The band has sold out their July 27 show at Bottle & Cork.
This year represents many milestones for Ketch Secor, founding member of the Grammy Award-winning band Old Crow Medicine Show.
While chatting over the phone, the vocalist/fiddler didn’t gloat his newly released album, “Volunteer.” Nor did he boast about celebrating the band’s 20th anniversary.
Secor, however, perked up when discussing his first children’s book, “Lorraine,” which follows a young black girl from the band’s home state of Tennessee. The book is available Oct. 2.
“It’s about a young girl who’s a natural musician,” Secor said. “She lives in a rural landscape with her grandfather. A crow comes into her life and begins to act a bit sketchy. Things go missing and she has to find her inner song when her instrument disappears.”
Friday, the musician and his rootsy band will headline in a sold-out show at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach.
Refusing to be pigeonholed as just a musician, Secor started The Episcopal School of Nashville in 2016, teaching students in pre-K through elementary.
Tennessee’s elementary students have a reputation for ranking near the bottom in literacy.
What’s the silliest purchase you’ve ever made?
I’m so frugal, I can’t believe I bought a thing in 20 years. I’m looking at my body right now — everything that I’m wearing was given to me in an assortment of photo shoots. I haven’t spent my per diem in … I don’t know … 21 days. Man, I’m cheap. Real cheap. Like, cheap to a fault. I’m Ramen noodles at midnight down in the hotel lobby kind of cheap. The craziest thing I’ve ever did was start a school.
What makes the Episcopal School a good institution?
There’s a start-up mentality that a little independent school has got to have in order to survive, so it’s real cost measured; and you do as much of it as you can. The way I’ve been able to be good is by pouring music into the classroom.
What inspired “Lorraine?”
I wrote the story quite a while ago, when I was first getting started with starting this school up. The reason it’s now set to come out this year is because I couldn’t find an illustrator. The publishers kept sending me all of these illustrators. But none of them jived with me. And I was definitely looking for somebody who could help with the Appalachian Jack Tale, a term that is a folk style of storytelling that’s evoked in this narrative.
Then I went out on my own and thought, “Oh my God, I just found [my artist].” She’s the first black woman to design a U.S. postage stamp. I didn’t find her because someone said, “Check out this portfolio or link.” I found her because she taught at a school in Nashville, and I was looking at that art school to see who their roster of illustrators was. That’s also how I found Chance McCoy in Old Crow. The way people have come together in and out of the artistic relationships that I’ve been in, there’s been a real spiritual-journey aspect to it.
For literacy in Tennessee, we are one of those bottom-of-the-list type of states in a lot of regards. Our bottom of the lists have a tendency historically, and presently, to fall heavily on race and class line. It’s really that much more wonderful to have a black heroine in this book that I hope to share with young readers across my state.
You can be pretty vocal about politics. What encouraged that?
It’s a composite of the different encounters I’ve had. I’ve been around a lot of American Indian people, probably more than most white dudes from the east. This band played on the Pine Ridge Reservation and at six Indian schools within the first month of its formation. We didn’t make a video, website, network or try to get our name out there or shop a label deal. We went to the Oglala Lakota Sioux reservation in southwest South Dakota and we played in their school system. We drove there. It was crazy. Anyhow, I think when you expose yourself really young to parts of the population that have been historically disenfranchised, then what blooms in you is advocacy.