Friday-night act brings songwriting chops with country, rock bonafides
When the Northwest Washington Fair announced that Old Dominion would headline its 2021 grandstand lineup, CEO Chris Pickering said it was the fair’s biggest show yet.
That’s high praise, especially for a fair that has its roots all the way back in 1990 and that once welcomed Trisha Yearwood and surprise guest Garth Brooks to its stage.
That said, turn on country radio anytime in the past six years or so and there would be Old Dominion, producing hit after hit with songs such as “One Man Band,” “Make It Sweet,” “Break Up With Him,” “Snapback” and “Written in the Sand,” among others.
This makes Old Dominion a major addition to the 2021 fair, as they are scheduled to play Friday, Aug. 20.
Much as its name suggests, four of Old Dominion’s members hail from Virginia. The group has its origins with lead singer Matthew Ramsey and drummer Whit Sellers playing drumline at rival Virginia high schools. Ramsey went on to attend Virginia Commonwealth University before heading to Nashville to be a songwriter. He met guitarist and keyboardist Trevor Rosen in Nashville while Ramsey worked as a solo recording artist and songwriter.
Sellers went to James Madison University after graduating from high school, where he met bassist Geoff Sprung and guitarist Brad Tursi.
All five of the members who went on to comprise Old Dominion ended up in Nashville, one way or another, to write songs. They did just that, and many of country music’s biggest hits of the era have a member of Old Dominion on their writing team. The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two” and Blake Shelton’s “Sangria” were both co-written by Rosen, and Dierks Bentley’s “Say You Do” was initially written by Rosen and Ramsey for Old Dominion before Bentley covered it. Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” was co-written by Tursi, and Ramsey wrote Kenny Chesney’s “Save It For a Rainy Day” with Tursi.
Artists like Chris Young, Josh Turner, Michael Ray, Kelsea Ballerini and Chris Morgan all recorded songs written by Old Dominion members.
Originally, Old Dominion formed as a way to showcase the writing talents of its members. However, as the band began to find its footing, it became more and more obvious that Old Dominion was meant to be. They played club dates and house gigs and managed to gain a great deal of popularity on SiriusXM satellite radio. The band signed to Thirty Tigers before heading over to Sony Music Nashville RCA.
The band’s first EP dropped in 2014, debuting at number 33 on the Top Country Album charts. The EP featured the song “Break Up With Him,” which would go on to be the band’s first Top-10 hit. After signing with Nashville RCA in 2015, the band opened for Kenny Chesney before announcing their debut album, “Meat and Candy,” which was released in November 2015.
Before its release, “Break Up With Him” hit number-one on Country Airplay, and the album’s second single, “Snapback,” would reach number-two on the same chart in June of 2016.
The band’s second RCA album, “Happy Endings,” featured the hit single “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart,” which hit number-one on the Country Airplay charts. The album released in August 2017, also featuring the singles “Written in the Sand” and “Hotel Key.”
The band’s third album, the self-titled “Old Dominion,” featured the singles “Make It Sweet,” “One Man Band” and “Some People Do.” “One Man Band” became the band’s highest-peaking Billboard Hot 100 track to date.
“It’s so incredible to be able to sit in your room with your instruments and your bandmates and feel that chemistry and follow it wherever it goes,” Ramsey said.
Old Dominion is a big deal for the fair, especially in its first 10-day iteration and in its return from cancellation last year due to COVID-19.
“We promised this would be our biggest show yet,” CEO Chris Pickering stated in a release. “And it will be, from number of concert-goers to production value.”
The fair will move its stage back for the performance, which will allow an additional 2,500 guests to fill the standing-room only dirt arena.