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Monday, June 22, 2015

Old Crow Medicine Show

Band brings brand of ‘snake oil’ to Strand

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Medicine shows flourished in the American Old West era with some continuing up until World War II. They derived from the European mountebank shows and usually featured a “host,” often purporting to be a doctor. The shows basically existed to sell elixirs that the “doctor” claimed to be cure-alls, often referred to disparagingly as “snake oil.” Entertainment supported the sales pitch and usually included acrobats, magic, comedy and musical acts.

Though all they are selling is superior musicianship, great vocals and exceptional songs sometimes with a little humor thrown in for good measure, takes their name from such historic productions but leans more toward contemporary/folk/bluegrass music as their calling card.

Old Crow Medicine Show will bring their artistry at 7:30 p.m. June 28 to the stage of Shreveport’s historic Strand Theatre. Tickets are available online at www.thestrandtheatre.com or by calling the box office at 226-8555.

The group was co-founded by multiinstrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua, who have been friends since the seventh grade in Harrisonburg, Va. In addition, the band now consists of: Kevin Hayes/guitjo and banjo; Chance McCoy/guitar, fiddle, banjo and vocals; Cory Younts/mandolin, keyboards, drums and vocals; and Morgan Jahning/upright bass.

In addition to vocals, Secor plays banjo, harmonica and fiddle. He is also a prolific songwriter who can actually claim a very, very rare honor in being able to legitimately claim a hit song co-written with the iconic Bob Dylan, not known for co-writing.

The story of Secor’s Dylan co-write is an interesting journey that began with a song on a Dylan bootleg and culminated with the song “Wagon Wheel” recorded not only by Old Crow Medicine Show but also made into a major country hit by former Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker.

Co-founder Fuqua returned from London many years ago in possession of a bootleg recording of Dylan. On this bootleg was a song “fragment” that Secor developed into what became the song “Wagon Wheel.”

“Unfortunately, I never got to meet or even actually speak to Bob Dylan. The negotiations conducted that allowed me to work on this song were handled through our respective publishers. Still, I am a lifelong Dylan fan, so it is a great honor to have my name on a song with such an extraordinary talent as Bob Dylan. The fact that it became a big hit for Darius Rucker is just icing on the proverbial cake,” Secor said.

The band got its start busking (performing on the streets) in the northeastern United States and Canada and eventually wound up in Boone, N.C., where they caught the ear of folk legend Doc Watson, who signed the band to play at his famous MerleFest event. This helped to launch their career to the next level, and the band soon relocated to Nashville, where they now are headquartered. There they scored a residency at the hallowed Grand Ole Opry, where they entertained crowds between Opry shows.

In the ensuing 15 years since their fortuitous yet humble beginnings, Old Crow Medicine Show has continued to tour worldwide selling more than 800,000 albums in the process. They have become frequent guests on the renowned “A Prairie Home Companion” and play such prestigious festivals as Bonnaroo, Coachella, and the Newport Folk Festival.

“I like to think of our music as one foot in folk and one foot in country, or maybe as a rock and roll band with acoustic instruments,” Secor said.

On Sept. 17, 2013, Old Crow Medicine Show received the treasured honor of induction into the historic Grand Ole Opry. Other highlights from the year included winning the Grammy Award for “Best Long Form Music Video” for the film “Big Easy Express” and having their nowclassic single, “Wagon Wheel,” receive the RIAA’s Platinum certification for selling more than 1 million copies.

Old Crow Medicine Show now has five studio albums to their credit. The band’s newest album, “Remedy,” released by ATO Records and produced by Ted Hutt, represents a further expansion of their sound and artistry. Expect to hear selections from “Remedy” and other releases when they take the Strand stage this month.

–Karl Hasten

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