A few short years ago, it would be difficult to fathom the rise of Americana and roots music in today’s ever-expanding music scene.
Since the conception of the genre, a blend of all things dipped in folk, rock, blues gospel, country and bluegrass, it has blazed many trails that include the formation of the Americana Music Association and its own category with the Grammy Awards in 2009.
Before torchbearers Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers hit the national stage during recent years, bringing the genre more to the masses, Old Crow Medicine Show was holding rank on the scene and having a great time rolling through the states.
“Ten years ago there were a couple of bands doing what we were doing, but now you can’t throw a rock that you don’t hit someone with an upright bass,” original OCMS member Critter Fuqua.
“Not that we started it but we were a link in the chain,” Fuqua admitted. “I think we influenced it like others did before us. I’m glad we had a hand in bringing back the traditional form of music.”
Needless to say, Old Crow is more than just a link in the roots music chain.
Getting their start in the late 1990s, Fuqua and founding member Ketch Secor’s relationship dates back to childhood as they’ve been friends since they were 13 years old growing up in Virginia.
The two have been apart in the last few years due to Fuqua’s five-year hiatus. He took time off in 2007 to go to school.
Playing with Secor from time to time during this span, Fuqua rejoined the group during the last part of 2011.
“It’s been great. It’s one of those life friendships that’s cosmic. Even in between we’d play some tunes. When we got back together it was like riding an old bike,” Fuqua said about the relationship with Secor.
It is this relationship, which helped them in the early days when they had landed themselves in New York then settled down to Boone, N.C.
During their time in Boone, they hit it big with an unexpected occurrence between a lady who saw the group playing for money on the streets outside of Boone Drug.
The lady in reference, brought back the legendary folk hero, Doc Watson, who scheduled them to play at MerleFest.
After this encounter, they’ve been in good company ever since.
Marty Stuart was instrumental in getting the group to the Opry stage, while others like David Rawlings have lent a hand in producing their first two albums.
“I feel real blessed to know those people and be influenced by them,” Fuqua said.
“It feels good to be among good people in general, not only musicians. When you get to Nashville, the people are the most down to earth and genuine people.”
The credentials of OCMS run deep, because they were part of the inaugural class of Bonnaroo in 2002 and have performed at the festival four times total.
They’ve also performed at MerleFest on multiple occasions along with Telluride Bluegrass Festival and once made a stop in Murfreesboro for Uncle Dave Macon Days.
“We played Uncle Dave Macon Days. It was a lot of fun. It’s local culture and local people. I really like the small festivals,” Fuqua said.
Last year, the group took part in a feat that was similar in fashion to a train ride across Canada which The Band, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy and others took part in 1970.
This time around, the parties involved were Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and OCMS.
Coined as the Railroad Revival Tour, the groups travelled together by train across the United States on a multi-day tour where they performed in different cities in route to New Orleans, La.
Fuqua, who was living in Texas during this time, was asked by Marcus Mumford if he wanted to join them on stage one night, and he took him up on the offer with the song “Take ‘Em Away” in Austin.
Filmmaker Emmett Malloy captured the tour in the documentary Big Easy Express, which screened earlier this year at the Nashville Film Festival.
With a successful year behind them, this year looks as if it will be an eventful one as well with a new album due out this month along with a tour kicking off at the same time.
Carry Me Back, the band’s fourth studio album, will be released on July 17 through ATO Records and was recorded in Nashville at Sound Emporium studios.
The new album, produced by Ted Hutt who has worked with Gaslight Anthem and Flogging Molly, has a focus on the songs and the way they are pieced together, Secor said.
“It’s a classic Crow album,” Fuqua noted about their new work.
They are also set to play The Woods at Fontanel in Nashville on July 28 with special guests on the bill, whereas The Lumineers and Milk Carton Kids will open in support on several dates.
“We used to play the Station Inn every month. The Nashville crowds are just as enthusiastic as any other crowd in the South and I like playing Nashville,” Fuqua added.
This time around, a familiar face in Willy Watson will be absent. He and the group parted ways months ago.
Along with Fuqua and Secor, the current lineup consists of Kevin Hayes, Morgan Jahnig, Gill Landry and Chance McCoy.
For more information on OCMS, visit crowmedicine.com.
Tickets for the show are on sale via Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com.