Thursday, April 12, 2012

i heard them all

This will be my last music entry for awhile; for some reason I’ve been in my music backyard for a few weeks and that’s what you end up hearing about. (Sorry, "Dan".)

A short story: as we all know, Old Crow Medicine Show has been a part of my life for about eight years. I stumbled upon them, literally, on the Sunday of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass back in 2004. I was camped out at the Arrow Stage holding for Gillian Welch later in the day. OCMS came out third that day and I was hooked – in fact, when they started playing the then unknown-ish Wagon Wheel, the hundred around the stage went a bit mental. I saw them again about six weeks later at the Borderline in London with X – the best live show I’ve ever seen; man, I loved those guys. I’ve seen them since (twice in D.C. and once more in S.F. at the Great American Music Hall) and it’s never quite held up to those first two experiences. Probably never could have. I’ve got all the albums, I love the songs, but eventually you move on. The band has changed significantly in the last year or so and they aren’t the same live – at least not what I’ve seen.

Last month at the memorial concert for Warren Hellman, who founded and graciously paid for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass every year, they played a number of songs and it was all quite hallow. Maybe it was the crowd, maybe the event, maybe…I don’t know. I’m not sure of the rock n’ roll break-up story behind the recent changes, nor does it matter, but they aren’t the same. What immediately came to my mind was a blurb in the liner notes to a fantastic album of my younger days, Billy’s Live Bait by the Gear Daddies (also a massive favorite of mine). Critic Jim Walsh, who I think wrote for the St. Paul paper back then, wrote this about the end of the Gear Daddies, “For as long as I live, I will never, ever love a band the way I love the Gear Daddies.” I kind of feel that way about the Crows even though it’s my time to move along.

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