OCMS in AP
Rocking bluegrass ensemble Old Crow Medicine Show brought their current tour through Jersey for a stop Wednesday (July 21) at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and we were there to bring you the sights from the show. Click ahead to check out photos from the stellar night, and scroll down to check some Metromix staffers' thoughts on the show.
Alex Biese: Judging by the ecstatic reaction of the crowd which packed the Stone Pony in Asbury Park for last night's performance by Old Crow Medicine Show, it doesn't matter what state, what decade or even what century you happen to be living in -- American roots music, when performed with heart and energy by exemplary musicians such as these, will never die.
Since 2007, I've had the priveledge of seeing the guys in Old Crow three times in three different states, and last night was the most liberated, the most confident and the most rocking the band has ever been. Most of their somber numbers, such as "Tennessee Pusher'' and "Greatest Hustler of All,'' were nowhere to be found; instead, this was a foot-stompin', hard rockin' good time that few in attendance will forget any time soon.
Whether they were plowing their way through jaw-dropping displays of old-timey musicianship ("Reuben's Train'' and "Hard to Tell'' were particular standouts) or leading the audience in raucous and moving sing-alongs to tried-and-true OCMS classics such as "Wagon Wheel'' and "I Hear Them All,'' the six men on stage had the crowd in the palm of their hand all night, even before the surprise Springsteen cover ("Fire'').
While they first made their name as stellar bluegrass revivalists, the guys in Old Crow showed last night that they still have old-timey soul, but they've added rock 'n' roll heart to the mix, and the results are stunning.
Jeanne Crump: Live music has become a commodity, with thousands of new bands forming every hour, making a tour circuit out of, well, almost any property that will accommodate a few amps and extension cords. So it was absolutely refreshing to see Old Crow Medicine Show perform their down-home folk tunes live, which is quickly separating them from any other show in today's market.
Jamming with six different string instruments on stage-including a banjo and guitjo, the Tennesee-based band gave me a galvanizing chill. Looking around the crowd it was exhilarating to see a fan base so incredibly satisfied with every live song. I can honestly say there was not one performance that didn't fully capture my attention.
The band's performance progressed to the very end -- the boys on stage were strumming harder (evidence being four broken strings through the course of the show) and the floors shook with heavy stomping feet. As sweat was pouring off their faces the group played as musicians should: with impeccable instrumentation and soulful singing.
Graelyn Brashear: Before Wednesday, I had never seen the boys of Old Crow live, and their showmanship blew me away. Wide-eyed guitarist Willie Watson vibrated all over the stage, breaking strings and coming unplugged from his amp and more than once collapsing to writhe, still strumming, on the stage. Ketch Secor (who probably has the best name in showbusiness) wailed on his harmonicas and fiddled so energetically that even his jeans were soaked with sweat by the end of the second set.
Secor is a Denville native, and the crowd roared with appreciation when he dropped Jersey references. Best of all was when he introduced the sunny, charming "Caroline" as a song he wrote for a girl from Morristown. When he launched into the first line, "You were born at St. Clare's hospital," I couldn't help turning around to my fellow reviewers and yelling, "I never knew he meant that St. Clare's!"
The show was one of the best live performances I've ever experienced, and some credit has to go to the fans that packed the Pony. I hail from south of the Mason Dixon line, and I wouldn't have expected to see a Jersey crowd so electrified by Appalachian tunes. Old Crow's brand of music -- not roots-style, not folk-based, but real, authentic old-timey bluegrass -- is meant to be enjoyed that way, with throngs of singing, clapping, foot-stomping fans egging on the musicians as they saw and strum their way to an exhausted finale. I saw nothing but grins when, after two encores, the sweaty crowd poured out onto the street. Good on you, New Jersey.