Live Review

Old Crow Medicine Show @ the Electric Factory

Old Crow Medicine Show on July 24, 2018

Old Crow Medicine Show

So it seems Philadelphia really likes bluegrass. At last year's Philly Folk Fest there were multiple examples of bluegrass, newgrass, stringband, and whatever else kind of music you want to call it at play. Local as well as big name national bands, including Old Crow Medicine Show, were on hand to warm the hearts of their fans, make new fans, and put on some really great music. And by God it has been going on for years.

Here I am at one of Philadelphia’s long time, highly revered music venues, the Electric Factory. 

Tonight I am very pleased to be photographing the Old Crow Medicine Show. I have shot them a few times previously and really do enjoy their music. Shooting a full Old Crow concert I got to experience a lot more of who they are, what they do, and how they do it compared to a set at the Philly Folk Fest. I have one thing to say, WOW. Yes, I knew they were good and but just how good, WOW. This band is not only about the music, but the music comes first, they also put on a show, OK a Medicine Show. Their professionalism, musicianship, stage presence, sound, lights, everything is outstanding. Being in the photo pit and seeing what was going on off stage was enlightening. They set up like no crew I have seen. The sound guy on stage right, or left I never know, working with the instrument tech nailed it. The instrument tech all night tuning guitars and violins off to the side was so cool. He also joined the band on stage playing guitar.

But I digress. The music started off a bit slow with “Child of the Mississippi” from their new album Volunteer. Ok, I know it isn’t really slow but it picked up from there so you have to start somewhere. They scattered these new songs, “Shout Mountain Music”, “Elzick’s Farewell” , “A World Away”, “Old Hickory” and others from Volunteer throughout the show mixed with songs for earlier albums. Lots of high energy on “CC Rider”,“Take Em Away”, and “Wagon Wheel” form OCMS and “Alabama High Test”, and “ Motel In Memphis” from Tennessee Pusher. A very big hit of the night started off with “I Hear Them All” from Big Iron World followed immediately by a John Denver cover “Take Me Home, Country Roads” which turned into the biggest sing along all night. I think half the audience really felt like they were from West Virginia.

The three song encore started with “Stay All Night” which brought the Colter Wall band, who opened the show, to join them on stage. Then they covered the Dire Straits song “Walk Of Life” and finished with a flourish with the Norman Greenbaum hit “Spirit In The Sky” WOW! What a show.

Oh wait, remember when I said that Philly loves bluegrass? Well we love it so much that Old Crow actually had two bands open for them. The first was Philly’s own and loved Man About a Horse who opened the show with an incredible presentation of down to earth, foot stomping, string plucking, very talented, singing and playing that could hold their own anywhere. I’ve shot them before and the more I see them the more I love them.

Well, I’ve to go see a man about a horse so I have to end now.

— Mark J. Smith