Willie Watson, former lead singer and songwriter for Old Crow Medicine Show, is feeling inspired. Inspired by the reverence of the old and the anticipation of the new. After 13 years as a founding member of OCMS, where he gained fans such as Norah Jones and Gillian Welch while also paving the way for other rootsy bands like Mumford and Sons, Watson left the group to pursue a solo career. Invigorated to get back into the studio, Watson is concentrating on those high lonesome vocals so prominently illustrated on “Wagon Wheel” and “Minglewood Blues.”
Hailing from Upstate New York, Watson began playing music in his early teens, eventually honing his skills while busking on the street and joining OCMS. In 2011, Watson partook in the historic “Railroad Revival Tour” with OCMS, Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Traveling exclusively by vintage train, the bands played concerts throughout the Southwest, capturing every moment for the Emmett Malloy helmed “Big Easy Express,” winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. Watson’s career has extended well beyond OCMS, performing and touring with Dave Rawlings Machine and John C. Reilly and Friends, an ongoing project with Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Tom Brosseau.
Fans of OCMS have come to expect the revelry and high-energy brought to their performances. Watson’s solo shows are stripped down and intimate, a mix of music penned throughout his career as well as traditional songs, the outcome of delving into old-time music. Dividing his time between guitar and banjo, Watson’s focus is on his voice, which he utilizes with an effortless maturity aptly described by Megan Frye of AllMusic as the “genius of Watson’s distinctive howl.”