Cory! There’s your lede. rtb and I were excited about seeing the Old Crow Medicine Show but had heard that Cory Younts was no longer playing with them, which was a disappointment. So when Ketch Secor looked at one of the musicians and said, “Cory,” rtb and I looked at each other and said, “Wha?”
If you don’t remember, Cory Younts used to perform with Justin Townes Earle. They had a great rapport and Cory amazed us with his virtuosity on several different instruments. There didn’t seem to be anything that he couldn’t play well. Justin and Cory had a falling out and Justin was dissing Cory at concerts but recently we’d heard that they were talking/playing.
Now since Cory is one of our musician boyfriends it was strange that neither of us recognized him. We were in the last row of the theater but still – it was Cory. rtb walked down to the front of the balcony to get a closer look but still couldn’t confirm if it was our Cory. She looked online and Wikipedia said he was still a member. I looked online and the Old Crow Medicine Show’s site didn’t list him as a member. But there are six members of OCMS and there were seven guys on stage. We knew it had to be our Cory.
Cory had been off playing mandolin for Jack White while White does his country act. But here he was with OCMS – playing mandolin, drums, keyboards, and singing. Only with Cory would that make him underutilized. We wanted to see him play harmonica, banjo, guitar, and fiddle also.
The night held several surprises. Next door to the Capitol Theater is a new bar called Garcia’s. When I went inside I saw that the small temporary bars in the lobby were gone and instead there was a wide entrance into Garcia’s. In addition to being able to hang out there before the show you could also download an app, where you can input your row and seat number and a waitress from Garcia’s will bring you drinks or food. I don’t think this war on American obesity is going too well.
The show was not sold out and the ushers told us we could change our seats if we wanted. I liked being in the last row because we could stand or sit without bothering anyone and we had the section pretty much to ourselves. On the walls various nature scenes were projected – wheat field, wildflowers, and a snow-capped mountain. Up in the ceiling were clouds. Small chandeliers hung from the stage.
Opener was Jonny Fritz, who used to be Jonny Corndawg. He still has the humor but in many ways it emphasizes the pain of a relationship ending as in “Shut Up,” “Have You Ever Wanted to Die?” and “All We Do is Complain.” There were good ole boy songs about drinking and driving and one-night stands but most had more poignancy than he’d shown when he was performing as Corndawg. With him was a great fiddle player named Josh. At the end he said the full name and again, rtb and I looked at each other. Josh Hedley used to play with Justin (one of the replacements for Cory). As rtb noted, this may have made for an awkward moment backstage since Josh had followed Justin’s lead in not making very nice comments about Cory from the stage. Josh also sang some and he’s got a great voice. There was a lovely moment when Fritz did a song about a dog and at the end Josh made the fiddle whimper like a little dog.
In between sets a DJ from WFUV came out. He explained that Old Crow Medicine Show is the band that influenced many others in the current American roots music revival. The members are from different parts of the South but met in NYC in 1998. Each musician is a standout. They share vocals although Secor leads the band. Musicians are Ketch Secor (fiddle, harmonica, banjo), Kevin Hayes (guitjo), Critter Fuqua (slide guitar, banjo, guitar), Morgan Jahnig (upright bass), Chance McCoy (guitar, fiddle, banjo), Gill Landry (slide guitar, banjo, dobro), and, of course, Cory Younts (mandolin, drums, keyboards).
One of the hardest working guys on stage was the roadie. It was a ballet – just as the band finished a song, he would walk onstage with two or three instruments, switch the musicians out one at a time and walk off. Sometimes the new instrument was the same as the first. It allowed the musicians to keep on playing and not needing to tune between songs.
Besides the extraordinary musicianship, the band knows how to put a show. Fiddle players playing back-to-back. All musicians lined up at the lip of the stage or starting in a circle and then dancing around the stage. There were big cheers for “Caroline” and “Wagon Wheel.” Familiar songs included “Not Fade Away,” “C.C. Rider,” and a brilliant rendition of “American Girl” that was their closer. Secor’s fiddle played the ending guitar solo. One song inserted “This Land is Your Land” inside of it.
What a great show. It was high energy. It was rock and roll. It was country. It was American. It was love.
By Carene Lydia Lopez