Old Crow Medicine Show founders Ketch Secor and Critter Fuqua made a stop in the Lowcountry for a special Spoleto eve concert Thursday night. Although it was slated as an intimate reunion show between the duo, who met as kids in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, they brought two other band members along for the ride — Chance McCoy and Morgan Jahnig — making a good half of the show a nearly full-on Old Crow affair. Of course, a few members were missing, most noticeably former frontman Willie Watson, who left the band earlier this year — right around the time that Fuqua rejoined. Although many fans will miss Watson, the band seems to be doing just fine without him.
The concert started out as expected, with just the duo on stage — Secor on banjo, Fuqua on guitar — picking old-timey songs like the Carter Family's gospel classic "River of Jordan" and the bluesy "Key to the Highway." Between tunes, they chatted with the audience about shrimp and grits and their trip down ("from the pork rind belt crossing over the boiled peanut belt"), setting the tone for a show's worth of banter that was almost as entertaining and charming as the music itself.
Just two songs in, they invited upright bassist Jahnig on stage, and his playing added a depth and energy to the duo as they played an old Army song followed by a foot-stompin' "hillbilly tune." Then when suspender-clad fiddler Chance McCoy came up from the wings, the group truly felt complete. Secor joked about grabbing some Lowcountry cuisine at Subway (we hope he was joking), and then the foursome lit into a Cajun tune and several more old-timey songs, seamlessly trading instruments throughout — they're a multitalented crew.
Over the course of the night, they offered up a few previews from Old Crow's new album, which hits stores in July, including the songs "Back to Mountain City" and "Carry Me Back to Virginia" — the crowd reacted favorably, as if the band was playing some of its oldest hits, so we're guessing the new album will be a success. After playing a few Old Crow classics like "Virginia Creeper" and "James River Blues," Jahnig and McCoy left the stage for a bit, and Secor and Fuqua calmed the crowd down with some slower tunes.
When the Jahnig and McCoy returned, they woke the audience back up with a mash-up of "I Hear Them All" and "This Land is Your Land" in honor of singer Doc Watson, who's in critical condition after suffering a fall — the song inspired a sing-along from the crowd. Before leaving the stage, they graciously gave us what we'd secretly been hoping for all night: their gold-certified hit, "Wagon Wheel." Not surprisingly, it packed the aisles and the area around the stage with people doing their best attempt at a square dance.
The band didn't make us wait too long for the encore, leading in with their hit song "Cocaine Habit" before moving into a surprisingly sweet cover of Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance with Somebody." Secor and Fuqua both grabbed ukuleles for the final song, "Carolina in the Morning." They couldn't have chosen a more perfect send-off — nothing could be finer.