You might know him as a founding member of the Old Crow Medicine Show, an Americana string band that started in September 1998, but now Willie Watson takes the stage with his new string band, which performs at WOW Hall July 24.
Recently performing solo, Watson takes the stage alongside the new band that includes Old Crow alum Ben Gould on upright bass, Sam Schmidt on guitar and mandolin as well as Rosie Newton on fiddle, combining confident folk sounds with highly skilled instrumentalists. Along with going on tour, Watson has also picked up some other skills on the side.
Watson is working on the development of his clothing company, Willie Watson Manufacturing Co., and as an actor had a featured role in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The latter garnered him an Oscar nomination for his song “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” which appeared in the film.
Performing with Old Crow Medicine Show, Watson not only had hit singles like “Wagon Wheel,” a longtime country staple, but he also learned the art of versatility. With his repertoire ranging from gospel and blues to an Irish folk classic, Watson brings a trick-filled bag to the stage July 24.
Watson tells Eugene Weekly, “We were very blessed with the group of musicians and we’ve made this thing really magical.”
“When you’re a kid you just want to be a star and I just want to rock out,” he says. “Over the years, the way I sound, the way I look and act goes really deep with the fans, and the songs I’m singing go really deep to me,” Watson says.
Watson takes modern folk music and intertwines it with older traditions. His song “Gallows Pole” has an acoustic-based sound and tells the story of a condemned child who is waiting for his family to bring him a fortune to save him. This song, and his many others, brings an audience everything it wants and more through the plainspoken stories of traditional folk music.
“The music is the deepest relationship I have,” he says. “I want people to attend and it’s what I’ve always wanted.”