The country/bluegrass Nashville-based, Virginia-bred band enthralled a sold-out Meijer Gardens audience in its triumphant return to the Grand Rapids venue. Review, photos.
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It’s how you know it’s summer in West Michigan.
That’s the tagline used to promote the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and Friday night, those words finally and officially rang true.
After a soggy, slow — and dare we say, straight-up gloomy and kind-of-terrible — spring, summer arrived the day of Old Crow Medicine Show’s sold-out performance at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s newly remodeled outdoor music venue.
The gregarious Southern string band — a veteran amphitheater performer — offered just under 20 songs in a roughly 100-minute set that spanned its 20-plus-year career, with more instrumentation than you could shake a fiddle (or harmonica, banjo, melodica, etc) at.
And yes, that fast-paced list included the uber-successful “Wagon Wheel,” a song originally written by Bob Dylan and later fleshed out by Old Crow lead voice Ketch Secor.
Touring in support of its 2018 album “Volunteer,” Old Crow once again delivered on its promise of Southern country charm as Secor regaled the audience with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of Michigan trivia and folklore.
If audience members had taken a sip of warm whiskey for every reference to a Mitten State city (Grayling, Saginaw, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and “GD” Rapids among them) mentioned, Uber’s stock certainly would’ve soared.
Inevitably, this delightful pandering tracked well with a receptive Meijer Gardens crowd eager to soak up a picture-perfect, it’s-finally-summer evening soundtracked by an acrobatic display of bluegrass wit and talent.
“We’re proud to be with you here on the longest night of the year,” Secor said, repeatedly referencing the summer solstice and the state’s end to a prolonged period of atmospheric purgatory.
This sentiment was eclipsed (slightly) in acclaim by Secor’s declaration that it is now “legal in Michigan to sing a stoner gospel song” before launching into a cover of show opener Charlie Worsham’s “I Hope I’m Stoned When Jesus Takes Me Home.”
On that note, Worsham’s 45-minute warm-up fit the evening’s order of Southern, charming and rollicking good times.
PHOTO GALLERY: Old Crow Medicine Show at Meijer Gardens
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek