He’s Funny, Too

He’s Funny, Too

Younts tells stories as well as he plays songs

If things don’t work out with the Old Crow Medicine Show, Cory Younts might consider standup comedy. In a phone interview, the mandolin player is quick to segue into funny stories about being chased out of his hometown of Pleasant View, Tenn.; growing up with Pam Tillis’ son, Ben — “She’d just drop him off at our house when she went on the road; my mother didn’t mind”; and his first gig with Old Crow, for which he earned $100 — “a lot of money back then for a 22-year-old” — but played so poorly believed he’d never hear from them again.

The Old Crow story is probably the one worth repeating.

Younts, who started out as a drummer, following in the footsteps of his father, was in a band called The Swindlers in college. While busking on the streets of Nashville, Tenn., he often got to watch Old Crow Medicine Show play.

“I watched them get a lot more money in their tip jar than we did,” he says with a chuckle. “They had a fiddle. They had so much energy. They even had a set list! They were so organized!”

Although he’d shaken hands with the musicians more than once, Younts got to know OCMS founding member Willie Watson at a dive bar they both frequented, and Watson taught Younts to play clawhammer banjo — the style used in the traditional string band music OCMS plays. And in 2003, he invited Younts to fill in for a gig.

“I wanted to do it so bad! I kept thinking, ‘Don’t blow this.’ But I barely knew how to play banjo! We had a rehearsal, and it didn’t take long before I said, ‘Guys, I can’t do it.’ They were doing fiddle tunes really fast all night, and I didn’t even really know the structure, much less how to play them.”

But Younts could play piano, which he’d studied in college, and the band invited him to sit in on the last couple of songs at the show. Excited, Younts got a friend and a pickup truck and dragged an upright piano to the venue. He remembers that Ketch Secor said now he’d have to play the whole show because the piano was on the stage.

“They wrote out a set list, with the key each song was in, handed it to me — and I was horrible,” he recalls. “I was sure I’d never hear from them again! But I got lucky. In 2009, they called me.”

Now, he says, he’s excited to see the band release a new album, “Live At The Ryman,” due out Oct. 4 on Columbia Records, and he’s looking forward to playing Eureka Springs Oct. 5.

“My whole family is from Little Rock, and they’ve all been on my phone telling me how great Eureka Springs is,” he says. “So, yeah, I’m excited.”



Old Crow Medicine Show

WHEN — 8 p.m. Oct. 5

WHERE — Eureka Springs City Auditorium

COST — $49-$89

INFO — theaud.org

BONUS — Charlie Warsham is currently on tour with the band.

Categories: Music