When I think of a live show, bluegrass can really take it to another level: the tenacious rhythm, the fiddle, high harmony and that relentless bass. Although I’ve never seen bluegrass back in the day, I imagine the hootenanny to feel something like an Old Crow concert. Songs about drug addiction, infidelity and them good ole days that have gone by the wayside, all with a smile.
Now often, DVDs can’t hold a candle to a live show. They just sit there 2-D on the T.V. and fail to infect with that energy, raw and alive. Now although it’s truly impossible to capture the energy of a show on video, them boys made a good run at it. Truly, the energy of the show is palpable and the sweat on the band’s brow seems authentic. The energy feels like it’d be the same if they were playing for two people on a street corner (which the band often did).
The disc has a good mix of old favorites and new material. The middle period is somewhat sparsely represented (O.C.M.S. and Big Iron World) despite the consistency of these albums. But when you really like a band, they can often draw your attention to other songs that you may not have appreciated. I round “Trials & Troubles” after I hadn’t even checked the track name through numerous listens to O.C.M.S.
The real heart of the show for me was the rip roaring traditional interpretations at the beginning and end. On their early record Eutaw, I’d always really enjoyed both “Raise a Ruckus” and “Shack #9.” I did not see them play either tune at their live shows and I figured that was simply because no one had this record. But both of them really embodied the power of live music. Any song that repeats openly “They grow it by the pound in Johnson County” with such reckless abandon is fine by me. And “Raise a Ruckus” truly does just that in bluegrass fashion.
Standout tracks from their latest record Tennessee Pusher are also present. The most singable track “Caroline” and the drug laden “Alabama High-Test” get energetic readings. Also, “Tell It To Me,” “Wagon Wheel,” and “I Hear Them All” round out the list of favorites.
Even though I’d rarely spend the money for a live recording let alone a DVD, Old Crow’s first is different. It captures the spirit of the live show. Lets the boys run wild and makes you want to get up out of your seat.
About the author: Jeff is a teacher in the Boston area. When not buried correcting papers, Jeff can be found plucking various stringed instruments and listening to all types of americana music.