Old Crow Medicine Show pay their respects to those behind bars — while also giving them something to root for — in their new video for “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer.”
The rowdy jailhouse stomp is on their Grammy-winning album Remedy, and the string band developed a riot of a video full of action and comedic characters to go with it. Filmed inside a real prison, the video features guest appearances by Marty Stuart, Dom Flemons and JP Harris.
Bandleader and history buff Ketch Secor says he was careful not to make light of prison life or the song’s infamous namesake.
“Brushy Mountain is one of those epic prisons,” he told CMT in a phone conversation. “It’s one of the most famous prisons in the South, and it just sounds like an imposing place. It’s up there with Sing Sing, Alcatraz, Attica. There’s a respect that has to be paid when you’re going to make your video actually inside a prison’s walls, actually in prison jumpsuits.”
The video was shot near Nashville at the Tennessee State Prison, which is now decommissioned, but that made the experience no less humbling.
“A lot of our activities were right around the death row area, and it’s just really intense,” said Secor. “It’s really heavy.”
“There’s a whole life going on behind bars in the United States, and it’s so important that country music jump that fence,” he said.
But as you can tell in the video, this song isn’t about reflecting on mistakes or becoming a better person. It’s about a wacky escape plan that seems right out of O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Even so, Secor and company kept their heads in the real world.
“It’s funny, you send out your song to a couple of producers in Nashville, and the video treatments come back basically like Bikini Prison Break,” he said. “You know, it was all about the girls that are washing your cell block down or whatever. But we really pride ourselves on the fact that there’s not a single woman in this video, except the man who plays one.”
Ah yes, the old cross-dressing accomplice ruse.
“We wrote this treatment that just felt like it was fun,” he said. “And if you were on the inside and you got to see this, hopefully you’d be rooting for Cory [Younts] and his escape, and you’d be rooting for Chance [McCoy] and his lipstick and hacksaw.”
Check out the CMT premiere of Old Crow Medicine Show’s video for “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer.”