Photographs by Courtesy photo
Old Crow Medicine Show, known as an American string band, brings the music of Bob Dylan to the Walton Arts Center from a new album, “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde.” The band reimagined Dylan’s classic for the 50th anniversary of its release.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Old Crow Medicine Show
WHEN — 7 p.m. Nov. 16
WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
COST — $40-$50
INFO — 443-5600
Bob Dylan has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Today, his work is considered "roots music" -- with a mix of folk, blues, country, gospel, rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and more. Much of Dylan's celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became a reluctant "voice of a generation," writing songs that became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
Dylan's seventh album also is credited as the first rock double-album, "Blonde on Blonde," released in 1966.
But most music lovers don't realize he recorded that album in Nashville. That's right, Tennessee, the home of country music.
"He recorded it in Nashville with renowned session musicians," says Christopher "Critter" Fuqua, cofounder and guitarist of the band Old Crow Medicine Show. "That's when nobody was coming to Nashville. It really opened up after that."
To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of "Blonde on Blonde," and in support of the exhibit "Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City," the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville asked the men of Old Crow Medicine Show to perform the entire album live on stage in May 2016.
"We liked it so much, we decided to release it and do a tour," Fuqua says. The result was "50 Years of Blonde on Blonde," released in April by Columbia. The concert film premiered in September.
Grammy-winning Old Crow Medicine Show brings those 50 years of music, that tour, to the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville on Nov. 16.
"It's pretty rock," Fuqua says of the OCMS version, but the band's persona as a old-time string band that also plays Led Zeppelin sounds through. "'Pledging My Time' becomes a 'hillbilly breakdown,'" reads an April article in Rolling Stone. "Later, where Dylan's 'Obviously 5 Believers' is a strutting blues jaunt, Old Crow's becomes a manic fiddle riot."
"We used keys, pedals, steel and drums," Fuqua says. "It was really not that hard (to reimagine the music). It really flowed for us."
Dylan says that "Blonde on Blonde" was "the closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind," according to the Hall of Fame's website. He was joined by Nashville musicians Charlie McCoy, Kenny Buttre and Wayne Moss -- members of McCoy's crack Nashville band, the Escorts -- Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Jerry Kennedy, Mac Gayden, Henry Strzelecki, Joe South, Bill Aikins and Wayne Butler. And the Hawks (soon to become The Band) accompanied him on the road for a few concerts, according to the Hall of Fame.
But what does the rock icon think of the remake of his classic?
"None of us have every met Bob Dylan," Fuqua says. "We haven't heard Dylan's reaction (to the project). But then, Dylan really doesn't comment on much."
Fellow band member Ketch Secor introduced Fuqua to Dylan's music back when the boys were in junior high. "I listened to Dylan in high school all the time," the 39-year-old Fuqua says.
"50 Years of Blonde on Blonde" is not the first Dylan music OCMS has tackled.
The platinum hit "Wagon Wheel" can be credited, in part, to the legend. Secor brought a bootleg copy of Dylan music to the band, on which the musician mumbled "Rock me, mama."
"We could hear the chorus, but we couldn't understand the lyrics, so we came up with our own verses," Fuqua says.
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