The Old Crow Medicine Show talks about ‘Wagon Wheel’, ‘Americana music’ and ‘Grammys’

These days people call this type of music Americana, but in the late ’90s we called it the Old Crow Medicine Show. The Virginia-founded band has made roots music cool, modern, and catchy again. It’s no small feat amid the age of neo-metal and teen pop.

The Grammy-winning group is also known for its “Wagon Wheel”, an unfinished sketch of Bob Dylan’s 1970s hit Old Crow that turned into a perfect song that a large number of people wanted to cover, from the hit version of country singer Darius Rucker to an array of bar bands and vocal singers. singles.

Now out in Nashville, Old Crow’s new album “Paint This Town” features 12 pieces of handcrafted tunes. The band’s current lineup includes vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Kit Sikor, bassist Morgan Jahing, drummer/mandolinist Jerry Pentecost, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Harris, Corey Units and Mike Via. Recently, I spoke with Secor for a 20-minute phone interview. Below are edited excerpts.

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Ketch, in an age when digital music is such a huge thing, what is the enduring allure of rooted hand music, and the gentle music it plays?

Oh, I think folk music serves as a reminder to people that we are all musicians, that we are all artisans and creators of American music. We may not do it in our profession, or even in our daily life or even as amateurs. But looking back in your family, you are sure to find a violinist, guitarist, harmonica player or pianist. No matter what language you were brought up to speak, what color you are, what religion you belong to, what part of Alabama you are from, you will find it in your family tree, the musician who contributed to American music, and bands like We serve as important centerpieces to remind people that they are American sound makers and creators.

The “Bombs Away” track from the new album has some quick banjo picking there. Have you or have you ever had any appreciation for a rock and roll shredder, given the dexterity and speed required for this type of guitar playing?

Personally, I made a real conscious decision when I was 18 and felt kinda sick of prostrating to my guitarists, the kind of rock and roll baptized as a musician. And I decided that I would begin my love and idealization of the violin and banjo players. To me, they were twice the rock stars of the shredder on TV. They were playing fiercely. They may have dealt with snakes earlier that day, and now they’re on stage. So I think motel room smashing is an amateur thing. I’d rather see someone roll their eyes back and talk to God with their instruments.

They say imitation is a sincere form of flattery. Have you guys found the case when roots music, which has been doing the Old Crow Medicine Show for so long, became a sort of career choice, with the Americana music trend starting a decade or so ago?

Yeah, I mean, I think it was really cool when the Mumford boys (and boys) said, “Do you wanna go play in the yard?” which was sweet. I often felt like we were good enough artists to do any of these things as Old Crow. But the way our lead in Nashville worked was that we started at the street corner, and I think if we’d made a deal earlier and got on TV sooner, maybe that’s how we would have gotten into the mainstream. something.

But our journey, you know, you can’t change anything from it. We got to places like the Ryman (Auditorium) in Nashville and big theaters across the country, and then helped pass the torch to artists who were ready to go into some kind of world. We are globetrotters and Old Crow. We play all over the world. But, you know, just like you know (the legendary “Negro League” baseball player) Satchel Page wasn’t in the World Series.

I think it was like 2012 when Old Crow Medicine won the band’s first Grammys. That was a decade or so in your career. Do you think getting a Grammy meant more than that? As if you had won earlier, you probably would have enjoyed a punk rock attitude like, “I don’t care about that kind of thing.”

Yes, of course. Being kind of past the age of blind ideologies and loyalties, rather than being a father and, you know, a conscious listener and an engaged advocate and an advocate for the community allowed us to have the success we started in our twelfth year, which was kind of the beginning of a new chapter in which we’ve become so wonderful.

Then Darius (Rocker) cut the wagon wheel, and a whole bunch of things started happening to us a little over a decade later. And there were two important things to that. First, we needed to have a lineup that might want to deal with the pressures of success consistently. Which means that Crater (Fuqua, formerly a multi-instrumentalist at Old Crow) discovered a sobriety and, you know, parted ways with the founding members long ago, although it was really hard and painful, it helped us be a team ready for what we had Destiny, I think.

You just mentioned “Wagon Wheel”. What are your thoughts on that you helped create a song that has penetrated the world so far… Besides being a hit song, the cover bands play this song a lot. Were you aware of how covered this song is in bars and stuff?

Well, I guess I’m not aware of how much it’s covered in rails. I’m a pretty low tech person, but I know they have this thing where you can Google whatever you care about, and it will give you an alert every time it’s mentioned anywhere on the internet. So I’d be curious if I could put that into some sort of app for tapes. [Laughs]

But the thing is, bars aren’t really going to cover it because I’ll also have to take part in group gatherings of young people and marketing companies for farmers. And I’m going to have to add a whole bunch of, you know, like sleepovers and a whole bunch of other places where “Wagon Wheel” is performed. Because it’s not just rods. And it’s not just on the radio with Darius, his version, and it’s not just a Bob Dylan bootleg float or an Old Crow version. It’s one of those songs that just needed to be a part of the American canon, I guess like “Oh! Susanna.” That’s what I loved as a kid. I thought “Oh! Susanna” was shit.

The Old Crow Medicine Show performs tonight at the Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, Alabama. Supporting works include Aaron Lee Tasgan, Jaime White, and Little and the Giants. Showtime is 4pm and tickets are $24 and up (plus fees) via axs.com. More information at Crowmedicine.com.