Though Old Crow Medicine Show are generally associated with North Carolina, where they were discovered busking outside a drug store in Boone, the band also known as O.C.M.S. are actually the product of two different areas of the Appalachians. Two of the band's five founding members, Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua, are from the east side the mountain (Harrisonburg, Virginia) while Kevin Hayes and former members Ben Gould and Willie Watson were from the fertile string music scene of Ithaca, New York. It was when Secor headed to Ithaca College — and brought Fuqua along for the ride — that the band got its start in earnest (and later found their big break in Boone).
Like many of their counterparts in modern string music, the members of O.C.M.S. are as influenced by the sounds of Guns ‘N’ Roses as by the songwriting of Doc Watson. It has been their ability to meld the classic melodies and storytelling style of the traditional string music with the energy and enthusiasm of classic rock 'n' roll that have made them so successful.
Now, with nine studio records to their credit, from 1998’s cassette recording, Trans:mission, to their award-winning 2014 set, Remedy, O.C.M.S. have been consistently at the leading and influential edge of modern string music. For newbies and fans alike, here’s an essential playlist that spans most of their career, ranges from covers of classics to their own songs, and includes the tune that not even Bob Dylan has our permission to cover.
Photo of OCMS by Crackerfarm.