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Interview:
Old Dominion writes its own ticket to country success
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Matthew Ramsey and the other members of the country's Old Dominion didn't move from their native Virginia -- hence the band name -- to form a group.

And they certainly didn't expect to be in a group that had a big hit single ("Break Up With Her") and played stadiums with Kenny Chesney.

"We kind of keep shaking our head at each other," Ramsey, 38, says by phone from Iowa City. "We moved to Nashville to work on songwriting. I myself thought, 'Man, I can go down there, be surrounded by all that music and learn how to write the best song I can.' And some of the other guys came down to be, like, studio musicians and maybe touring musicians but not necessarily have their own band."

The Old Dominion men were, in fact, successful in their chosen endeavors. Ramsey co-wrote the hit "Chainsaw" for the Band Perry, and other collective credits include songs for Chesney, Chris Young, Tyler Farr and ABC's "Nashville." They even viewed the band as a vehicle for them to hear what their songs sounded like rather than a going concern.

"We were writing songs, so we said, 'Let's go play 'em out and make a little extra money' and started playing show and clubs, just for fun," Ramsey recalls. "It just kinda snowballed, and we got to this piont where we were going, 'I guess we need a booking agent,' and then 'I guess we need a manager' and it kept organically building.

"But there was never a moment where we said, 'Let's form a band and make a run at it.'"

Old Dominion will continue promoting its 2015 debut album "Meat and Candy" throughout the year, including another trek with Chesney. The venues have been getting larger, as have the crowds, and Ramsey says the quintet has slowly been adjusting to its life as a full-time band endeavor.

"It's definitely a different thing, a different animal than the writing world," he explains. "But it's amazing because we're still writing these songs we're performing; we just kind of removed the middle man, in a way. Now we're the ones who are on stage connecting with the audience and we can see the effect these songs have on them and their lives. We're not standing behind the curtain watching from backstage anymore.

That's great, but in a lot of ways it seems ridiculous to us, 'cause we've known each other for so long and been buddies for so long. We keep looking at each other saying, 'Can you believe this, man? People are coming to see US play!'"

Jammin' For Joseph with Old Dominion, Canaan Smith and Cassadee Pope

Thursday, March 10. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $25-$125. Proceeds go to Team Joseph, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.

Note: Old Dominion returns to open for Kenny Chesney on Aug. 13 at Detroit's Ford Field. Visit detroitlions.com/ford-field for details.


Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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