Old Crow Medicine Show’s Volunteer

By Brian Rock

Old Crow Medicine Show celebrates their 20th anniversary with the release of their latest album, Volunteer. Within the first three seconds of the lead song, “Flicker & Shine,” it’s clear that they haven’t lost a step as they come out as fast and furious as a Galax fiddler on speed. Part Bluegrass and part Irish jig, the song encapsulates the joy and energy that OCMS is famous for. Singing, “All together we fall together. We ride together, we’re wild together. We band together, we stand together;” they testify to the bonds of friendship and musicianship that have kept them going so well for so long.

Playing with as much frenetic energy as a hurricane on the Outer Banks, OCMS unleashes a Bluegrass storm on songs like “A World Away,” “Dixie Avenue,” “Shout Mountain Music,” “Elzick’s Farewell,” and “The Good Stuff.” With touches of Cajun, Bakersfield, and even Ragtime, the band manages to make each track shine in its own light. And of course, it wouldn’t be an OCMS album without their trademark, laugh-out-loud, humor. On “The Good Stuff,” they bring the funny, “I might just go out on a bender, get high and fight, and need a public defender. Hey man – we want the good stuff!”

But there’s also a serious side to Old Crow Medicine Show. And when they do slow down the tempo a bit, it makes the songs stand out like stars on a Blue Ridge Mountain night. On “Homecoming Party,” they relate the toll of life on the road. In whispered tones they sing, “She must’ve left the light on, I’ll just slip into the bed and let it burn. And when our bodies touch, I pull away and not disturb her, even though I long for love so much it hurts.” Although similar in theme to their first breakout hit, “Wagon Wheel,” after twenty years on the road, this song is more poignant and self-reflective.

And the ballad, “Look Away,” is a stirring tribute to the South where, “The singing river flows, and it knows every name of a thousand years of footsteps tracing its wide domain.” It’s also a defiant rebuke to the politicians and media talking heads who continually denigrate it. Singing, “See the sign on the cross, saying ‘Brother ain’t you heard – that this is the land where salvation ain’t a dirty word’,” OCMS makes clear that values are more important than trends and political correctness.

But OCMS aren’t preaching a message. And they’re not your grandfather’s Bluegrass. With their high-octane rhythms and irresistible call and response choruses, they are a pig-pickin’ party band extraordinaire. Or to put it in their own words, Old Crow Medicine Show’s Volunteer is simply “The Good Stuff!”  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

Comments are closed.