Critter Fuqua, who plays guitar and banjo in Old Crow Medicine Show, promises a band jam at some point during Monday’s show at the civic center in Portland.
Old Crow opens for the Avett Brothers, and the guys in both bands are buds. They’ve played together too many times to count, and usually end up on stage together.
“Last time, I think we did ‘Wild Horses’ by the Stones, but it could be anything,” Fuqua said by phone from his home in Nashville.
They don’t plan it in advance, though they might throw out ideas during sound check, backstage or at a bar before the show. Old Crow has been to Maine many times, and the guys in the band love Portland, Fuqua said. He guarantees the band will find a place for a good meal, or a game of corn hole.
“Maine has been a big stomping ground for us. That’s our territory up there. We love it there,” he said. Last year, Old Crow played a two-night stand at the Boothbay Opera House, which Fuqua described as “probably my ideal gig. It’s a small venue. It’s an historic building. Tight community. Great little town. You get to ride bikes around, great food. Right by the ocean. It’s doesn’t feel like you are going to play for a couple of hours and then you have to leave. It feels organic and beautiful and sustainable. It feels like home.”
Old Crow has been playing for 15 years, and became widely known on the strength of its biggest hit, “Wagon Wheel.” But the Old Crow catalog is much deeper than a single song.
The band’s biggest accomplishment was its induction into the Grand Ole Opry in September. Although the band has played the Opry many times, becoming a member of a country music institution as revered and historic as the Opry is something that’s hard for Fuqua to put into perspective.
“The word that comes to mind is ‘roots.’ It’s a grounded feeling to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry and to be a part of the country music legacy that is Music City and is Nashville. It’s very grounding to know we are members of the Grand Ole Opry. I don’t know how else to say it.”
As for his band, Fuqua says Old Crow continues to evolve. The sound has changed a bit, and the new songs are different from the old songs. But the attitude hasn’t changed.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we never have,” he said. “I think music is fun, and people forget that. People get really stressed out about trying to make it and be successful. If that comes, great. I truly feel blessed that it has happened with our band. But the bottom line is, music is fun. You don’t have to be a professional musician to have fun. I don’t think we’ve forgotten that.”
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: