Hoopla

Old Crow Medicine Show is the life of the party

New-folk band visits Paramount Theatre Saturday

Old Crow Medicine Show, which started busking on street corners in 1998 New York state and up through Canada, now has two Grammys and has been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2013. The Nashville-based neo-folk band is coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night (6/30). (Courtesy photo: DANNY CLINCH)
Old Crow Medicine Show, which started busking on street corners in 1998 New York state and up through Canada, now has two Grammys and has been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2013. The Nashville-based neo-folk band is coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night (6/30). (Courtesy photo: DANNY CLINCH)

A common lament for young and even middle-aged recording artists is that they missed out on the golden era.

“I’m one of those people,” Old Crow Medicine Show vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ketch Secor said by phone from Cincinnati. “I’m late to the party.”

Secor was a child of the ’90s, who did experience a Grateful Dead show and like millions, purchased Nirvana’s classic “Nevermind.”

“Despite not being born earlier, I guess I did what I could,” Secor said. “But at times it still bothers me. It’s like when I saw Willie Nelson in Charlotte recently and he was gasping for air. I’m late to the party.”

But Secor and his bandmates are the life of the party when the neo-folk act performs. They will be coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids on Saturday night (6/30), and tickets are getting scarce.

Old Crow is nine albums in and counting. “We try to do something different every time we make an album,” Secor said.

After Old Crow Medicine Show crafted 2017’s “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde,” the adventurous band followed with “Volunteer,” which dropped in April.

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“Volunteer” was produced by the celebrated Dave Cobb, who captures the intensity of Old Crow Medicine Show live in the studio — which is difficult to accomplish. Cobb also helped push the band to expand on its sound without abandoning the charm of its string music.

“I believe that if you hire a producer, you should listen to the producer,” Secor said. “When I produce someone, I hope they listen to me. We not only listened to Dave, we followed what he said to the letter of the law. He brings a real looseness to the recording process. What he made was a distillation of what Old Crow Medicine Show is about.”

Hats off to Cobb, since he adds some teeth to the Old Crow Medicine Show, which also includes vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Critter Fuqua, vocalist/bassist Morgan Jahnig, fiddler/guitarist Chance McCoy and percussionist Cory Younts, in the studio.

Impressive considering that the hilarious program “Portlandia” mocks the NPR audience during an episode, in which laid-back music fans are tailgating before an Old Crow Medicine Show concert. “It’s hard-core soothing,” Portlandia actor-writer Carrie Brownstein cracked while describing Old Crow’s sound.

“Somebody told me about that show,” Secor said. “But I don’t watch (‘Portlandia’). I don’t know what it means. I don’t get the context of it. But anytime Old Crow is mentioned in the mass media, we’re like, ‘That’s so cool,’ because we’re not the kind of band to get on the radio. We’ve been fortunate with NPR. They’ve championed us, but that’s about as far as it goes.

“I wasn’t looking to become this big star. I just wanted a career as a musician and I wasn’t sure that would ever happen. I remember what it was like when I started out — I wasn’t sure it would work out.”

But Secor met the aforementioned Willie Nelson, who gave him hope.

“I’ll never forget when I came face to face with Willie,” Secor said. “I stood outside his bus, struggling to stand up straight. I was so messed up. He had words of inspiration for me. I asked him to listen to my tape and me made me feel like a man, and he made me feel like a musician. We both had a turquoise stone in our hats. Willie was 65 then and it makes me think. Maybe I’m not too late for the party after all.”

Recording artists, such as Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, have cited Old Crow Medicine Show as an influence.

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“That’s nice to hear,” Secor said. “Marcus is a brother from the road. All I can say is that Old Crow has been a conduit for country music since we started. We just want to continue on doing what we do best.”

If you go:

WHAT: Old Crow Medicine Show

WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday (6/30)

TICKETS: $29.50 to $47.50, Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com

ARTIST’S WEBSITE: crowmedicine.com/news

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