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Old Dominion bringing new music, hits to Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids
Country band infuses humor into music, life
A gag is often as important as a clever lyric or a catchy guitar riff for Old Dominion.
The veteran country band, which has more than its share of inside jokes, is all about cracking each other up. When the band's label asked for an alternate version of songs from its eponymous album, the group complied by creating songs full of meows.
“We take our craft seriously but we don't take ourselves seriously,” vocalist/guitarist Matthew Ramsey said while calling from his Nashville home. “The whole ‘Meow meow’ thing was something we do to be silly. When someone makes a good point, one of us would just say, ‘Meow meow.’
If you go
What: Old Dominion: No Bad Vibes tour, with opening acts Frank Ray, Greylan James and Kassi Ashton
Where: Alliant Energy PowerHouse, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023
Tickets: $30 to $70, creventslive.com/events/2023/old-dominion-no-bad-vibes-tour
Band’s website: weareolddominion.com/home/
“So when the record company asked for different takes on a song, we decided to make the meows, much to the chagrin of our record label, but they pushed it through for us since they knew we were serious about it.”
Old Dominion, performing Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse, is back with “Memory Lane,” a meow-less, four-song EP, which includes the playful “Easier Said with Rum.”
“That song has a wink to it,” Ramsey said. “But that’s just us having fun. It’s just what we do. It’s in a lot of our music since we like to set the tone of happiness and joy. We want people to have fun with our music and at our shows.”
Fun has been integral to Old Dominion’s success. During the band’s early days, Old Dominion’s members put pressure on each other to craft hits.
“When we relaxed the hits came,” Ramsey said. “It’s about being loose. When we write together, the room is full of laughter and that goes into the songs.”
It’s all worked out well for Old Dominion. “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart,” “Break Up With Him” and “Song for Another Time” are just some of the hits the country band with rock overtones has had since forming 16 years ago in Nashville.
Old Dominion -- which also includes guitarist Brad Tursi, guitarist/keyboardist Trevor Rosen, bassist Geoff Sprung and drummer Whit Sellers -- will play the hits and preview tunes from the band’s as yet untitled next album, which should drop at some point this year. It’s uncommon for recording artists to play songs before they’re released.
“We’re aware of that, but we want to play the new songs since the best way to judge a song if it’s good or not is to play it live,” Ramsey said. “We’ve played songs before they were released in the past. I know a lot of other bands don’t do that, but we’re not concerned with what other bands do or don’t do.
“This is all about us, and I believe these days it can help if your song lands on YouTube or Tik Tok. So we’ll play some new songs to go along with the hits and we’ll play some songs that weren’t singles but they’re some of our favorite songs we’ve written.”
Old Dominion also will slip in requests.
“We always check socials, and if someone asks to play a certain song, we try to work it in,” Ramsey said. “We’re there for our fans. If they want to hear certain songs, that’s part of what we deliver.”
Ramsey fronts a country band but he was weaned on rock while growing up in Virginia during the ’90s.
“I remember the first time I saw the video for (Nirvana’s) ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ I stopped and thought, what the heck is this? I was blown away,” he said. “I never heard anything like that. What Nirvana did was just incredible.
“I fell in love with so many of the bands that came out of Seattle,” he added. “One thing I picked up from that world is that it’s about what you want to create. You make something and hopefully the world catches up with it. Soundgarden was my band. I had long hair like (Soundgarden vocalist) Chris Cornell, and when they broke up I didn’t know what to do and I cut my hair.”
Old Dominion doesn’t rock as hard as Soundgarden, but the group has elements of middle-of-the-road rock bands.
“We’re students of music,” Ramsey said. “We watch documentaries and we’ll see as much live music as we can. We played a show with the Doobie Brothers and they just blew us away. We stood there in awe as they killed it. We wondered what they were like back in the day when we were watching them.
“Bands like that have had an effect on us. We’re trying to do what bands like the Doobie Brothers did, which is to put everything we have into this.”
It’s not surprising Old Dominion hasn’t had a personnel change.
“That’s the way it is, since we get along so well,” Ramsey said. “We’re friends first, and we just have so much fun together. I can’t imagine being in a band where you don’t get along. We’re close with each other and we hope to continue on together for many years to come.”