Photo By Todd V. Wolfson
Old Crow Medicine ShowMother Egan's, Friday, March 19
There's a rising tide of young string bands these days, acts that eschew drums and favor acoustic instruments, relying on fiddle, banjo, Dobro, harmonica, and stand-up bass. One of the best is Nashville's Old Crow Medicine Show. On their just-released self-titled debut, they demonstrate an ability to play fast and loose with old-time music, yet with a healthy respect for the traditional path they've chosen. Live, it's even faster, though the sound system at Mother Egan's never really got loud enough to match their lithe exuberance. The band's unpolished edges likely explain the large number of Split Lip Rayfield T-shirts in the crowd. Old Crow mixed traditional tunes with songs from Mance Lipscomb and Leadbelly, added some well-conceived originals, and the result was a briskly paced set that had a good-sized crowd whooping, dancing, and disappointed the set had to end. Not all of it was rough 'n' rowdy however. There were moments of laid-back beauty, when the quintet played bluegrass straight, high, and lonesome. There was also an original ballad near the end of the performance that sounded like a combination of labelmate Gillian Welch (Welch's partner David Rawlings produced their disc) and Harvest
-era Neil Young sweet, mellow, and haunting. All told, OCMS exhibited a fusion of youth, harmonies, chops, and spirit that, if it continues and expands in a natural way, will surely make their future something to keep an eye on.