By Matt Wickstrom
Traditional and modern country music collided last night during a livestreamed Grand Ole Opry from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium featuring Old Crow Medicine Show, Molly Tuttle, Billy Strings and Dom Flemons.
Opry royalty Old Crow Medicine Show got the program off to a rowdy start the howling, foot-stomping bluegrass fury of “8 Dogs 8 Banjos” from the band’s 2014 effort Remedy before welcoming the show’s next guest artist Molly Tuttle to the stage for a joint effort on “Nashville Rising,” a triumphant song that penned in the days following Nashville being devastated by a tornado in early March. While highlighting the destruction, the sound had a resoundingly positive message capped by the harmonious chorus “We’re gonna rise up / Nashville rising / We’re gonna rise up singing again / We’re gonna build it back together / Better than it ever was / Then it’s ever been.”
Tuttle then had the stage all to herself for the emphatic “Take The Journey”—a co-write with Sarah Siskind from 2019’s When You’re Ready—before welcoming Old Crow frontman Ketch Secor back to the stage for a duo performance of “Olympia, WA”—originally done by 90s punk rockers Rancid—that saw Tuttle channel a raspy and angsty, punked-out moniker for as she began singing “Hangin’ out with Lars down on 6th street / He knew that I was in trouble…”
Tuttle and Secor then departed, handing the stage over to Billy Strings, who without his usual bandmates flanked behind him cranked into “Thank You To The Grand Ole Opry,” a song he admitted to writing earlier in the day after being questioned by his manager and girlfriend about what song he was going to play at the Opry. The song touches on Strings’ musical career and how getting to play on the Opry stage alongside his friends is a full circle moment of sorts (“Thank you to the Grand Ole Opry / For giving all my friends a place to play / Oh thank you to the Grand Ole Opry / I’ll just play my song and I’ll be on my way”). The artist, still solo, then dove into a soothing performance of “Watch It Fall” from 2019’s critically acclaimed Home.
Strings then yielded the stage to former Carolina Chocolate Dropper turned solo artist Dom Flemons, who put on a one man band show—singing while also playing harmonica and clacking away on a pair of bones—for a run-through of traditional song “Ole Cindy Gal” before switching the setup out completely for an acoustic guitar for a fiery showing on the Secor-requested “Hot Chicken,” a song from Flemons’ Prospect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus out earlier this year about some dynamite hot chicken the artist had in East Nashville, Tennessee.
Following Flemons’ tasty musical tricks Old Crow came back to the stage along with Tuttle for a performance of the band’s iconic hit song “Wagon Wheel,” which Secor introduced by showing off his fiddle with “Roy C. Acuff” etched on the back. Known as the “King Of Country Music,” Secor recalled a quote from Acuff saying “When you play the Grand Ole Opry you play the song that brought you there in the first place!” before tearing into Old Crow’s certified platinum ballad.
Secor then welcomed all of the show’s guests—Tuttle, Strings and Flemons—back to the stage for a collaborative effort on a show-closing traditional cover of “Mama Don’t Allow” led by the frantic, scat-like vocals of Flemons.
The Grand Ole Opry Live returns next Saturday, Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET with Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker. You can watch the concert on Circle TV or by streaming on Facebook and Youtube on Circle All Access’s pages.
Old Crow Medicine Show, Molly Tuttle, Billy Strings and Dom Flemons at the Grand Ole Opry 8/8/2020 setlist
8 Dogs 8 Banjos 
Nashville Rising 
Take The Journey 
Olympia, WA 
Thank You To The Grand Ole Opry 
Watch It Fall 
Ole Cindy Gal 
Hot Chicken 
Wagon Wheel 
Mama Don’t Allow 
 Old Crow Medicine Show only
 OCMS w/Molly Tuttle
 Molly Tuttle solo
 Molly Tuttle w/Ketch Secor of OCMS
 Billy Strings solo
 Dom Flemons solo
 OCMS w/Tuttle, Strings and Flemons