Old Crow Medicine Show Loves to Work During the Holidays

The veteran band is raising money for charity courtesy of a new Christmas tune, “Trim This Tree.”

The month of December is often a time when touring artists take a much-needed break from the road to relax and recharge at home. But that’s simply not the case for Grammy Award-winning band Old Crow Medicine Show. “I love working during the holidays,” says front man Ketch Secor, laughing. “My kids get plenty of good stuff in their stockings, and I honestly can’t wait to leave them under the tree to root around while I go out and have some fun.”

Old Crow Medicine Show, with Ketch Secor inside the car.

Photograph by Kit Wood

Fun will certainly be on the docket December 29, when Old Crow Medicine Show makes its way to the Taft Theatre for a guns-blazing, raise-the-decibel-level sort of performance the six-piece band has long been known for. They also might bring a Christmas song or two. “One thing Old Crow never did was make much Christmas music,” says Secor, who’s added a new holiday tune, “Trim This Tree,” to the musical repertoire alongside bandmates Morgan Jahnig, Mason Via, Jerry Pentecost, Cory Younts, and Mike Harris. “We left that to bands like The Oak Ridge Boys or The Statler Brothers or Alabama. There’s just something a little bit more mainstream about bothering to make art about Christmas.”

Old Crow Medicine Show released its seventh studio album, Paint This Town, earlier this year, and it hit No. 1 on the Americana Radio Albums Chart. But the group recently realized they were missing out on a crucial demographic. “Yeah, we figured out we were missing out on people who give a shit about Christmas,” says Secor. “It turns out there are a lot of them, and they really love their digital streaming platforms this time of year. And so we just figured it could be a way to raise joyful noise and raise some money for an amazing charity.”

That charity is Room in the Inn, a shelter in Nashville offering safety and resources for the unhoused and those battling addiction. “You can imagine that the need for these sorts of services has ballooned in Nashville just like in Cincinnati during the wrath of the opioid epidemic,” Secor says. “It really requires an all-hands-on-deck approach right now.”

Having the ability to help such a cause is yet another benefit for a band that’s reached the coveted quarter of a century mark. “Longevity is pretty hard to get,” says Secor, who will travel with his mates from Cincinnati to Nashville for two dates at the famed Ryman Auditorium to close out the year. “There is a short life expectancy in rock and roll. There are just so many hazards of the road, and by now there’s been quite a few people who are close to me who aren’t here any more. Particularly due to addiction, we’ve had to say goodbye to some really wonderful collaborators. So the blessing of longevity comes with the responsibility of reminding your audience just how lucky we all are to count our health among our accolades.”

He draws in a deep breath. “I wish that it would be OK for us to just sing about dancing and making love and tying one on all night,” Secor continues. “But if we did that, we’d be leaving out a whole lot of people’s experiences. The thing about music is that if it’s not a reflection of the world we live in, then it’s not complete.”

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