how'd you like to play at the festival I have in honor of my son?'"
Conditions at the band's performance at Merlefest, the annual Wilkesboro, N.C., event named for Merle Watson, who died in a 1985 farming accident, were far from ideal, "It rained most of the weekend and we were a little haggard-looking," said Secor. "But they let us put our tip jar out, and if you ask people who were there, they'd tell you we shook it up on stage."
And although the chart action their latest album has increased the group's visibility, Secor believes they have a more important goal in mind.
Look for the band on December 6, as guests on RFD-TV's 'The Marty Stuart Show.'