Tonight during their concert in Cleveland, Ohio, Marty Stuart surprised Old Crow Medicine Show and invited them to become the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. Their induction will take place on Tuesday September 17. Wow!! I have already heard from a few folks already. This really is a surprise and in my opinion, and admitting that I am a fan, an outstanding choice.
To give just a little history regarding Old Crow Medicine Show, they formed in 1998 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. While they are described as similar to an old-time string band, their music is actually all over the place, from bluegrass to folk. They have a high energy presence on stage. They were discovered nationally by Doc Watson, the great bluegrass pioneer, in 2000 and since then they have recorded a number of singles and albums. Their most famous song, and what has been adopted as their theme song, is "Wagon Wheel", which Darius Rucker has had great success with. The Old Crow version has sold over 2 million copies and was certified platinum earlier this year. They play a lot of festivals and are very popular with the younger Americana fans and have done a lot of touring with Mumford & Sons, who are one of the biggest acts in American music today. In 2002 they appeared on the televised portion of the Opry on CMT and that was their first national television appearance. They have also been heavily promoted by Marty Stuart.
Old Crow Medicine Show has appeared as guest artists on the Opry since the early 2000's. I saw them on the Opry in December during Marty Stuart's 20th anniversary show as an Opry member and they bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the stage. They were one of the highlights of the night and not only do they play and entertain well, they have fun doing it and involved the audience.
As I mentioned last night, I was very surprised at this news and I think it is a good move by the Opry. Their last several new members have included Darius Rucker, Keith Urban and Blake Shelton, so this is definitely a throw-back in the type of music that has been on the Opry. And I think Old Crow Medicine Show is the type of act that will make semi-regular appearances on the Opry and will fulfill the 10 shows per year requirement.
Some have mentioned the fact that if the Opry was going to go in more of a bluegrass direction with their next member that Dailey & Vincent or Rhonda Vincent should have been considered. I do agree with those thoughts. Dailey & Vincent have had great success in the world of bluegrass. They have won many awards and again have been nominated for various IBMA awards that will be given out in September at their annual show. In my thoughts, that would have been a perfect time to extend an invitation to them to join the show. As far as Rhonda Vincent, that is still a mystery. She wants to be an Opry member, plays the Opry on a regular basis, is well received and liked, yet no invitation seems to be coming. Many have thought that perhaps her association with Martha White, a former Opry sponsor, has something to do with it. That I don't know. But Rhonda has said that the Opry has treated her well and she has nothing bad to say about the Opry.
I also thought that the Opry's next member would be a female. Just looking at the numbers, the Opry is low on females, especially the younger ones. What they have among the younger females do not appear on the Opry on a regular basis and the last half dozen or so new members have been males. I still think we will see a new female member at some point, just not sure when.
What Old Crow Medicine Show does bring to the Opry is a connection to another new group of potential fans of the Opry. While not as big of superstars as Blake, Keith or Darius, they do have a huge following in their circles. Whether that will bring more ticket sales to the Opry remains to be seen, but I think it opens up a new potential market for the Opry. And I always find it interesting when and where these invitations take place. I always thought when the invitations are given at the Opry it creates a very special Opry moment. But it is interesting to see the Opry take these special moments on the road. They have done it in the past with Keith Urban and Craig Morgan coming to mind. Nothing wrong with that I just find it interesting how they decide to do the invites.
Again, I am fine with Old Crow Medicine Show becoming members of the Opry. I think their music in general fits the style of the Opry and only time will tell if this was the right decision or not. I wish them luck and congratulations.