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Chart-topping Old Dominion plays at MACC on Friday

Old Dominion is Geoff Sprung (from left), Whit Sellers, Matthew Ramsey, Brad Tursi and Trevor Rosen. Formed in 2007, to initially showcase the songs band members had written, they called themselves Old Dominion after the nickname of the state of Virginia. They will play MACC’s A&B Amphitheater at 6:45 p.m. Friday. Gates open at 5:30. MASON ALLEN photo

Fresh off their win for Vocal Group of the Year at the 2019 CMA Awards, acclaimed country band Old Dominion just scored their eighth No. 1 single as “One Man Band” ascended to the top of the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

“It’s quite a way to end the year,” enthuses Old Dominion lead vocalist and primary songwriter Matthew Ramsey. “It’s a big deal,” he adds about the Vocal Group of the Year award. “To get recognition not only from fans, but from your peers and industry is very rewarding.”

Old Dominion has been hailed as the best country band performing today.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around because we were the little guys for a long time,” he says. “It took years of hard work and suddenly you find yourself in that position. It’s pretty big.”

You just have to look at their YouTube viewing figures to see their popularity. “Break Up with Him,” from the debut album has 40 million views, while “Snapback” has 20 million. “Written In The Sand,” from “Happy Endings,” has 24 million views, and their latest single “One Man Band,” has 33 million views, and 127 million streams.

Widely considered one of the greatest living acoustic guitarists, Tommy Emmanuel returns to MACC tonight at 7:30 p.m., playing Castle Theater with special guests Grank Vignola and Vinnie Raniolo. Emmanuel fuses elements from blues, country, rock, classical and Spanish music.

Heading to Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Friday, Old Dominion includes lead guitarist Brad Tursi, multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rosen, bassist Geoff Sprung, and drummer Whit Sellers. They will be joined by special guest, Australian country musician Morgan Evans.

Ramsey and Rosen were established songwriters before forming the band. Ramsey had co-written number one songs for Kenny Chesney and Sam Hunt, while Rosen had co-written hits for Blake Shelton the Band Perry.

Formed in 2007, to initially showcase the songs band members had written, they called themselves Old Dominion after the nickname of the state of Virginia.

“We never really had a big conversation ‘let’s form a band,’ “ he explains. “We’d known each other for ever. We were all playing music together in some way, shape or form in Virginia. It was never ‘let’s make a run for it and try to get a record deal,’ we were just performing our songs and getting $50 and a free meal and free beer.”

From their debut EP on the band has seen their songs top the Country Airplay chart beginning with “Break Up With Him” in 2015, and their singles have either sold platinum or gold. In 2016, they won the Academy of Country Music award for New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year, and two years later they won both the Academy of Country Music and the CMA’s award for Vocal Group of the Year.

Known for composing catchy songs with great hooks, with their latest album, Old Dominion has crafted their most impressive work to date, reflecting diverse influences that even include flavors of Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen.

“Big, anthemic, stadium types of songs is kind of like what we’re after,” he notes. “Our influences are broad. We never made an effort to be a country band. We were writing Nashville country songs which put us in that category, but when it came to production and sonics, we never wanted to limit ourselves, so we follow what we think a song calls for.”

One of the album’s most memorable and heartfelt tracks, “Some People Do,” is the most sparse sounding with a simple piano backing.

“I wrote it with Thomas Rhett,” he says. “He played these really sad chords on piano and it became such an emotional experience for me. Life is a struggle and we all have hurt people and want to change and be better. I didn’t know if I could record it because I didn’t know if I could sing it (in concert) every night and go through that emotion. The reaction has been so strong. We’ve got so many messages and letters and emails how important that song is to people.”

* Old Dominion plays MACC’s A&B Amphitheater on Friday at 6:45 p.m. Gates open at 5:30. Tickets are $45 (general admission), $55, $65, $85, and $125 (for Gold Circle) (plus applicable fees). Gold Circle seats include premium seating and exclusive access to the Yokouchi Pavilion bars and restrooms. For tickets or more information, visit the box office, call 242-6469, or go online to www.mauiarts.org.

Legendary musicians Alice Cooper, Mick Fleetwood and Dave Mason will join our own legend Willie K for his annual “Willie K & Friends BluesFest” at MACC’s A&B Amphitheater on Saturday.

After a knockout, standing ovation performance with guitarist Avi Ronen opening for WAR last Saturday, Willie will undoubtedly enthrall all backed by his Warehouse Blues Band. Other artists on the bill include Ray Benson of Asleep as the Wheel, the Rock Album Hoku Award-winning Deborah Vial Band, Gretchen Rhodes, John Akapo & Red Dirt, and acclaimed keyboardist/vocalist Davell Crawford.

In September, veteran rocker Cooper released the six-track “Breadcrumbs” EP, a tribute to the garage-rock heroes of his Detroit hometown. And in December, he posted that fans had streamed his songs more than 91 million times in 2019, and he had close to 15 million listeners.

Fellow part-time Maui resident Mason will head out on the road again in late February. Known for hits like “Feelin’ Alright” and “Only You Know and I Know,” in 2019 Mason toured with Stax Records’ guitar legend Steve Cropper and Maui’s Rhodes, who celebrated the New Year on Tuesday at a sold-out show performing with Fleetwood and the Island Rumours Band (Fleetwood, Rhodes and Eric Gilliom will play Fleetwood’s on Front St. again on Jan. 13).

Known as the “Piano Prince of New Orleans,” Crawford is the godson of Roberta Flack and the grandson of vocalist/pianist/composer James “Sugar Boy” Crawford of “Jock-A-Mo” fame. His most recent album, “Dear Fats, I Love You,” paid tribute to Fats Domino, with solo piano renditions of Domino’s songs.

Offbeat Magazine praised: “This pure setting allows the always-creative Crawford to interpret, reinvent, and embellish songs that listeners know so well, with his own masterful and loving touch.”

A Twin Cities Pioneer Press concert review noted: “Crawford is one of New Orleans’ brightest stars, a great ballad singer with a soulful, “church” feel, that evokes the late, great Ray Charles.”

* The “Willie K & Friends BluesFest” is presented at MACC’s A&B Amphitheater on Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m., show at 6. General admission is $40 for adults and $10 for kids 2-12. Assigned seats are $65, $85, with a limited number of $250 VIP packages (plus applicable fees). VIP tickets include premium seating, an opportunity to mix with the artists, access to the Yokouchi Courtyard bars and restrooms, a Willie K CD, and souvenir VIP lanyard. 

Guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel, returns to MACC tonight at 7:30, playing Castle Theater with special guests Frank Vignola and Vinnie Raniolo.

Widely considered one of the greatest living acoustic guitarists, Emmanuel demonstrates extraordinary technical skill, fusing elements from blues, country, rock, classical, and Spanish music, often playing the bass, melody and lead parts at the same time as a one-man-band.

“If there’s anyone who can shred on acoustic guitar with jaw-dropping effect, it’s Tommy Emmanuel,” praised Guitar World. “This man knows how to coax the most expressive melodies, rhythms and counterpoints out of his guitar.”

“For fellow pickers and fans of finger-style guitar, seeing Emmanuel perform was like coming face to face with a god,” lauded a Charleston City Paper review.

Tickets are $25.50, $30.50, $40.50, and $55.50 (plus applicable fees).

Mana’o Radio’s monthly Upcountry Sundays show at Casanova will feature classic country and rock, Upcountry style with Kaina Kountry, and Maverick, featuring Greg DiPiazza and Joel Katz, with drummer Josh Greenbaum playing originals and classic rock and blues. Maverick has just released the new album “Steel Paradise.”

The Von Linne Express will open the show at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door with all proceeds benefiting Mana’o Radio.