September 25, 2008

Band’s Latest CD Laments America’s Problems


By DeAnne M. Bradley


OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW delivers a "snapshot of 2008" on its latest album, says singer and fiddler Ketch Secor.

"Tennessee Pusher," out in stores this week, follows the themes of addiction, affliction and survival over harmonicas, banjos and slide guitars.

When you listen, Secor wants you to picture yourself "down by the Greyhound Bus Station in Norfolk - like maybe around Terminal B over by the Dumpsters, maybe having a cigarette with a dude named Shorty." To Secor, that's "real American stuff."

We called Secor at his Nashville, Tenn., home to chat about the new album and his local ties. The bluegrass band will headline the Sunrise to Sunset Acoustic Music Festival on Sunday at Town Point Park in Norfolk.

Secor , 30, grew up in the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia. His parents went to Virginia Wesleyan College , and he remembers vacationing in Virginia Beach.

Now, Newport News is one of his favorite spots.

"When you think about the old days, that was the place where the jazz clubs were and the liquor bars."

After recording two albums in Nashville, the band ventured to Hollywood to record its latest. "It was great to be in a place that was full of artistic content where people were all thinking and doing and acting out dreams."

Seeing big-time artists was fun, too. "Down the hall was Jessica Simpson making her country record, and I would see her in the hallway, and down from there was Billy Bob Thornton making a roots record, and then the L.A. Philharmonic making the film score to the new Coen brothers movie. "

The band is known for lamenting about society's ills. "I Hear Them All," a single from the band's 2006 release, "Big Iron World," pays homage to the blanket of problems in America.

"I hear the crying of the hungry in the deserts where they're wandering / Hear them crying out for heaven's own benevolence upon them / Hear destructive power prevailing," Secor sings over mid- tempo strings.

"A lot of people are doing well, but most of us are feeling some kind of pinch." The new album is full of moments about current issues, but there are a few happy moments, including "some rambling hobo kind of music" and a song about Martin Luther King Jr.

"I don't think that I can sing a song about Dr. King and not think about Barack Obama , but then again, I couldn't sing a song about Barack Obama and not think about Douglas Wilder ," Secor said.

DeAnne Bradley, (757) 222-3897, [email protected]

if you go

What Sunrise to Sunset Acoustic Music Festival

When 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday (Old Crow Medicine Show at 6:45 p.m.)

Where Town Point Park, downtown Norfolk

Free, 441-2345 or

Originally published by BY DEANNE M. BRADLEY.

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