Next months Old Crow Medicine Show will make another appearance at the Granada Theater supporting their latest album Tennessee Pusher. I recently caught up with Old Crow frontman Ketch Secor and asked him a few questions. If you haven't witnessed a show by Old Crow you're missing out on one of the best shows around. The band will be at the Granada on May 6. You need to get down there and witness the tent revival that is their show.
Bona Fide Darling: The sound on Tennessee Pusher is a little different from the sound on your previous albums, was that a natural progression or was it the way Don Was led you in the studio?
Ketch Secor: The biggest difference is the originality of material. Having recorded so many traditional, old-time, country and blues songs, we found we required a different arrangement for this new batch. The addition of Jim Keltner brought out the rock n roll in us and the rest just fell in place naturally.
BFD: How did you guys hook up with Don Was? He's a pretty legendary producer.
KS: He called us up out of the blue one day and asked who was making our next record and if it could be him.
BFD: I really like your version of Woody Guthrie's "Deportee" on the Songs of America compilation. ?I think it's an interesting choice considering the way a lot of American's feel about immigration these days, especially here in Texas. Did you choose to contribute that song or were you asked to cover that song specifically?
KS: I enjoyed making my Bajo Sexto debut on that recording. Critter, a South Texas native, has been playing Tejano Accordeon for years and we enjoyed incorporating some Conjunto flair into the track. You know Woody Guthrie never recorded this one, it was dug up when he was deep in the throws of Parkinsons and first cut by Judy Collins. Nashville is a city of immigarants and they are a rich addition to the cultural fabric of our city. So I particularly enjoyed making a stand for solidarity with this song.
BFD: I've spoken to you and Morgan after a few shows and I know that you guys have some interesting choices in cover songs you like to play, like "Purple Rain" and "Soul Rebel." ?Is there any chance you guys will bust out either one or both of those gems when you play the Granada Theater here in Dallas? Is there also a possibility you guys will play "Silver Dagger?" I'm just going to go on record now and request those songs, please.
KS: There's so many great songs that nobody's singing. There's a whole generation of kids unexposed to the richness of the body of American music. "Silver Dagger" we don't play much anymore but we played "Soul Rebel" last night. Lately though it's been a lot of Bowie for our cover choices.
BFD: Tennessee Pusher has been your most successful album to date. ?Do you feel it's due to the exposure from constant touring or more of a tip of the hat to the music itself?
KS: Actually, OCMS far outsold Pusher, but we're still selling the new album steadily. Bands can't count on record sales anymore and we put most of our efforts into being a touring band.
BFD: Your performances are usually just you guys playing two sets with an intermission in the middle. ?Is this how you guys have always performed? Will you still do your shows that way even with Sara Watkins opening up for you guys?
KS: I think it was Dave (Rawlins) and Gillian (Welch) who taught us the beauty of two sets. Everyone likes and intermission, it gets awful thristy on the dance floor.
BFD: How did you guys land the opening slot for Dave Matthews? ?I would think your music fits in pretty well with his crowd, are you looking forward to hangin' with Dave for a few weeks and getting exposed to a new audience?
KS: Dave, Critter and I are all non-native Virginians. He bartended at the only place that served minors so we've crossed paths a time or two before. It's really a thrill to get to play in front of so many people and to impart upon his fans our brand of music.
BFD: I read an article a while back that called "Wagon Wheel" a new addition to the American standard songbook. ?Do you look at that song as a blessing or a curse in terms of having to play it every night. ?Have you ever gotten to the point where Radiohead was at with their song "Creep" when they refused to play it--is that something you've ever considered?
KS: It's a joy to have a big song that the people sing around the fire and play at their parties, weddings and graduations. I knew when I wrote it I'd be singing it 'til I was dead.
BFD: As much as you guys tour, do any shows in particular stand out to you as a great show or a bad show? ?Come to think of it, have you guys ever been booed?
KS: We were booed a lot during the 2001 Robert Earl Keen tour. Floridians have thrown bottles and stolen instruments. We've had some terrible shows, but not in a while.
KS: Rock on Big "D," look alive the Crows are comin'!
MP3: Old Crow Medicine Show - Soul Rebel (Bob Marley cover)