Catching up with Critter from Old Crow Medicine Show

Critter Fuqua with Old Crow Medicine Show at Troy Gentlemen of the Road Stopover - photo by Daniel MullinsIt seems like everywhere you turn these days, Old Crow Medicine Show is up to something. Whether it’s becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry or taking part in the extremely successful Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Sessions with Mumford & Sons, OCMS has been extremely busy of late.

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to catch up with Critter Fuqua, multi-instrumentalist for Old Crow Medicine Show, about some of the latest happenings with the band.

DM: How are you doing today, Critter?

CF: I’m doing pretty good.

DM: Great. Great. First things first- how does it feel to know you’re a member of the Grand Ole Opry?

CF: Aw, it’s quite surreal. It’s almost unbelievable. It’s such an honor to be a part of the Grand Ole Opry. We, of course, got surprised by Marty Stuart on stage in Cleveland. It’s pretty cool. I can’t believe it. It’s amazing to be asked to be a part of such a hallowed institution.

DM: Did the news come as a quite a bit of a shock to you guys, or did you guys think it was coming?

CF: I thought maybe, but I didn’t know. We’ve always wanted to be and we’ve been playing the Opry for so long. It had kind of fell off of my radar. I thought maybe it would happen and maybe it wouldn’t. I didn’t know. I was hoping. Of course, then I turned around and there was Marty Stuart on stage. I was like “Oh, there’s Marty Stuart. In Cleveland? That doesn’t really make sense.” And then he brought out a microphone with the Grand Ole Opry logo on the front, and then I’m like “Oh! Okay, this is pretty cool!”

DM: This is actually happening!

CF: Yeah, it was really surreal. It was like a dream. It’s pretty cool.

DM: I’m sure it was pretty special to have Marty Stuart be the one to deliver the news to you guys. Y’all are friends with Marty, correct?

Old Crow Medicine Show on the Grand Ole OpryCF: Yeah, we’ve been friends with Marty for pretty much our whole career. Ever since we moved to Nashville. He introduced us when we made our Opry debut, so it’s quite fitting that he would ask us to be members of the Opry. When I say I didn’t ever think we would do it [become members], I didn’t know that we were… I don’t know… I don’t really think about how big we are or nothing. I didn’t know we were at that caliber. I mean, I guess I did in some sense, but it’s pretty cool, because I still look up to those guys like Marty Stuart and the people who play on the Opry, and it’s kinda weird to know that we’re a part of that now. It’s really cool.

DM: To think that you guys have “made it,” when you look back from where you guys have came from, it’s probably still pretty hard to grasp how big you guys have gotten over the past few years,wouldn’t you say?

CF: Yeah, it’s hard to gauge, because I mean I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, I don’t really do social media, you know? I’m watching the Price Is Right right now, as we speak, on my couch. I’m pretty old school, so I don’t know. Shoot, we played for 30,000 people the other day, so I guess that says something!

DM: You mentioned Marty. He’s been doing one of your songs recently, hasn’t he?

CF: Yeah, he’s been doing Tobacco [We Don’t Grow Tobacco]. That’s one of his favorite songs. We played Tobacco with him in Cleveland when he came on stage. Marty’s been our biggest cheerleader here in Nashville. He’s great.

DM: That’s pretty cool. Do you know if Marty plans on recording Tobacco anytime soon?

CF: I don’t know. I don’t know what he’s up to. He could be. I’d love to hear him and the Superlatives do it.

DM: I haven’t heard him do it yet, but my dad saw them do it in concert and said Marty really knocks it out. Hopefully, if he records it, he asks you guys to come team up with him.

CF: That’d be great!

DM: That’s one of my favorite songs off the new album. Now, y’all have been crazy busy this year. In addition to your own extensive tour schedule, I know you guys did a Canada run, you have been a part of Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road tour. What’s it been like working with those guys?

CF: It’s been wonderful. Those guys are great. Mumford & Sons has really been at the top of their game for this new genre of music, whatever you wanna call it, Americana or roots (I tend to shy away from labels). They’re really at the top of their game. It’s really great to be invited to be a part of the Gentlemen of the Road tour with the Mumford & Sons boys and Edward Sharpe, all kinds of acts. It’s a really cool thing that they’re doing and to know that they’ve cited us as an influence. When we play with them and see them and hang out, we’re all just musical peers. We’ve just got kind of a mutual respect for each other, and at the core of it, we just love playing music. It’s fun. It’s almost overwhelming what they’ve got going on with the Gentlemen of the Road tour. They’ve got music, and they come in and take over these little towns that are really financially struggling and just turn it into a, I don’t know, a big festival for everybody. It’s great.

DM: What do you think is the coolest aspect of the Stopover session [Phrase used to describe the mini-festivals hosted by Mumford & Sons] concept that Gentlemen of the Road has been bringing across the globe?

CF: I think the coolest thing is no corporate sponsors. You know?

DM: I didn’t notice that. That’s true.

CF: I noticed they kind of keep it in the family, which is really cool. It creates a lot of jobs for these little towns when they’re coming through, and something they’ll remember forever. It’s not like Mumford & Sons is sponsored by Budweiser, which is pretty cool. It’s keeping true to the music and the spirit of fellowship and the spirit of people gathering for a good time.

DM: Yeah! I didn’t notice that, but that’s pretty cool. You don’t see big advertisements everywhere.

CF: Yeah.

DM: The sole focus is the music. Not about the money.

CF: Yeah, they’ve done a great job with that I think. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.


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About the Author

Daniel Mullins

Daniel Mullins is an IBMA award-winning journalist and broadcaster from southwestern Ohio, with an American Studies degree from Cedarville University. He hosts the Walls of Time: Bluegrass Podcast and his daily radio program, The Daniel Mullins Midday Music Spectacular, on the Real Roots Radio network. He also serves as the station’s music director, programming country, bluegrass, and Americana music.