The Central Park SummerStage hosts numerous dance, spoken word and music events throughout the summer. Monday night provided a perfect summer evening for some gritty foot-stomping bluegrass. Beer, wine, tasty snacks and a stage decorated with uneven lights in a chandelier created an intimate and friendly atmosphere for Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) and opening acts The Lumineers and The Milk Carton Kids.
There were so many reasons to attend this sold out show. Many had not seen the band with Critter Fuqua, a founding member who left five years ago to battle addiction. Some wanted to see the band without key member Willie Watson (replaced by Chance McCoy) who left to start a solo career. Others had only heard the new album “Carry Me Back” and even more have been long-time fans of the old timey ramblin’ band. This crowd was ready to move and shake. These guys are all excellent musicians not known for their improvisation but their ability to play with lots of heart and show their fans a good time.
After the Lumineers and The Milk Carton Kids successfully warmed up the crowd, OCMS took the stage in front of 5000 people and took everyone on a journey through back roads, country hills, potato fields, and wherever else one wished to wander. Leading off with “Carry Me Back” from their new album, they sang songs about raging rivers, loose women, and being high on methamphetamine. The show was solid and as a beautiful sunset formed to the west, everything fit as it should.
The encore is what blew people away. The band began with a beautiful “Hard to Love” and went sweetly into “I Hear Them All > This Land is Your Land > I Hear Them All” with The Milk Carton Kids. The entire crowd sang “This Land is Your Land” in unison with the acoustic guitars leading to charge; it was an incredibly magical moment. The Lumineers then joined the group and all 12 musicians on stage sang an awesome cover of Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Virginia”. Then, as many bands have been doing since the passing of Levon Helm, they played “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and ended with “I Shall Be Released” (Bob Dylan cover). The crowd went crazy and a feeling of folky family-ness washed over us all.
There is definitely something missing without former lead vocalist Willie Watson. He has a unique grittiness that cannot be replicated, but Chance McCoy was so entertaining to watch on stage. He will definitely continue to hold his own as the band continues. This band is evolving, changing, and are showing their fans an awesome version of themselves. Highly recommend seeing this band if they come to your area.
By Sam Rosenberg
Kevin Hayes – Guitjo and Vocals
Critter Fuqua – Slide Guitar, Banjo, Guitar and Vocals
Ketch Secor – Fiddle, Harmonica, Banjo and Vocals
Morgan Jahnig – Upright Bass
Chance McCoy – Guitar, Fiddle, Banjo, Vocals
Gill Landry – Slide Guitar, Banjo and Vocals
Carry Me Back
Big Time in the Jungle
We Don’t Grow Tobacco
Mississippi Saturday Night
James River Blues
Sewanee Mountain Catfight
Take ’em Away
Ain’t It Enough
Cocaine Habit/Tell it to Me
Hard to Love
I Hear Them All / This Land Is Your Land *
Sweet Virginia **
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down **
I Shall Be Released **
*with The Milk Carton Kids
**with The Milk Carton Kids and The Lumineers
Check out this video of “Caroline” by Old Crow Medicine Show: