The news that Nashville-based string band Old Crow Medicine Show is coming to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on March 7 reminded us how much we like their carnival-themed music vid for “Wagon Wheel.” Played more than 20 million times on YouTube since its debut in 2006, the video has the band on the bally stage of an old-timey carny girl show, with the girls shimmying up to the musicians as the ticket-seller counts his cash and the Rock-O-Plane whirls on the midway. It was shot in Smyrna, Tennessee, next to Snyder & Metts Amusements, which was owned by Hill Snyder and is now part of carnival history, says a poster on Matt’s Carnival Warehouse.
The band members have roots in Virginia and upstate New York, where fiddle player and vocalist Ketch Secor wrote “Wagon Wheel” as a teen. The song took its inspiration from bootleg tapes of Bob Dylan’s “Rock Me Mama” to which Secor added lyrics about hitchhiking to North Carolina.
According to music writer Peter Cooper, when Secor sought to copyright the song with Dylan for use on an album, he learned that Dylan credited the “Rock me, mama” chorus to bluesman Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, and Crudup probably borrowed his idea from an early 20th century recording by Big Bill Broonzy. “That song drags a heavy chain,” Secor told Cooper. “In a way, it’s taken something like 85 years to get completed.” Released in 2004, the song went platinum this year and the band was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
Tickets for the March 7, 2014 concert at Barclays go on sale Friday, October 18, with pre-sale to fans via OCMS’s website now available. The band’s 2014 tour dates in support of the Avett Brothers also include Boston, Pittsburgh and Fairfax, VA. On December 30 and New Year’s Eve, OCMS will play Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium.
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