Matt Ramsey isn't surprised that Nashville's expanded boundaries were formed relatively quickly, by new artists fusing elements from other categories and fitting them into a melting pot that has become contemporary country music.
The lead singer of Old Dominion says internet sites like Pandora, Spotify and Amazon Prime have exposed young fans to an unlimited supply of music from all classifications. Teenagers will listen to Miranda Lambert, The Chainsmokers, Mo Pitney and Twenty One Pilots songs while zipping through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
“I love traditional country music. Grew up listening to it,” Ramsey said, in a recent interview, while the band was on tour in Canada. “You don't have to go out and buy albums and CDs anymore. Everything is digital and at your fingertips, all genres of music. It makes sense that it all bleeds into one. We were lucky enough to find a slot that wasn't occupied.”
Old Dominion, a band loaded with powerhouse songwriters, creates a hybrid sound that found a sweet spot in the new country music formula and has quickly risen to the upper echelon of the industry with hits “Song For Another Time,” “Snapback” and “Break Up With Him.”
All three tunes are from “Meat and Candy,” the band's oddly named 2015 debut recording project for RCA Nashville.
“The title came out of the first meeting when trying to discuss what songs to record. There were a lot of fun, ear-candy, sing-along songs,” Ramsey said. “We also knew we needed to throw some meat in there to show we're capable of writing more substantial songs, too.”
Riding the momentum of three smash hit singles, the band was selected New Vocal Group of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 2016.
Old Dominion will appear at HerrinFesta Italiana on May 27. Gates open at 6 p.m. Opening acts include local favorites Kali Lynn and We Got It Covered, featuring lead singer Keenan Rice.
Tickets are $45 for the pit area, $35 for reserved seating and $25 general admission.
HerrinFesta's music lineup this year kicks off with Hairball on May 25, followed by Gary Allan on May 26, Hailstorm on May 28 and closes on Memorial Day with George Thorogood & The Destroyers.
Tickets can be purchase online at www.herrinfesta.com or by calling 618-942-5055.
Old Dominion is currently on the charts with “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart,” the lead single from the group's sophomore album, due out this summer. Writing and recording has already been completed.
“We want to show off a little bit more of our mature side on the new record, to show people we're going to be around for a little bit,” Ramsey said. “We're not just a fluff band. We have something to say.”
Members of the band include: Ramsey, lead vocals and guitar; Trevor Rosen, keyboards and guitar; Whit Sellers, drums; Geoff Strung, bass guitar; and Brad Tursi, lead guitar.
Ramsey graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in illustration, which he promptly stuck in his back pocket when he moved to Nashville in 2000.
“My goal was to learn how to write songs. I hit the ground running. There were a lot of lean years while I was trying to figure things out,” he said.
Ramsey met Rosen in 2003 and forged a songwriting partnership as they pursued solo careers.
A native of the Roanoke, Virginia region, Ramsey and Sellers are from the same area. Each played on the drum line at different high schools.
Sellers went to James Madison University, where he met Tursi and Strung. Eventually, Strung and Sellers migrated to Nashville, while Tursi would go in a different direction and join a rock band.
Old Dominion was formed in 2007 when Ramsey and Rosen joined forces with Sellers and Strung. The objective was to promote songs written by members of the band.
Ramsey penned “Chainsaw” for The Band Perry, “Make You Miss Me” for Sam Hunt, and Kenny Chesney's “Save It For A Rainy Day.” Rosen inked “Neon” for Chris Young and “Better Dig Two” for The Band Perry. Tursi joined Old Dominion in 2012. He wrote “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” for Tyler Farr.
It took the band a while to find the right groove.
They personally financed the release of the “It Was Always Yours” EP in 2012, then had a self-titled album on ReeSmack Records in 2014. They broke out in 2015 with “Meat and Candy,” which contained platinum-selling debut single “Break Up With Him.”
The hit records allowed the band to develop a large fan base, which continues to grow through exposure from touring with Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert, plus a relentless 2016 tour schedule.