Old Crow Medicine Show

The Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver BC, September 28

Old Crow Medicine ShowThe Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver BC, September 28
Photo: Kim Jay
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There is something untouchable about Old Crow Medicine Show. The latest inductees to the Grand Ole Opry, their classic musicianship and multi-instrumentalist members make music look easy. It's as if the half-dozen instruments each member plays were part of their co-ordination and cognition from birth. The best part is that the former buskers, discovered by the great bluegrass legend Doc Watson in Boone, North Carolina, are still getting better.

The latest Old Crow incarnation blew away the crowd at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre. After remaining motionless on stage until fans erupted into a frenzy, Old Crow opened with the stomping harmonica blues of "Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer" from their ninth record, Remedy.

Old Crow are a musician's band. The atmosphere was the best Canadian approximation of the Ryman Theatre, with a mixed bag of old-time string country music fans through to young jam aficionados and any number of hillbilly buskers.

Among the highlights was a story about how Darius Rucker's recording of Old Crow's song "Wagon Wheel" was a big hit on country radio. Ketch Secor, the fiddle, harmonica, banjo and guitar player and vocalist quipped about how difficult it was to get a "good" song on country charts these days. Then, Secor introduced a new unfinished song that Bob Dylan gifted the band to finish writing, with "…37 years between the pen strokes". The band launched into "Sweet Amarillo," which could have been a straight cut from Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

Remedy featured prominently in the set list along with old hits like "James River Blues" and "Cocaine Habit." The band also ventured into some Canadiana, covering Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds." The banter was researched, albeit a little generic, with a lot of haphazardly understood references to Kokanee and Molson Ice, but overall Old Crow Medicine Show have a very strong stage presence and aren't afraid to show off.

With all their recent success and recognition, who knows what's next for Old Crow Medicine Show. Judging by this show, it's difficult to fathom that these extraordinarily talented musicians could actually get better at their instruments.

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