Old Crow Medicine Show, a Nashville-based old-time band that originally formed in Ithaca, rolled into Buffalo for the first time last weekend. During a recent interview, fiddler/vocalist/harmonica player Ketch Secor told me: "If you've got that many banjos on stage - and sometimes we have three or four - if you have harmonicas blowing and harmony singing and it sounds like Memphis 1927, well then it really might as well be." It was definitely Memphis 1927 in Buffalo on Friday; Old Crow rocked harder than any band I've ever heard.
This concert was the first experience I have ever had with this particular venue, the Town Ballroom, and Buffalo nightlife in general. Since becoming a diehard OCMS fan I have heard that the band puts on incredible shows; however, I did not expect the crowd would be as diverse as it was or as respectful as it was. There were college students dancing happily next to older people, all of them showing their appreciation with cheers, claps, and whistles as Old Crow blew through fan favorites such as "Tell It To Me", "Wagon Wheel", "Hard to Tell", "James River Blues", "Down Home Girl", "New Virginia Creeper", "CC Rider", "Tear it Down" and "Union Maid." The audience knew the words to almost every song and happily sang along throughout the whole night. In fact, the crowd
seemed to just be getting started as the band finished its last song. Such was the pounding and clapping after the band left the stage that it came back for two encores, Bob Dylan's "Lay, Lady, Lay" and another OCMS favorite "Caroline." Yes, Old Crow was definitely feeling the Buffalo love.
The Town Ballroom is an intimate venue and there didn't seem to be a bad sight line anywhere in the room. I was lucky enough to be standing against a railing that gave me a great view of the Old Crow boys doing their thing. It was like watching them playing in my living room, an illusion which their strong rapport with the crowd did nothing to dispel. Indeed, these musicians pour all their sweat into the music, only stopping for a 15-minute break before coming back to rock out even harder.
In the almost four years that I have been a fan of oldtime/ bluegrass/alt-country music I have noticed that it has a way of bringing people together like nothing else I've ever heard. There is a beauty to music with roots dating back 100 years, and it brings with it a magical energy. Old Crow has managed to harness this energy and bring a modern spirit to it so everyone listening can connect with it. You owe it to yourself to experience this first-hand. The next time Old Crow comes through our fair city get yourself down to wherever it is they are playing. May they have many happy returns.
Rachel Dobiesz will be a senior at Hamburg High School.