Old Crow Medicine Show paints the French broad with a fresh new album: concert review


Old Crow Medicine Show band members,left to right,: Morgan Jashnig, Mason Via, Ketch Secor, Jerry Pentecost, Cory Younts and Mike Harris (Photo by Kit Wood).

The renowned Old Crow Medicine Show returned to Asheville during their Paint This Town tour for a real hootenanny with special guest Gangstagrass at the Salvage Station on June 9.

Gangstagrass, the ingenuitive bluegrass and hip-hop group and headliner for the night, displayed their well balanced sound with B.E. Farrow on the fiddle, Dan Whitener on banjo while R-Son The Voice of Reason performed dynamic verses throughout the set. 

At the start of the evening, Gangstagrass interacted with fans, call and response motivated the audience to move and get loud preceding Old Crow’s performance. The band made a smooth transition from the song “Do Better” to their high-powered track, “Ain’t No Crime” from the 2020 album, “No Time for Enemies.”

The Salvage Station was the perfect venue to experience both bluegrass bands on stage. R-Son’s slick rhymes paired with Rench’s vocals crafted a distinctly urban Appalachian sound which was widely accepted by the audience.

Once the headliner’s time came to an end, Old Crow got right to hootin’. Their wild and contagious energy swept through the crowd for nearly two and a half hours. Like a conductor leading their musicians through the climax of a symphony, Frontman and vocalist Ketch Secor sang the crowd to their knees with “Painkiller”, “Alabama High Test”, “Down Home Girl” and especially “Bombs Away.”

Secor gave a short retelling of each origin and their personal connection to the writers, with his spin, of course. The band’s chemistry on stage mirrored the hospitable families and plus-ones’ in the crowd, creating a sense of comfortability, as if the concert was hosted at a friend’s house. Fans weaved in and out of the outdoor venue, passing beers around as well as interacting with Farrow, who invited concert-goers to stand around and chat with band mates during Old Crow’s performance.

In an earlier conversation with guitarist Mike Harris, he discussed DeFord Bailey, the first black musician to play at the grand ole opry, and how he looked forward to paying homage to the harmonica player in Asheville this summer. Nonetheless, Old Crow Medicine Show did not disappoint. “DeFord Rides Again” introduced fans and first-timers to Bailey after a quick synopsis of the harmonica wizard’s legacy. 

Gangstagrass live at the HiFi Indy in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 15, 2019 (Photo by Melodie Yvonne).

As the sun began to set on the riverside the audience moved closer to the stage, leaving room for fans to continue dancing on the lawn. Whether you knew every song or just “Wagon Wheel,” Old Crow’s performance was greater than expected. Not only were fans sweatin’ and hollerin’ in their cowboy boots and Birkenstocks, they went to church right there on the lawn. 

It wasn’t the last time the crowd would hear from Gangstagrass; shortly before the end of the show, Old Crow invited them back on stage to play “Wagon Wheel.” Old Crow and Gangstagrass’ performances complimented each other’s artistry and put on one hell of a show.

The crowd cried encore almost immediately, starting slowly from the front of the stage to the lawn as each member made their way behind the set. Then suddenly, Old Crow and Gangstagrass picked up their instruments and played on like a church choir on the first Sunday. 

If you missed the holy hootenanny at the Salvage Station, you can still catch Old Crow Medicine Show on tour in the U.S. until January 2023. Gangstagrass, promoting their new album, “No Time for Enemies” is also on tour through February 2023.