Old Crow Medicine Show returns to Tulsa Thursday December 6 at the Cain’s Ballroom. Playing a mix of “old-time” American music, bluegrass, folk, and country, they are well known for their hit, “Wagon Wheel”. OCMS is a frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion and has performed at major festivals like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Bonnaroo. The band was in Tulsa last March as part of the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration at the Brady Theater, joining Rosanne Cash, Tim O’Brien, Hanson, John Mellencamp and others in an evening of song honoring the Okemah, OK born Guthrie.
“Wasn’t that a wonderful event?” Secor asked in a recent interview. “I was so proud to be a part of it...That wasn’t the first Woody event that we’ve done, but it was definitely the first event we’ve done in Oklahoma, and there was something special about being back there in the Oklahoma hills and singing Woody Guthrie songs, celebrating his life. I think it was an important time for Oklahoma to finally publicly embrace their wayward son, Woody. I was glad to be on hand for it. Woody turned a lot of heads in the state of Oklahoma, and I don’t think Oklahoma ever wanted to claim him. I think it took 100 years for it to happen.”
Having recently watched the CMA Awards, where several Oklahoma musicians were honored, Secor commented, “I mean, look how quickly embraced Garth (Brooks) or...Blake Shelton (were). See? If you’ve got a big hat on in Oklahoma, they’re cool. It’s like a loyalty oath. But you know, if you’re interested in equal rights for women and blacks and Indians, there’s a little more of a discerning palette out there in the Sooner State, so it took a little bit longer to get Woody through the door, through the gate.”
Secor’s interest in the American music tradition extends beyond his playing. “I am really interested in the history, in the origins of American song...In my band, we’re playing roots music. We’re playing music that’s steeped in tradition whether it’s a brand new song or a song that’s hundreds of years old, and being a scholar of that kind of music, I kind of get off on it in every which way.”
Secor is not surprised by the current revival of this traditional sound in popular music. “The music doesn’t need saving because it’s a renewable source. It keeps coming back whether you sit there and cultivate it or not. That’s the power of the American song. It’s so ingrained into our culture that we could have a whole generation of nothing but Taylor Swift and Britney Spears, and banjo music and harmony music would still come up year after year...that’s how powerful this stuff is. You can’t undo it. You can’t unteach it. You can’t cover it up...But we do need to apply it to this time, and I think our job in Old Crow Medicine Show is to make it relevant right now, to find a way to apply American folk music tradition to the current headlines and to current readership.”
For more information on the Tulsa show, visit the Cain’s website.