What looked like what was to be a dark and stormy night, weather-wise for the fans of Old Crow Medicine Show on Boston Harbor – soon became a glorious and rollicking hoedown for the ages. The weather was wonderful, as the Nashville-based quintet, led by the energetic and engaging Ketch Secor – tore through their twenty song set opening for one of the original outlaws of Country Music, Willie Nelson. Playing songs from their entire catalog, including 2004’s hit “Wagon Wheel” – OCMS came out of the gates running and never slowed down with their traditional banjo and fiddle infused Country jams.
With genuine excitement, Ketch Secor spoke to the audience, most of who were dancing in their seats or meandering into the aisles and said, “It’s wonderful to be here all the way up from Nashville, Tennessee. Now, let’s get out on the dance floor!” before launching into “Country Gal”. At one point during “Gal” most of the band lined up together and took part of a seemingly choreographed sidestep shimmy back and forth across the stage. Their fans ate it up. Secor impressed as he continued to engage with the audience, “We got a call from the Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson and he asked, how would you like to come up to Boston with me?” One could tell that his enthusiasm was quite sincere and after a round of applause the whole band turned to each other and played “Angel From Montgomery.”
Afterwards, Secor asked, “Can’t you smell Boston Harbor out there? Whew, it smells like a big clam roll!” The band then put down their instruments and huddled together around the center mic to sing “Barrett’s Privateers” – a capella. As amazing as most artists can be with respective instruments, whether it be a guitar, drums, piano – this vocal treat was a great reminder that the most beautiful instrument of all is one’s singing voice. OCMS picked up their instruments again and jammed through a few more tunes before proceeding to add fuel to the fire with a double dose of high-octane barnburners, “Carry Me Back” and “Fall On My Knees”. This gave the band another opportunity to whip the crowd into a frenzy and a shot to whoop it up with some more southern dance moves – much to the delight of their fans. Later on in the set, Mickey Raphael from Willie Nelson’s band – joined OCMS for “Tell It To Me”. The addition of Raphael’s harp playing was a highlight as he added fills and a killer.
Without missing a step, the band began playing their breakout single, “Wagon Wheel” – a Bob Dylan throw away which more of today’s mainstream Country fans might credit to Darius Rucker (Hootie and the Blowfish). The audience was enthralled and this song in particular brought everyone out of their seats to sing along and shake what their mama gave them. The band finished off their set with “8 Dogs, 8 Nights” and received a standing ovation from the crowd. But they weren’t done. OCMS later appeared at the very end of the night to support Willie Nelson during the last song of his set, “I’ll Fly Away” – adding beautiful harmonies and togetherness that music tends to provide.
OCMS is a band not only great to listen to while playing live, but also to watch. They clearly thought about which songs would be best to perform and how to perform them. They were tight on stage, but just loose enough to still have fun while they were workin’ it. Their genuine appreciation for being up on stage was easy to read from their smiles an audience interaction throughout their set. Judging by the population at the venue, it would be easy to assume that most of the attendees went to see Willie Nelson initially. However, they surely left being quite impressed by Old Crow Medicine Show and likely new fans of the band.