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Penn's Peak Old Crow Medicine Show not your average cowboys

  • Danielle Fox/TIMES NEWS Bluegrass band, Old Crow Medicine Show performed a sold-out show on Thursday night at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
    Danielle Fox/TIMES NEWS Bluegrass band, Old Crow Medicine Show performed a sold-out show on Thursday night at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
Published July 27. 2013 09:03AM

Underneath chandeliers made out of tiered mason jars instead of crystals, good ol' boys, Old Crow Medicine Show took the stage at Penn's Peak Thursday night with fiddles, banjoes and harmonicas in hand.

Not strangers to the Lehigh Valley, the bluegrass Americana musicians first visited Penn's Peak back in July of 2010.

Since then, their CDs sales have hit over 800,000, the band won a Grammy for "Best Long Form Video" and their single, "Wagon Wheel," went platinum in May after selling over 1,000,000 copies.

Yet, neither success nor time has shaken the boys from their roots.

The honkey-tonkers still sound like they did when they were just boys busking on a street corner in Boon, North Carolina around 15 years ago. There, they were first discovered by blind bluegrass legend, Doc Watson, who launched the band's career and enabled them to make the move to Nashville, Tennessee.

Far from Tennessee, the boys seemed right at home in Jim Thorpe.

"When you come to Pennsylvania and you play in an old hall like (Penn's Peak), you just kinda have to take a moment, step back and play a couple songs like they once was done and still is done," said founding member Ketch Secor.

Reiterating a similar thought again later on the show, Secor said, "When you come to Coal-mining PA, you got to sing a dirty, coal mining song," before the band played "Methamphetamine" from their album "Tennessee Pusher."

"Methamphetamine" is about the drug the song is named for and includes lyrics as "Cause when it's either the mine or the Kentucky national guard / Um, I'd rather sell him a line than to be dying in the coal yard."

Old Crow Medicine Show is known for their authentic, old-timer sound and lyrics with deep social-consciousness.

The song the band chose to open Thursday night's show, "Carry me back" was inspired by Virginia's state song, "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny." The band's song was written from the viewpoint of a young Virginia boy fighting and dying in the Civil War.

Another song, "Levi," from the same album, "Carry Me Back," talks about Lieutenant Levi Barnard, a Virginia boy killed by a suicide bomber in 2009.

Clad in suspenders, plaid shirts, blue jeans and boots, band members: Secor, Critter Fuqua, Chance McCoy, Cory Younts, Gill Landry, Morgan Jahnig and Kevin Hayes look, themselves, to be a bunch of regular guys. You can almost picture them sitting around their grandma's kitchen table, eating peach cobbler.

It's not until they are armed with their artillery of bluegrass instruments like the Guitjo and an upright bass that you know these aren't your average cowboys. When they are stomping and scuffing their boots to the rhythm they are picking out on the banjo, the sound they put out is as Secor put it "pure Amish" in the most rock-and-roll way possible.

Old Crow Medicine Show was joined on Thursday by the opening band, Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys. Mead is formerly the lead singer of BR549 and is as Secor put it, an infamous "Honky-Tonk Hero." Old Crow Medicine Show invited the band back to the stage to play again during the show and the encore.

Yet, the song the crowd went craziest for wasn't part of the encore. When the fiddle struck up the chords for the platinum hit, "Wagon Wheel," screams, claps and knee slaps followed shortly after and as fan Chris Swierzek put it,

"Old Crow lived up to all expectations tonight."

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