Old Crow Medicine Show is bringing their homespun sounds to the Jewel on Joachim. The cavalcade of Americana musicians have spent more than a decade fashioning an old timey sound mixed with lyrics that focus on everything from cocaine to heartbreak.
Their smash hit “Wagon Wheel” could be considered their most beloved tune. This single earned RIAA platinum status for more than 1,000,000 copies sold.
OCMS is preparing for the release of its eighth studio album, “Remedy.” Their fans are already getting a taste of this upcoming album through its first single “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer.”
As the group prepares to return to the Gulf Coast, Critter Fuqua (guitar/banjo/vocals) gave Lagniappe a preview of “Remedy” and a behind-the-scenes look into the world of these modern masters of Americana.
SC: There are a lot of bands out there with extensive catalogs of music. Sometimes, the mainstream wants to focus on one song, and then it creates this weird dynamic. Either people are introduced to the rest of a band’s repertoire, or they limit themselves to just one song. Old Crow Medicine Show has so many great songs, but it seems like some people limit themselves to “Wagon Wheel.” Does it ever get frustrating when all they want to hear it “Wagon Wheel,” or do you see it as a positive thing that at least people are listening to your music?
CF: I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. ‘Wagon Wheel’ has been great for us. I think more people know more about that song than the band. It’s a great song, and people are listening. When we do our stuff and write our songs, after it goes out in the world, there’s not much that we can control about it. I’m just glad that people like our stuff. Our fans like more than “Wagon Wheel,” of course.
SC: Old Crow was recently inducted into the Grand Ol’ Opry, which is a very high honor. What was that experience like?
CF: It was great. Mary Stuart brought us to the Opry for the first time in — I don’t know — 2000, I think. He also invited us to be members of the Opry, and of course, we said, “Yes.” It was a great experience. They really treat you right at the Opry. It’s just an honor to be a part of all those names that go back to Deford Bailey. It was kinda surreal like a dream.
SC: Let’s talk about the new album. The first cut that I’ve heard from it is “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer,” and it’s awesome. It’s one of those songs that show that you guys are bad boys in the Americana/Bluegrass scene. How do you guys come up with the lyrics and subject matter for such traditional sounding songs? Is it a goal?
CF: It just seems to come out of us. This Americana music or this old music or this traditional American or whatever you want to categorize it as is not really that old. Some of these original Americana songs are a couple of hundred years old, and at one time, they were new. People were writing what was current to them. So, all you gotta do is look around at what’s going on and different ideas. Then, you just write a song. It just seems to come out of us in a way that feels real vibrant and fresh.
SC: Tell me about some of the other songs on this album. What kind of stories and topics can we expect?
CF: It’s a pretty rockin’ Crow album. We’ve got conjugal trailers, and we got booze. We got cowboys. Shoot, we’ve got the whole gambit. I think this is a good Crow album.
SC: Just with those three things, it sounds like it’s going to be a party.
CF: Yeah, it’s gonna be a party! We’ve got some party stuff, and we’ve got some tearjerkers. We’ve got some nostalgia. I think we’ve got what our fans really like. So, I think this is gonna be a good one for them.
SC: Your last couple of albums has shot up to number one. Are there any nervous thoughts that maybe the public won’t like this one, or it won’t be as successful as the last two?
CF: Not for me personally, and I don’t think the band has them either. We just do what we do. That’s the reason why we’ve been successful. I think that if we start worrying about whether somebody will like it or not, then it jinxes us. If we do what we do, and if it moves us, and if we’re having a good time in the studio with writing and playing, then I know people are gonna like it. I never worry about whether someone will like it or not. I know our fans will like it. If it’s moving us, then it will move our fans. That’s the nature of it.
SC: You brought back Ted Hutt (Lucero, Dropkick Murphys) to produce “Remedy.” What does he bring into the studio that makes you want to continue working with him?
CF: He is the hardest working guy in the music industry. He is just a machine. He’s got an engineer, and they are such a team. He got a big sound out of this album. We recorded it here in Nashville, but we were over in Los Angeles where he lives. We were listening to the playbacks, and the music was just jumping out of the speakers. He’s got a magic touch, and we’ve really learned to trust him and his instincts, when it comes to making records. It’s great working with him. He’s definitely got talent.
SC: You’ve got a new album on the way and a ton of killer shows on the way at Red Rocks and on “Prairie Home Companion.” With the way life is now for Old Crow, what do you think about the early days when y’all were busking on the streets?
CF: We loved busking on the streets, but I’m glad that we don’t have to do that anymore. That’s something that you can do pretty sustainably, but busking on the streets takes an energy that I think that you have when you’re in your 20s. When you’re on the downside of 30 and been doing this a long time, it’s good to have steady work and hotels to stay in. It’s a trip to think about when we used to busk and the big venues we play now. It’s cool. I feel blessed and appreciative of the fans.