Ketch Secor & Joe Andrews: “Old Crow Medicine Show” | Talks at Google

Ketch Secor & Joe Andrews: “Old Crow Medicine Show” | Talks at Google


[MUSIC PLAYING] KETCH SECOR: We thought we’d
just sort of welcome you with a fast-paced little
tune from down Tennessee way. We rolled in on a
tour bus this morning. We got here about
6:30 or 7:00 AM. I think we left Nashville
about 11:30 last night. Slept like little babies in
our berths with our curtains pulled. The bunk this week–
did you notice? Normally, we have
a button fastener, but this week it’s magnetized. [LAUGHTER] JOE ANDREWS: It kind
of sucked in really loudly and unexpectedly
as I closed my curtain. I closed it. And then it just went,
[STARTLING NOISE] KETCH SECOR: I know. It’s the little things, y’all. JOE ANDREWS: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] KETCH SECOR: The
other nice piece is the pneumatic doors
that feel very Star Trek. [SWISHING NOISE] JOE ANDREWS: Yeah. But you don’t want to get
stuck on one, because they don’t retract if you get stuck
in the pneumatic sliding door. KETCH SECOR: You can
crack nuts with them, too. [BLUEGRASS MUSIC – OLD CROW
MEDICINE SHOW] Yeah! Oh, Detroit! [EXCLAIMS] Woo! Here we go. [APPLAUSE] Thanks, y’all. It’s early yet. [LAUGHTER] JASON ANDREAS:
That’ll get the blood flowing on a Friday afternoon. Thank you. Well, thank you, guys. That was awesome. And we’re going to play a couple
more songs kind of intertwined throughout some of
the questioning. So really appreciate that. We’ve got a lot to
talk about today. You guys have so much going on. And I’m super excited to kind
of get through some of that. Let’s start with
where you’re at now. You guys have had a busy summer. You guys were at Bonnaroo as
part of the Grand Ole Opry. You’ve been on the Outlaw Tour
with Willie Nelson and friends, including the Avett Brothers,
who were in here not too long ago with us. And now you’re going out
on a headlining tour, starting here in
Detroit, tonight. First of all, a nice kind of
behind-the-scenes question– any stories about Willie
Nelson on the road? Any good stories from backstage? KETCH SECOR: Well, we’ve been
playing a lot this summer with Willie. And it’s so amazing going
out and following and eating the dust of the Red-Headed
Strangers tour bus across thousands of miles of
barren American countryside. And when this band
first started, I met Willie Nelson when I was
18 at Merle Watson Festival. And he came out of the bus. I was waiting for him. And I had a copy
of my new record. And it seemed unfathomable
that there would ever be a universe in which we would
actually be on the same tour or know each other or that
he would someday hand me a harmonica and say, now is
your turn to blow the solo, or like sing a little
louder, or give me a hug, or any of those
things that happened. Because when it first
started, I was 18. And due to the
conditions of the choices I had made earlier
in the evening, I was having a
hard time standing. [LAUGHTER] And I got up to the bus,
which sort of broke my fall. And Willie came down. And he was so sweet and genuine. And you know that feeling
when you need something to focus on so you won’t fall? For me, that was Willie Nelson. [LAUGHTER] And like, I just kept
zeroing in on him. And then we got our picture
made, which is unusual for me, because I’m not a
photographic type. But somebody there said,
let me snap your picture. And in the photograph, we’re
both wearing black cowboy hats with turquoise
stones in the middle. And as soon as the photograph
got printed and given to me, I felt that I needed to
get rid of it right away. Because it just felt like taboo
to have this dream of mine be articulated so perfectly. Because someday I was going
to play with Willie Nelson. So I gave it away
to this old woman whose house I was squatting in. And she put it on
her monitor heater. And y’all who are
from the South, and maybe also from the
UP, know that the position of the monitor heater– a photograph that goes
on your monitor heater is the most important
thing in your life. [LAUGHTER] So the fact that she is
pushed away all her children’s high school graduations
to make sure that the boy squatting in her
house next to Willie Nelson was in that prominent spot. JASON ANDREAS:
That’s incredible. Thank you. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know where
to go from there. That’s a great story. KETCH SECOR: So many years
after, we found ourselves knowing Willie Nelson. And, in fact, we should
sing a little Willie Nelson while we’re talking about him. JASON ANDREAS: I
would love that. KETCH SECOR: Why don’t we? JASON ANDREAS: Perfect. Look at that segue. KETCH SECOR: The one I’ve
been really liking that he’s been singing lately is– [SINGING] [LAUGHTER] [STRUMS GUITAR] What’s your favorite
Willie Nelson song, Joe? JOE ANDREWS: Oh, gosh. [BLUEGRASS MUSIC] KETCH SECOR: [HUMS] [MUSIC – OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW,
“BLUE EYES CRYING IN THE RAIN”] I got one. JOE ANDREWS: All right. [OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW SINGING
“BLUE EYES CRYING IN THE RAIN”] [APPLAUSE] JASON ANDREAS: Thank
you so much, guys. JOE ANDREWS: Willie’s
great because he’s, I think, the only
artist that can get away with having his walk-on
music for his concerts and his walk-off music
both be Willie Nelson. [LAUGHTER] JASON ANDREAS: That’s
a rarity, right. Yeah. That’s when you know
you’ve made it, right– JOE ANDREWS: That’s right. JASON ANDREAS: –to
the mountaintop. When you guys are
playing a festival like Outlaw with Willie and
a bunch of other great acts, is that something
you guys prefer– is being part of a lineup? In today’s musical world,
festivals and lineup tours are really big these days. Or do you guys prefer more
of an intimate setting where you guys are headlining? Or does it not matter
to you, I guess? Maybe somewhere in between? KETCH SECOR: Well, variety
is the spice of life, right. So it’s really fun to get
to do all of those things– to get to go out
with Willie Nelson– and not just Willie,
but his wonderful family band that’s been with him. Some of these members
have been with him for more than 40 years. And then his sister has been
with him for a lifetime. And then you never know. You’re going to wake up
in a new town each day, but you’re always going to
go to the catering place and find your pals
from the night before. JASON ANDREAS: (LAUGHING) Right. KETCH SECOR: And
then the other thing is that, when you’ve been
in a band for 21 years like I’ve been in, you
get tired of them boys. [LAUGHTER] And so it’s just nice to wake
up to somebody else’s breath, bed head, or sassy attitude. JASON ANDREAS: Sure. [LAUGHS] Makes sense. [LAUGHTER] You guys mentioned driving
up to Detroit from Nashville last night. And in Nashville, as
you guys well know, is the holy church of country
music, the Ryman Auditorium. You guys have played
there 40-plus times? That’s got to be close
to a record, maybe. And I know you guys do your
New Year’s Eve show every year there. My brother and sister-in-law,
who could not be here today and who were sorely
missing this, have been to many of those
shows and are coming this year. So I know that they
really enjoy those shows. That segues into your
new album, right, that has just been
released or just been mentioned of the
release, “Live at the Ryman.” Can you tell us a little
bit more about that album? And if you want to
talk about the Ryman, as well, we would always
be all ears on that also. KETCH SECOR: Y’all ever heard
of the Ryman Auditorium? Yeah. So they call it the “mother
church of country music.” One of the things I
love about the Ryman is that it was built by divine
decree, as opposed to the Hotel Park Avenue here, which was
built by a boardroom decision. But see, now, this guy, he was
a riverboat captain, Tom Ryman, right– and like a sin and
licentious kind of dude. Like, this guy is making
money hand over fist. He’s got charlatans and
harlots all working for him. He’s making money in
the riverboat trade all through Nashville
and all across Kentucky, making all this dough. Well, one day in like 1880,
he goes to a tent revival. And he sees the great
preacher, Sam Jones. And Sam inspires him. And he goes out one
day, and he hears the voice of God saying, Tom
Ryman, build me a tabernacle. Right, so this cat,
he’s like, I’m going to give up all my wicked ways. And I’m going to build
a church for everybody. And so he builds the
Union Gospel Tabernacle at the corner of Fifth and
Broadway in downtown Nashville. And this becomes the theater
where Charlie Chaplin plays, where Bert Williams plays, where
Martin Luther King and Teddy Roosevelt play. Everybody goes there. Lillian Gish, and
then that Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale. And that’s just in the first
20 years of the new century. By the time we come around,
like the Pogues are playing and the Pixies and who else? JOE ANDREWS: The Raconteurs
and the Wu Tang Clan. [LAUGHTER] KETCH SECOR: Yeah. And “The Wiggles Live.” [LAUGHTER] JOE ANDREWS: That’s right. KETCH SECOR: I said
that for you two. [LAUGHTER] And Peppa Pig, also– on a $40 ticket. Now, come on. What’s a kid’s show for– that’s like a trip
to Disneyland. Anyway, so it has become
a multi-use facility that has this
wonderful origin story. And every time we play there,
it’s haunted with ghosts. Hank Williams and,
oh, they’re all there. You can just feel them all. It’s one of those
if-the-walls-could-talk kind of places. And much like this skyline
that I’m looking out at, it’s a resemblance of
that sort of belief in, let’s build
something that’s going to last forever and always
be populated and always be a community builder. And I look out, and
I see things that are not currently occupied– not all of them, but
certainly some of them aren’t. The Ryman has stayed currently
occupied all these years. But there was a time
in which Nashville was totally ready to tear it down. Because Nashville
had left downtown. And so it was
almost a done deal. They opened up the new Grand
Ole Opry House out west of town. That’s sort of like
y’all’s suburb– the one out there by the
lake where your uncle lives. The one that’s got that good
job and that pretty daughter. What’s his name? [LAUGHTER] JOE ANDREWS: [GROANS] KETCH SECOR: Just say something. JOE ANDREWS: Steubenville. [LAUGHTER] KETCH SECOR: That’s
a real outer suburb. JASON ANDREAS: That’s a stretch. Steubenville, Ohio is a stretch. JOE ANDREWS: Yeah,
I don’t know where. Also, the Opry is east of town. But that’s the direction– you’ve never been
a direction guy. KETCH SECOR: He’s
from Alabama, y’all. [LAUGHTER] JOE ANDREWS: That’s right. So speak slowly. [LAUGHTER] Are you waiting for something? KETCH SECOR: No. JOE ANDREWS: Was
there a question? KETCH SECOR: I was
thinking about what happens when you google Alabama. JOE ANDREWS: You don’t
want to know what happens when you google Alabama. [LAUGHTER] KETCH SECOR: Anyway,
the Ryman lasted. And we’ve just
put this new album out on Columbia Records
celebrating our many years of playing there. And it sounds really great. It’s a beautiful live record. We’ve got some
special guests on it– the harmonica king, Lee Oskar,
Charlie Worsham, and, oh, Margo Price, who you’ll love. She’s something of a
Jenny Lind herself. JASON ANDREAS: I think
Molly Tuttle’s on there. KETCH SECOR: Mm-hmm. JASON ANDREAS: That’s great. And when does it come out? KETCH SECOR: October 4. JASON ANDREAS: October 4. Cool. KETCH SECOR: And it’s
coming out to coincide with this wonderful
film that is also coming out in September on PBS. It’s called “Country
Music by Ken Burns.” It’s a 16-hour flick, y’all. He’s been working on
it for eight years. He conducted 160 interviews. And of those 160 interviews,
roughly 25% of the interviewees have died. [LAUGHTER] So, man, this thing is legit. [LAUGHTER] And I’ve been
waiting for somebody to tell the story
of country music with that outsider perspective. And America’s most
beloved documentarian is the guy for the job. I’m an advisor to the film. And I’m in the film. This is going to be a
really exciting time to get to see my
eight-years-ago self. I’ve still got it a little
baby fat in the shod. It’s a little embarrassing. JASON ANDREAS: And that comes
out September 15, right? I believe. KETCH SECOR: Yeah. That reminds me, I should
say that my mom is here. As long as we’re talking
about my chubby baby fat, I might as well make
reference to my parents who have joined us from Toledo. Welcome, Jay and Trina. [APPLAUSE] JOE ANDREWS:
Speaking of Alabama, did I tell you that Sam Jones is
a far, distant cousin of mine? KETCH SECOR: You’re
related to Sam Jones? JOE ANDREWS: Yeah. KETCH SECOR: The man who
convinced Tom Ryman to give up his sin and licentious ways? JOE ANDREWS: Can
you believe that? KETCH SECOR: Wow. JOE ANDREWS: Very,
very far, distant past. But it’s true. KETCH SECOR: Joe’s
from Anniston, Alabama. And oh my god, we just
played his hometown. (LAUGHING) Y’all should
have seen this scene. JOE ANDREWS: It was
something to behold. KETCH SECOR:
Everyone is in a tux, right, at the old high school. And Joe’s parents are like
the sponsors of this gig. And no one plays
Anniston, Alabama. JOE ANDREWS: It’s a very
formal, longstanding concert series that is usually classical
or musical-based performances. KETCH SECOR: So we
come out singing about cocaine and whiskey and– [LAUGHTER] –all kinds of sin
and licentious things. And they don’t know what to do. JOE ANDREWS: No idea. Crickets. Usually people cheer
when we come out on stage for the
opening of the show. The lights damn. We come out. Everyone’s like, yay! And it’s just silence. Dead silence. [LAUGHTER] They’re like waiting
for the big reveal. And we’re like, it’s us. We’re here. [LAUGHTER] It was awkward. KETCH SECOR: Yeah. JASON ANDREAS: You
guys have always been very keen on honoring the
country music and what it is and who it is. And, Ketch, you did a
Ted Talk not too long ago that I watched. It was quite good. And it talks a little bit
about how country music is American music. But it includes
inspiration from all over. Can you talk a little
bit more about that? And you kind of talked a
little bit about origin stories with the Ryman, kind
of tying that into what you did with Ken
Burns, and really what being a part
of country music and bringing so much else
to that means to you guys? KETCH SECOR: Sure, thanks. I gave a Ted Talk back in
March, when the TEDx group came to Nashville. And they wondered what I
actually wanted talk about. And I knew right away
what I wanted to speak on. And I’ll tell you,
my idea came to me from the Country
Music Hall of Fame. Now, I was there for
the medallion ceremony, which every year, all
these stars and executives gather to honor somebody who
exemplifies country music. And in this case, the new
crop that year was a guy named Fred Foster who’s
a producer for Dolly Parton and many others– just a super innovative
record maker. And then Charlie
Daniels, the fiddler, and a couple other guys– Randy Travis, I
think, among them. So anyway, I’m in this
room, and I’m hearing all these amazing stories. And Dolly’s there, and
Kris Kristoffersson sings. We should do his
song in a minute, because I’m always thinking
about Kris Kristoffersson. So everyone’s having
such a great time. And they’re telling
these amazing stories. So like I learned
that Dolly Parton, that her father paid the
obstetrician in cornmeal when she was born. Can you dig that? [LAUGHTER] Like it was a birth
barter, y’all. [LAUGHTER] So and then, Charlie
Daniels is there. Brenda Lee– you remember her? Little Miss Dynamite? JASON ANDREAS: Sure. KETCH SECOR: She’s about
y’all’s height, but she’s 90. [LAUGHTER] And she’s still got it. She’s this amazing singer. And so she’s talking
about Charlie Daniels– and brings him on– about how he grew up learning to
read on the Bible and his coal oil lamp and all this stuff. But I’m looking around, and
everybody at the Country Music Hall of Fame, except
who’s on the stage, looks like they work
at Google, Detroit– [LAUGHTER] –in that they likely did
not pay in chicken or feed for their births and likely
had electricity and plumbing through all of their childhood,
let alone their adulthood. And so everyone
looks like they got a good degree and a good job
and dental work and, you know, an attractive bunch of people. And I’m looking around, and
I just don’t see anybody that looks like they’re part of
this country music mythology because everyone looks
like me or y’all. But then I go out, because
it’s time for me to go. And now, I don’t
have a smartphone. I’m going to flip phone user. Come on, don’t be ashamed. JASON ANDREAS: Anyone else? KETCH SECOR: Google? JASON ANDREAS: Anyone? KETCH SECOR: Y’all all know
you wish that y’all had a BlackBerry like me. [LAUGHTER] So I go out, because I can’t
hail an Uber, because that doesn’t work on my flip phone. So I’ve got to get me a cab. And so I get a cab. And a man from
Sudan picks me up. And right away, I can
see that this man grew up in a life pathway so much closer
to Dolly Parton and Charlie Daniels than anybody in
that room full of stars and executives. And that’s when it
started occur to me, oh, man, I’ve got to do
something about this. Nashville is an immigrant city. National is a refugee city. And we have people from
all over the world who have just arrived. And their stories have
so much more in common than Dolly Parton than
any of Dolly Parton’s 32-year-old, educated listeners. And so I’m seeking
to contextualize as part of Nashville’s
country music story these people from Sudan
and Eritrea and Djibouti and from Congo, especially. So I took it upon myself
to learn some music. You want to play a little
something on this one, Joe? You might not know this one. [LAUGHTER] I hope no one here
really speaks Lingala, because I don’t either. [STRUMS GUITAR] [LAUGHTER] But I’m going to try. I’ve got this song that
goes, rock me, mama, like a wagon wheel. And it’s real popular, right? And so everyone’s always
coming up and saying– would you give me a
little bit like a kind of background thing? Like a– [STRUMMING TENTATIVELY] Nah, no, no. More like “Bubbles in My–” [PLAYING “BUBBLES IN MY BEER”] OK. What about a little more
“Days of Our Lives”? [LAUGHTER] [PLAYING MYSTERIOUS MUSIC] Thanks. [LAUGHTER] All right. So anyway, my friends,
they hear the song, “Rock Me, Mama,
Like a Wagon Wheel,” and they all want to
tell me about it– particularly in
inopportune times, like I’m about to catch
a flight and I’m late. And they also need me
to see their photographs of the evidence and
possibly watch a video before I get onto the tarmac. [MUSIC INTENSIFIES] Please take a look. We were just in Palo Alto. And they played this at a bar. [LAUGHTER] And so it’s not that
much of a thrill. But recently, somebody
came up to me and said, we were just in Vietnam. And this singer was there. It was a Burmese singer
hanging out in Vietnam. And he plays, “Rock Me, Mama.” And he sings it beautifully. And we’re all from
East Tennessee. And so it was so meaningful
to us when he got to the part about Johnson City. And we just felt
like we were at home in Vietnam with this Burmese
folk singer singing your song. And would you also
take a look at this and verify it and all that? [LAUGHTER] Anyway, I got on the plane. And I started
thinking about, what would it be like if
somebody came to Nashville and heard a song that made them
feel the way that this family felt when they got to Vietnam? A song that was
like a welcome mat. A song that made them
say, oh my god, they’re playing that song from my
town in America, in Nashville. And I thought, I’ve got
to learn such a song. So I’ve sort of invented this
family from Lusaka, Zambia. And they’re headed
into Nashville. And they’re so excited. They heard about Dolly Parton. And they’re going
to go to the Ryman. And they might ride
on a pedal tavern. [LAUGHTER] [CONTINUES PLAYING] That’s real pedal tavern. JOE ANDREWS: African
pedal tavern. And then they hear the
strains of the song coming out from the honky tonks. And they get out
their cell phones. And they begin to
snap wildly the photos that they can’t wait to send
home to Lusaka in Zambia and say, take a look. Take a look at this. We were made so
welcome in Nashville. [MUSIC – OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW] [OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW SINGING
IN AFRICAN LANGUAGE] [APPLAUSE AND CHEERING] Amani. “Amani” means peace. JASON ANDREAS: One of my
questions further down my list is, what kind of technology
gadgets do you guys use? But I think [CHUCKLES] you
dead-ended me on that question before I already asked it. So we’ll strike that
one from the list. KETCH SECOR: It’s the
technology of lifting up the needle of a record player
and then running it back. [SOUNDING OUT LYRICS IN AFRICAN
LANGUAGE] Because it took a long
time to figure out how to beat photographic
mimicry on that number. JASON ANDREAS: You obviously
have such a wide array of music influences. And, again, a lot
of homage to kind of the early days of country
music and where it came from. And I don’t want to
put you guys into a box of just being country
musicians, because you play so many types of music. Can you take us back in
terms of origin stories and talk a little bit about how
Old Crow Medicine Show started? How you guys kind of all
brought that sound together? And I’ve always
been interested– you started Old Crow
Medicine Show as a teenager in the ’90s when grunge rock
was all the rage on MTV. And you decided to start kind
of an old-time string band in the middle of
grunge Americana. So you talked a little bit
about that origin story and kind of where that
inspiration came from. KETCH SECOR: Which
way’s Windsor? JASON ANDREAS: [LAUGHS]
Straight ahead. KETCH SECOR: That’s
where it all began. JASON ANDREAS: (LAUGHING) Yeah. Windsor? KETCH SECOR: Yeah, man. I was 19 years old. And I got to Windsor. It was 1998– that fall. [LAUGHTER] It was just after
Canadian Thanksgiving, which we celebrated
in Ottawa, which was like the
toonies, the loonies, the coveted owl on the $50 note. Canadians among us? Come on, Google didn’t
hire any Canadians? [LAUGHTER] JASON ANDREAS: Shoot. Well, we’ll work on that. KETCH SECOR: (INTENTIONALLY
MUFFLED) Discrimination. [LAUGHTER] Anyway, I’m sure
they’ll hire some soon. JASON ANDREAS: (LAUGHING) Yeah. KETCH SECOR: Our
origin story is there, only because it
happens to be there. But, man, we came to Windsor,
Ontario, and we were 19. And we had been in a band
for like three weeks. And we started this band more
like a circus, more like a, hey, let’s get out of town. Did you get did somebody
break up with you? Was your heart broken? We figured that we would
just sort of assemble this bunch of fellows
that at all sort of been through the same kind
of turnstiles of life at that point and wanted
to get out of town. No one was thinking,
let’s get a record deal, let’s be in a legitimate
band, let’s publish songs and get successful. No, no, we just
wanted to get out of the Finger Lakes of New York. Steubenville is a close second. [LAUGHTER] The thing is, it’s
just this long winter. And what was I even
doing up there? Like, I’m a southern boy. I didn’t belong there. But the music in Ithaca,
New York, in the late ’90s, they made me feel,
as a fiddle player, that the fiddle was king. Like, every other
town made you think, you’ve got to play an electric
guitar to be a cool guy. But in Ithaca, you could be a
violinist and be a cool guy. Those were the hipsters. Like, they were like,
seriously, y’all. You could be a really busy dude
with your little black book, you know what I’m saying. JOE ANDREWS: Yup. [LAUGHTER] KETCH SECOR: With your old-timey
shuck and jive and that fiddle and that claw hammer banjo– that’s what they were
hitting you up over. JOE ANDREWS: Mm-hmm. It would’ve had to be little
black books back then. You couldn’t write Notes in
your phone at that point. KETCH SECOR: No, no,
you wrote it all down. And what I wrote
down was “Windsor.” Because I’d been to
Canada as a child to like, look at Niagara
Falls and whatnot. But I couldn’t wait as an adult. So I started going
across the border. The best thing about
living in the Finger Lakes was that Canada was
only three hours away. And the best thing about
playing music in Canada is that they had a $2 coin. Because nobody wants
to throw paper. There’s no “plink.” There’s no “plunk.” In Canada, you can not
only “plink” your dollar, you can double your money. I mean, just think about
those odds as a busker. Why would you want to go to a
place that’s going to have to– have y’all ever
tipped a busker $1? You know you have to ball
it up to throw it in there. It’s like a wastepaper
basket basketball shot– the feeling of throwing. And yet, you don’t want to
throw quarters because, come on, you’re Google. You can spare a little more. Come on. Give your Woodward Street
buskers a little bit more. Toonies, man. So we wanted to go to Canada. We started going up there to
play in Kingston, Ontario, and in Cornwall. And we played in Quebec. And, man, this $2 coin
thing, because our pockets would just be bulging. We would get to that Tim
Hortons, and we’ll say, we’ll take everything. And then we would just
put the mountain of change right there by the register and
start counting it out, getting rid of the smallest bits first. Throw out your coppers. We were throwing away
our pennies in Canada. We were that rich on
loonies and toonies. [LAUGHTER] We’re a busker band. We started on the curb. JOE ANDREWS: True. KETCH SECOR: And
it’s just always been part of the ethos of the
Old Crow, no matter how big we got– or even like,
winning Grammy awards or playing in New Zealand or
playing with the Mumford boys in front of 60,000 people. We were always a busker band. I was always thinking
about the curb. I always felt like
I was on the curb. I feel like I’m on
the curb right now. [LAUGHTER] JASON ANDREAS: Anyone have
any loonies and toonies we could toss up? [LAUGHTER CONTINUES] KETCH SECOR: You
know what I’m saying? JASON ANDREAS: Yeah. KETCH SECOR: $2 coins, y’all. “Plink.” You’re a part of the band. You’re a percussionist. “Clink.” JASON ANDREAS: We’ve got
no loonies and toonies. But I got you some
kombucha earlier. Does that count for anything? KETCH SECOR: Oh, man. JASON ANDREAS:
That’s pretty fancy. [LAUGHS] So you’ve always
been a busking band. Anyone here been to an
Old Crow show live before? Oh, not bad. Oh, you too? Yeah. Actually, this is my
daughter, Lena, here. Her first-ever concert last year
was an Old Crow Medicine Show show. KETCH SECOR: Oh, Lena, really? JASON ANDREAS: Yeah. Yeah, she seems very
interested right now, huh? [LAUGHTER] Yeah. KETCH SECOR: Now, Lena, where
did you see us play music? Do you remember, Lena? AUDIENCE: She might answer you. Liv Andreas. KETCH SECOR: How about you, Liv? Do you remember where
we were playing? JASON ANDREAS: It’s the
Outlaw Fest at DTE– KETCH SECOR: Oh, yeah. JASON ANDREAS: –last summer. KETCH SECOR: Yup. JASON ANDREAS: Absolutely. And Clarkston. Yeah, yeah. KETCH SECOR: Yeah. JASON ANDREAS: You said
“Peppa Pig” earlier. So Lena’s out now. She’s thinking Peppa Pig. [LAUGHTER] And you’ve lost her. So we’ll get her back tomorrow. [LAUGHTER] So lots of people who have
seen Old Crow Medicine Show live– some who have not. So can you talk a
little bit, then, how you transition your history
of busking on street corners to playing tonight at Motor
City or playing on a large stage or playing in front of 60,000
people with the Mumford & Sons. KETCH SECOR: Well, we
just jump around a lot. And there’s a lot of
shouting and whooping it up. It really translates really
well, the curb to the stage. Because you learn, when
you’re on the curb, the challenge is to get people
to stop in their tracks. That’s the first skill of the
busker, is to arrest somebody. And then there’s
this like, I think, a cognitive event that happens
in their brains, in which they realize that they’re at a
show, that they’re not just pedestrians. But that they’re
engaged in a performance that they themselves are part
of because the performer can’t really be performing
if no one’s listening. That’s sort of like the
[AWKWARDLY CLAPS] one hand. You’re sort of a
spiritual dude, right? You know what I’m saying, right? JOE ANDREWS: I don’t
know what you’re saying. [LAUGHTER] KETCH SECOR: When you
go out on the curb, you’re really creating your
own jumbotron for everybody to like– or you’re making a
billboard of yourself. And then you’re trying
to get everybody to stop and listen to you. And the real skill is
to do that in the face of all of the sounds and
the soundscapes of the curb. So like busking in Detroit– I mean, I don’t know
that I’d really try that. I went to Windsor, y’all. And I cleaned up. But I never came to Detroit
to play on the street corner. But I did come to
Detroit for Free Friday– the very first one. Remember this, now? The year was 1997. Old Crow was just a
dream in my eyes, ears. And Burger King was offering
free French fries on one Friday. And I woke up that morning, the
morning of free Friday in 1997. You can google this, seriously. This was on like January 4. I know, because I had come with
an early version of the Old Crow Medicine Show to play
in Michigan that winter. The plan was, we’re going to
circumnavigate Lake Huron, right. What a thing to do, right? 18– I felt like Admiral
Perry, y’all, with a fiddle. I was going to go
around Lake Huron. And we only got as far
as Sheboygan, Michigan. [LAUGHTER] Which was pretty good. JOE ANDREWS: Not bad. KETCH SECOR: And it
was the dead of winter. I mean, everything was frozen. It was awful. We played in this bar
on the 2nd of January. And it was like a couple
of drunks and that was it. And we got paid in pickled eggs. It was brutal. [LAUGHTER] But the next morning, the
guys at the diner where we were spending our
last bit of our money said, we can’t do this. We’re going back to Virginia. And there was this mutiny. And so two of the
guys, they said– and by that time,
one of the guys was starting to really go
crazy, which became a theme in many bands that I was in. And so he said, I’m going to
go to the Detroit bus station. And I’m leaving. And I need you to take me there. And I said, I’m going to
circumnavigate Lake Huron. Come on. Canada’s right there. The Sioux is right there. Let’s get on that bridge. What’s the name of that bridge? Famous bridge. Come on, mom. What’s the name of that bridge? AUDIENCE: The Mackinac Bridge. JASON ANDREAS: The
“Mackinaw” Bridge. KETCH SECOR: Yeah, yeah. The “Mackinaw” Bridge, right. Through the straits– the
Mackinac Straits or whatnot, right. AUDIENCE: Mackinaw. JASON ANDREAS: Yeah. KETCH SECOR: “Mackinaw” Straits. [LAUGHTER] I mean, we were in Sheboygan. So like, right past
the saltwater taffy that was going to get
opened up in six months, because it’s January, was
the “Mackinaw” Bridge. But the boys said, no. So anyway, we’re
headed to Detroit. It’s like a seven-hour drive
from the Straits of “Mackinaw” to Detroit. But thankfully, every
single Burger King was going to give us free
French fries the whole way. And we stopped at 14 of them. [LAUGHTER] And we dropped the naysayer
off at the Detroit bus station. I bet you can see it from here. And he went home to Virginia. And then we went to
Windsor, Ontario. And we cleaned up. And that’s what made me know
that Old Crow Medicine Show was going to go straight
there as soon as we get across the border. What was your question again? JASON ANDREAS: I have no idea. [LAUGHTER] I was asking about your
favorite fast food restaurants. KETCH SECOR:
(LAUGHING) Oh, yeah. [LAUGHTER] JASON ANDREAS: I
think you nailed it. KETCH SECOR: Let’s play a song. JASON ANDREAS:
Yeah, let’s do it. KETCH SECOR: That’ll show how
we translate the busking– JASON ANDREAS: I
was going to say– KETCH SECOR: –to the big stage. JASON ANDREAS: –you guys play
so many instruments, which I think is so fun. If you guys haven’t
been a show, Ketch, you play five or six
instruments maybe? KETCH SECOR: Eight or nine. JASON ANDREAS:
Yeah, eight or nine. I’m sorry. (LAUGHING)
My apologies. I don’t play any, so you’ve
beat me by eight or nine. But I think it’s
great you guys play lots of different instruments. And I assume that
comes from your days of busking and touring. You had to play a little
bit of everything, right? KETCH SECOR: Well,
I always wanted to be in a band that got
pass left or passed right and keep the tune
going at the same time. That seemed like a good
street corner kind of trick. You get a lot of extra
toonies that way. And the other thing is
that this kind of music– I mean, I was never going
to be virtuosic on any of my instruments, because
I didn’t start when I was y’all’s age. How old are y’all? AUDIENCE: I’m seven. JASON ANDREAS: Six. KETCH SECOR: Yeah,
so a lot of people, particularly in
bluegrass music, they start when they’re
really little. They start learning
how to play the violin. They get super good. But I learned to play
the fiddle when I was 18. And I only did it so
I could draw a crowd and do what I really
want to do, which is look everybody in the
eye and ask for money. [LAUGHTER] Because it turned out, I
was more of an entertainer than I was a musician. JASON ANDREAS: Sure. KETCH SECOR: So I learned how
to be an entertainer on about nine different instruments. And I’m pretty decent on them. But I’m not great. If you want to hear
the real thing– [LAUGHTER] Anyway, we’re going
to play a tune now that I taught to Joe earlier
this morning on a ride over in the Uber,
which he had to call. Because I was trying
to hail a cab, (LAUGHING) which you just
can’t do that in Detroit. JASON ANDREAS: Bad idea. [MUSIC – OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW,
“LET’S GET DRUNK AGAIN”] [OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW SINGING
“LET’S GET DRUNK AGAIN”] [APPLAUSE] JASON ANDREAS: We’ll toss
some coins out for that. KETCH SECOR: [LAUGHS] JASON ANDREAS: We’ll toss
some coins in the hat. Awesome. Thank you, guys. I read somewhere, Ketch,
where somebody asked you what your personal
influences are or were. And you said, Bob Dylan,
Bob Dylan, and Bob Dylan. So I think it’s really
interesting– there’s such a really unique
tie-in between you and Old Crow
Medicine Show and Bob Dylan through “Wagon Wheel” and
“Sweet Amarillo” and “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde.” Can you talk a little bit
about kind of the connection that you feel with Bob and some
of the history between the two of you? KETCH SECOR: Sure. Well, I always really liked Bob. And I heard him
when I was a kid. And I went to see him
play for the first time. My mom dropped me off
out front in the minivan. It was so embarrassing. It was 1990. She dropped me off
at a basketball arena at the University of Virginia. The ticket cost $18.50. I got in the concert hall. And I didn’t have
a Bob Dylan record. I didn’t have any reference. All I knew was that I
wanted to see this guy. I knew I’d heard
something about him. And I was 12 years old in 1990. Mom drops me off. I go up to the nosebleed seats. And through the concert,
I can’t understand a single word the man says. [LAUGHTER] [MUMBLES] Except for four. Four words, the whole concert,
can I make out, discern– “hey,” and “mister,” and
“tambourine,” and “man.” [LAUGHTER] And that’s all I needed– four words. The entire cosmos was hung
on four words in a Bob Dylan concert. Everything else was inaudible. And it didn’t matter to me. I left there 12 years old,
ready to learn everything that I could about the man. And I learned
every song I could. And I’m something of a walking
Bob Dylan songbook ever since. JASON ANDREAS: That’s awesome. And “Wagon Wheel”
actually stemmed from kind of a
snippet of Bob Dylan that you kind of stumbled
across and ended up turning into a full song. So there’s dual writing
credits on that song, right? You and Bob? KETCH SECOR: Yeah. JASON ANDREAS: That’s
pretty impressive. KETCH SECOR: We wrote it
together with 28 years in between the pen strokes. JASON ANDREAS: And
how I understand it is that Bob gives credit to
a few folks before him, as well, that kind of led to
inspiration for the song also. And it’s very interesting how
the dynamic of a song like that comes together over 70,
80, 90 years, right. KETCH SECOR: Well, as
soon as I wrote the song, I felt like it was
like a keeper, right. And I thought, oh,
I’ll be playing this one till I’m old and gray. I got to thinking, oh, well,
we need to go out and play this every chance I get. I was 17 when I wrote it. This was like Bob Dylan boot
camp was like 12 to 17– full-on assault position,
ready to absorb everything I could about the guy,
even to the point that I was starting
to rewrite songs that he had already written. And “Wagon Wheel” wasn’t
the first one I did. There was a number of them. But like, I rewrote
“It’s All Right, Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”
and a couple others. But it was already
in that practice, because I’d heard a
lot of music as a kid. And I rewrote the
Lord’s Prayer, too. I mean, I was just one of
those kind of minds that wanted to tinker with words. I’d hear it. I liked it. I was really into jingles– who could ask for anything more? Oh, what a feeling. And y’all weren’t around
then, or y’all would have had the best– JASON ANDREAS: Couple
blank stares on those. [LAUGHS] KETCH SECOR: –“Google’s
on the Block.” I don’t mean you weren’t around. I mean Google wasn’t around. You guys would have
had such great jingles. JASON ANDREAS: Sure. [LAUGHTER] You write a Google
jingle for us? KETCH SECOR: I miss
the jingle era. JASON ANDREAS: Yeah. KETCH SECOR: Y’all ought
to bring that back. God, I’m full of good
ideas this morning. JOE ANDREWS: Hm? KETCH SECOR: I’m just full
of good ideas this morning. JOE ANDREWS: Oh, man. [LAUGHTER] KETCH SECOR: That’s like,
highly marketable right there. We could make a fortune
selling jingles to Google. JOE ANDREWS: We could be
Google’s jingle consultant. KETCH SECOR: Oh my god. Thanks so much for asking me– [LAUGHTER] –to be your new jingle
consultant, Google. I’m just honored that
you would think of that. JOE ANDREWS: I’m glad to
be your co-consultant– JASON ANDREAS: Yeah JOE ANDREWS: –co-chair. KETCH SECOR: We’ll work
out the details later. JASON ANDREAS: Welcome aboard. JOE ANDREWS: Yeah, we’ll
talk about it later. KETCH SECOR: What
were we talking about? JASON ANDREAS: [LAUGHS] KETCH SECOR: Oh, yeah. So I had written
a lot of jingles before about Bob Dylan’s stuff. JASON ANDREAS: There we go. KETCH SECOR: And the sort
of effervescence of my brain was full of fizzy Bob folk
music bubbles kind of thing. And so, well, then,
we moved to Nashville. And we were singing
the song on the street corner and everything. Everybody liked “Rock Me,
Mama, Like a Wagon Wheel.” And so then it was
time to publish it. So we got somebody to get
a hold of Bob’s people. And Bob immediately
wrote back, saying that he didn’t write the
song, that instead it had been written
by a 1950s R&B king out of Memphis named
Arthur Crudup– Big Boy Crudup. Same guy that wrote
[SINGING “THAT’S ALL RIGHT”] for Elvis. And then, so I
listened to his song. I mean, it really didn’t
sound anything like it. And then you realize that Bob’s
like the Cheshire cat, sort of saying, (IMITATING BOB DYLAN)
oh, no, I’m over there right now. [LAUGHTER] But sir, you’re right there.
(IMITATING BOB DYLAN) No, no. I’m there. [LAUGHTER] So he did that, right. And then, but in the liner notes
to the Arthur Crudup record, he said that he hadn’t
written the song either, that he had learned it
from Big Bill Broonzy, recorded in Chicago
in the 1920s. So if you include Darius
Rucker in the mix, the song took 90 years
to go number one. JASON ANDREAS: [LAUGHS] KETCH SECOR: And in its
near century-long gestation, sees shared authorship
and interpretation among three African-Americans
and a Jewish musical icon and me, the skinny
white kid from Virginia. [LAUGHTER] JASON ANDREAS: That’s how
a song is written, right? KETCH SECOR: Yeah. JASON ANDREAS: [LAUGHS] KETCH SECOR: That’s
how you do it, kids. JASON ANDREAS: In
case you’re wondering, dig into the 1920s music catalog
and work on it from there, right? Perfect. Speaking of your writing, I
don’t know if you noticed, but we’ve got your book,
Ketch, sitting right here. KETCH SECOR: Yeah, this
is my first work, y’all. JASON ANDREAS: This
is beautiful, yeah. So it’s called, “Lorraine, the
Girl who Sang the Storm Away,” written by you, but
also, interestingly, illustrated by the great
Higgins Bond, as well, who I think some people
might not know by the name, but they know some
of her illustrations and some of the work she’s done. Could you talk a little bit
about the book and also maybe– KETCH SECOR: Hand
that on up to me. JASON ANDREAS: –a little
bit about Higgins, as well. Bring it on, KETCH SECOR: Well,
I’ve got kids, and I love children’s stories. And children’s books were
really important to me. I was an avid reader. How about you two? Are you all avid readers? JASON ANDREAS: Yes. KETCH SECOR: You
like to read at home? JASON ANDREAS: Absolutely. KETCH SECOR: I like
to read at home, too. And I really liked
writing this book. This is my wonderful
illustrator, Higgins Bond. She’s the first
African-American woman to design a US postage stamp–
went on to make four of them for the United States
Postal Service. And it’s got these
wonderful illustrations. I really wanted to have
there be a children’s book in which Granddad
was named Pa Paw. JASON ANDREAS: [LAUGHS] KETCH SECOR: Because when I
grew up, all of the children’s books, Granddad was
named Grandfather. And he lived in a 57-story
high rise in New York City. Right, aren’t all the children’s
books about living in New York? What’s up with that? JASON ANDREAS: Yeah. KETCH SECOR: I don’t
live in New York. I didn’t want to
live in New York. I don’t live in New York. And my children don’t
live in New York. They don’t take
subways or elevators. They don’t live in apartments. They live in houses. And they drive through
pastoral countrysides often. And the New York
childhood– sure, there’s a lot of
publishing in New York. And there’s a lot
of wonderful things to say about a New
York childhood. But I didn’t have one. And besides, I think if
you compared the literacy rates between New York
childhoods and Tennessee ones, you’d see that we need a
lot more books in Tennessee and maybe some fewer
in New York City. So I wanted to see a
Tennessee childhood in this. I’m just flashing
through it so that you’ll know that you can go to your
favorite independent book retailer and purchase this book. And if you do, every dollar
that you spend on this book will go to support
the school that I started in my neighborhood. Yeah. [APPLAUSE] Thanks. About four years ago,
we opened the doors to the nation’s newest
Episcopal school. And it’s called the Episcopal
School of Nashville. And I’m the founder and the
chairman of the board, y’all– as if I have time for that. JASON ANDREAS: [LAUGHING] KETCH SECOR: But come on. I found a 23rd hour in the day– I mean 26th. And I’m hustling it, y’all. I’m a natural hustler
from the curb, from the streets of Windsor. [LAUGHTER] JASON ANDREAS: From
the streets of Windsor to opening schools in Nashville. I appreciate it. Let me just ask. Can I ask you to
play another song? KETCH SECOR: Yeah. We’re going to do
one more for you. And before we do it, I’m going
to tell you just a quick story. [PLUCKS VIOLIN] I’ve been having a lot of
fun playing this violin. This violin belonged to
a great country music maker named Roy Acuff. And Roy gave it to a young
cat who’s now an old cat. And that old cat gave it to me. And someday, I’ll give it
to some young cat, too. In the excitement and
hoopla over Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road”
earlier this summer, we went to Bonnaroo to play. And we’d worked up “Old
Town Road” into the set. And we started playing it. And it’s Bonnaroo, so
it’s a real young crowd. Everybody likes it. But there were other audiences
that we would play it, and you could see
the polarization that the song created in the
longtime listeners of country music and then the
new kind of hip, young listeners who didn’t
care if it was country or not, and the old folks who might
want to keep it all separate. But every time that
I would play it, I would always
make sure everyone knew that I had just played
it on Roy Acuff’s fiddle. So in case there was
any question or concern about whether it was
country music or not, that Roy Acuff’s fiddle
had the last word. [LAUGHTER] So anyway, we’re not going
to play that song right now, because I’ve since forgotten
all of those rhymes. JOE ANDREWS: They
probably know it, though. KETCH SECOR: You
guys know that one? JASON ANDREAS: They do. [STRUMS GUITAR] They like to dance to it. I don’t know if
they know the words. KETCH SECOR: They do. JASON ANDREAS: But they
love dancing to it, so. KETCH SECOR: So
anyway, we’re going to play something on Roy
Acuff’s fiddle for you now. [MUSIC – OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW,
“WAGON WHEEL”] [OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW SINGING
“WAGON WHEEL”] [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] JASON ANDREAS: Nice, guys. That was awesome. Any audience questions? I wanted to open it up just to
see if we have maybe one or two audience questions. Here comes Laura. AUDIENCE: Thank you for playing
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” My dad sang that song to me
my whole life growing up. So that was really special. KETCH SECOR: Oh, great. AUDIENCE: Appreciate that. JASON ANDREAS: It’s also one
of my favorite songs, too. So thank you, as well. AUDIENCE: And then,
remember how you said you’d play Kris Kristoffersson? KETCH SECOR: Oh, yeah. [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: You got
it in you still? KETCH SECOR: Sure, yeah. AUDIENCE: That’s my
question– can you? [LAUGHTER] Thank you! KETCH SECOR: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] We can. JASON ANDREAS: Thank you, Laura. [LAUGHTER] They can’t get enough. Thank you. KETCH SECOR: One time we
were playing at Bonnaroo. And Kris was there. And he was watching. Oh, I know, because we were
playing with John Prine. And I was blowing harmonica. And John Prine was watching. And it was so great. And he came up, and he gave
me a big hug afterwards. I hope that there’s something
in y’all’s work that feels somewhere in that realm, just
because it’s the greatest feeling for a person to have a
job in which they can get a hug from Kris Kristoffersson. And I don’t know
what the equivalent is for that at Google, Detroit. But surely there’s
something that can happen here that can make
you feel something similar. I know that I’ve brushed my
teeth down here in the Google bathroom. [LAUGHTER] [SUCKS TEETH] And the feeling that I
had of using those free, single-serving Colgate packets
and talking with the dishwasher while I brushed– (MUFFLED)
right, so tell me– was such a great and
refreshing feeling. And that’s sort of
what I’m talking about. [LAUGHTER] Every morning you could do
that here at Google, Joe, if this was your job instead
of touring with the Old Crow Medicine Show. JOE ANDREWS: Could
just live here. [STRUMS GUITAR] Do people live here? JASON ANDREAS: I think there’s
a few people that live here, yeah. JOE ANDREWS: There’s
a few people. JASON ANDREAS: Hydner, I think
lives here most of the time. JOE ANDREWS: Pretty much. [MUSIC – OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW,
“ME AND BOBBY MCGEE”] [OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW SINGING
“ME AND BOBBY MCGEE”] [CHEERING AND APPLAUSE] KETCH SECOR: By request. JASON ANDREAS: Thank you, guys. Yeah, thank you, Laura. I think we have
one more question. AUDIENCE: Hi. Thank you so much
for taking this time. This has been incredible. I don’t know if you’ve noticed
me and the girl in the orange have been crying the entire time
because we cry (LAUGHING) when we’re happy. JOE ANDREWS: I have, yes. [LAUGHTER] I have. AUDIENCE: So thank you, Hydner. But I just was wondering,
if you could go back to when you were 18
in Windsor and you’re like getting started,
and obviously, you go through highs
and lows in life, what’s one piece of
advice you would tell that 18-year-old boy
to kind of get you through the highs and the lows? KETCH SECOR: Oh, thanks. That’s a great question. I mean, I would definitely
tell that kid not to sweat it. Because the problem is,
is that I did sweat it. I sweated every part of it. AUDIENCE: Yeah. KETCH SECOR: I didn’t know if
any of it was going to happen. And I fretted that it might not. And yet, it did happen. And it didn’t require me to
lose any sleep over any moment of it– not none of it. It all was going to
be just what it was. And so I wish I could
have saved myself a little bit of that
sleeplessness or despair or grief, just by
saying, hey, man, it’s all going to turn out
the way it’s supposed to. I would have told him that. AUDIENCE: I love it. Thank you. I needed to hear that, too. So [LAUGHS] thank you. JASON ANDREAS: Awesome. [APPLAUSE] Well, Joe, Ketch, thank you so
much for coming in this Friday afternoon. We really appreciate it. This has been
absolutely awesome. I speak for everyone. Thank you so much for
taking the time out of your days to come over
here and share it with us. Mr. And Mrs. Secor, thank
you as well for coming. It’s always nice. The first parents we have had
in of a guest ever before, too. So thank you guys. One more round of applause for
the guys from Old Crow Medicine Show. [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] KETCH SECOR: All right! JASON ANDREAS: All right. KETCH SECOR: Go Tigs! AUDIENCE: Yeah! JASON ANDREAS: (LAUGHING) Yeah. KETCH SECOR: This could
be the year, y’all. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE CONTINUES]

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3 thoughts on “Ketch Secor & Joe Andrews: “Old Crow Medicine Show” | Talks at Google”

  • Why do I get the feeling that the rest of the band makes the new guy wake up early and sit mute while Ketch continues to fall in love with the sound of his own voice.

  • Extremely Impressive, I Liked it a lot, See this New Album 'Monish Jasbird – Death Blow', channel link www.youtube.com/channel/UCv_x5rlxirO-WKjLIyk6okQ?sub_confirmation=1 , if you like to 🙂

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