Old Crow Medicine Show turns 25, will perform soon at the Rose

Special guest performance by Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway.



Nashville-based Americana string band Old Crow Medicine Show will be pickin’ and a-grinnin’ soon at the Rose Music Center. The band is on tour to support its 2023 Grammy-nominated album, “Jubilee,” and to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary.

It will perform here July 9.

Special guest Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway will also be performing, following the release of Tuttle’s fourth studio album, “City of Gold” (2023), which won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards.

In May, Old Crow Medicine Show announced the return of founding member and multi-instrumentalist Christopher “Critter” Fuqua to their lineup after a four-year hiatus. Fuqua is best known as a songwriter and lead vocalist on Old Crow favorites like “Big Time in the Jungle” and “Take ‘Em Away.”

“My relationship with the band is a bit like a Saturn 5 rocket,” Fuqua said in a press release. “For whatever reason, I need to leave sometimes. I achieve an escape vector from the gravitational pull of Old Crow, then I’m off into space, orbiting, floating in zero gravity in my capsule. But I always seem to come around again. [...] The boys picked me up again. I’m so glad they did.”

Ketch Secor, co-founder and current frontman of Old Crow, met Fuqua in seventh grade in Harrisonburg, VA. The duo performed at open mics and busked on streets. They eventually met musicians Willie Watson, Kevin Hayes and Ben Gould and formed the first incarnation of Old Crow Medicine Show: an old-timey, alt-country folk outfit with a sound informed by punk rock and an aesthetic like a traveling jug band.

Old Crow landed its first big break in 2000 thanks to bluegrass legend Doc Watson inviting the band to play MerleFest, which relocated Old Crow to Nashville, TN. Since then there have been several studio records, live records, CMT Music Awards, CMAs, AMAs, Grammys, wagon wheels and fluctuations in members — leaving Secor, the fiddler frontman, as the only consistent and original member of the band.

“This line of work really magnifies your differences with people,” Secor said. “If you think you’re in a dysfunctional relationship, put yourself rolling in at about 83 miles per hour for about six million miles over 11 years and you’ll see just how dysfunctional it can get.”

But for Secor time heals wounds, and having Fuqua back on tour is a return to origins.

“In the earlier infancy of Old Crow, when Critter was in and out working through his stuff, I really missed him a lot,” Secor said. “I’m happy here in my mid-40s that Critter’s back but I’m also tapping on the shoulder of a kid at about 27 [who’s] glad Critter’s back, too.”

“Miles Away,” a single from “Jubilee,” saw the brief reunion of Old Crow and Willie Watson, who left the band in 2011 to embark on a solo career. The track, co-written by Secor and Molly Tuttle, poignantly explores a vague reconnection with an old friend after years of estrangement — an old friend who’s coincidentally carved a few more miles into his instrument.

“Jubilee” also has collaborations with Sierra Ferrell, and Mavis Staples on the final gospel track, “One Drop.”

“This is a gregarious act; it’s a choir, it’s a chorus,” Secor said. “I just love inviting people to join in. That’s what makes the music business go round: these collaborative efforts.”

On top of being the 25th anniversary of Old Crow, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the band’s biggest hit, “Wagon Wheel,” co-written by Secor (who wrote the verses) and Bob Dylan (who wrote the chorus more than 50 years ago).

“Wagon Wheel” is arguably the most ubiquitous song of the 21st century. It’s spawned famous covers (see: Darius Rucker, Against Me!, etc.) and some not-so-famous covers (see: open-mics across the country). The song is in the cultural lexicon, maybe even booting Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” as the first song people learn on the guitar.

The song was originally the 11th track, a sleeper, on Old Crow’s self-titled record. But after 20 years, it surpassed 16 million US sales and four billion radio plays.

“Last night, I sang it in Bend, Oregon, and there were all these children in the audience,” Secor said. “It was literally snowing in June. And these kids were willing to wait through inclement weather, and a whole canon of songs that they really did not know, to get the thing they wanted. To watch them wait and watch them get their sweet reward… it was a delight on both sides.”

Secor can think of 40 songs that he says are better compositions and worthier of being anthems. He also knows “Wagon Wheel” is like a hip flask of a good tonic, an elixir kind of a tune that makes you feel better if you need it.

But Old Crow Medicine Show also has an extensive catalog of folky bluegrass and Americana that is just as healing — worth enduring “Wagon Wheel” — to hear.

How to go

What: Old Crow Medicine Show with Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 9

Where: Rose Music Center at The Heights, 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights

Tickets: rosemusiccenter.com

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