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Old Crow Medicine Show

A review of one of ETSU’s most successful shows yet

By Kenneth Medley
On April 30, 2014

  • Old Crow Medicine Show left the crowd awe-struck this past Sunday when they paid a visit to ETSU for the annual spring concert. Kenneth Medley

Old Crow Medicine Show came to ETSU and played to a crowd of an estimated 4,600 people in the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center.
Coming out in force from the beginning of the show, the band took immediately to the stage with instruments in hand and never put them down. The crowd responded with enthusiasm throughout the entire show and although not every person knew every song, there was at least one person that sang along to each.
It was a pleasure to see how musicians traverse from instrument to instrument, as Old Crow had more instrument changes per song than some musicians do in an entire show.
The front man, Ketch Secor, is credited as fiddle, harmonica, banjo and vocals, although there are two fiddles and banjos on stage at most times.
Almost all the members of the band are credited for two or more instruments and it shows on stage. The song transitions bring on a choreographed ensemble of stagehands carrying instruments on and off stage. This alone was impressive enough, but to watch Secor play a harmonica and banjo while dancing around stage then returning to the microphone to sing the lead vocals made you wonder how any one person could do so much live; the only explanation is that he and the rest of the band are creative geniuses when it comes to music.
The lighting for the show was pretty extravagant without being over the top; with lighting where and when it was needed to highlight or hide movement on stage. The best part of the lighting was the Mason jar chandeliers that appeared to be lit with candles, giving not only the moonshine lyrics credibility, but paying homage to the lineage of moonshining in East Tennessee.
The concert was a must-see for anybody that is a fan of music from the region.
If there was one complaint or one improvement that could be said, it was that there was feedback that was audible for most of one song by Old Crow.
The highlight of the show was of course "Wagon Wheel." Introduced by Secor saying, "they are singing about y'all all over the world Johnson City," which prompted immediate cheers from the crowd as every person stood up.
The opening act was Carolina Chocolate Drops who, in their own right, were impressive as well.
The front for this string band is Rhiannon Giddens whose voice was only matched by her outstanding fiddle playing and stage presence.
An apparent subtleness to the band played perfectly to their sound of not playing for entertainment but truly connecting on an emotional level to the lyrics.
The lighting for the Drops was not as flamboyant as some would imagine a Grammy Award-winning band to have but accented their sound and appearance perfectly.
The stage presence of Giddens clad in a red dress with lipstick to match lighted by a single spot light drew the audience into the soul that her voice emoted.
The crowd diversity was a great mix from students dancing in the isles to members of the community enjoying floor seating.
This was the first show that was completely open to the public at ETSU and the community showed up in force. Having the ability to give back to the community that has hosted ETSU since 1911 was, in at least one person's opinion, a good move.

 


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