Behind the scenes of Old Dominion, a group of tour managers, record label executives, booking agents, publicists and more keep the trains running. While fans see all the action up onstage, so much more goes into building the OD world. Pollstar reached out to those behind Old Dominion to find out what they do and what they love so much about OD. Here, members of Team Dominion share their favorite show and highlights from their life with the band.
VP, Marketing, Sony Music Nashville
Tour Manager, Old Dominion
Tour Manager, Messina Touring Group
Agent, Wasserman Music
Production Manager, Old Dominion
Vice President, Promotion & Radio Marketing, Morris Higham Management
Managing Partner/Co-Founder, The Oriel Co.
Production Designer/Lighting Director, Old Dominion
Assistant Tour Manager, Old Dominion
Producer & Co-Writer, Old Dominion
Kate Des Enfants McMahon
EVP, Messina Touring Group
EVP, Messina Touring Group
Agent, Wasserman Music
Vice President, Promotion & Artist Development, Columbia, Nashville
In your own words, how would you describe how you fit into Old Dominion’s world?
Paige Altone: My role involves coordinating all efforts for Old Dominion within the label, working alongside each department (digital, media, A&R, radio, commercial partnerships, legal, finance, international, etc.) to develop and execute the overall marketing plan. We work in tandem with the broader team – management, agents, promoters, etc. – to ensure we are in lockstep to meet and exceed the band’s goals.
Matt Anderson:I manage the daily aspects of the band, oversee the overall touring entity and ensure that the band is taken care of and that our touring operation is running smoothly. I assist in ensuring that our Old Dominion road family (crew) and band are taken care of as we travel all over the world together.
Candice Baker: I’m the tour manager on the promoter side. I work closely with the agent and manager to conceptualize the tour. From there, I route the tour and strategize with my Messina team on ticketing and marketing plans.
Brian Carico: As Production Manager, I oversee all things on and around the stage. I work with all departments: audio, backline, lighting, video and transportation.
Buffy Cooper: I work on the management side and supervise promotion and radio marketing for the band. This includes airplay, tour marketing and label support.
Carleen Donovan: I oversee the band’s public relations. Working closely with the band’s manager and record label, I conceptualize the media campaigns for the band’s albums and tours.
Kevin Lichty: My job responsibility for Old Dominion is to essentially bring the show to life. I am responsible for designing the overall look of the touring production. This includes the stage, set, video, lighting, etc.
Kelsey Maynard: I handle all of the overall tour travel as far as booking hotels, flights and car rentals as well as coordinating day of show logistics including setting up transportation, meals, credentials and meet and greets. They call me “the glue” as I handle everything that doesn’t have to do with production. What my friends think I do: Travel with the band and party backstage every night. What I think I do: I call it “cruise directing” but whenever I get the chance to book backstage goat yoga, bring in a mobile sauna for the crew in Canada or host a tour-wide guacamole mystery ingredient contest on Cinco De Mayo, those are the days I live for!
Kate Des Enfants McMahon: Person with too many opinions? Passionate fan who annoys the team with 72 ideas? Are those official job descriptions? I think officially my job is “Tour Marketing.” I’ve seen the band since their early inception (actually, Clint Higham invited me to see one of their very first performances at Stubbs. I piped in with, “Wow they are amazing, but why so many covers?” and Clint replied “Um, Kate – they wrote all those songs!” Embarrassing). When the idea of taking the band on their first headline tour floated our way – I got excited. I know this band, I’ve seen this band 100 times, and believe in this band. And we all know, there is nothing worse than true believers!
Rome McMahon: My focus for Old Dominion centers on routing, ticketing and venue deals. I work closely with Candice Baker who really manages the day-to-day tour details and keeps the team on task. She and I will split time on the road for the fall leg of the “No Bad Vibes Tour” and get to experience first-hand why the hard work is worth it.
Nate Ritches: In 2009, I started as an assistant under Clint. That eventually morphed into being Old Dominion’s RA for Dale Morris & Associates, which was purchased by Wasserman. Because we are non-territory here, I am truly an RA for the band. Literally, I’m hands-on in all facets of this band’s career in the agency business. It means I can have a greater range and reach for long-term live development.
Lauren Thomas: Our job is to get songs played on the radio and expose music to radio listeners and country music fans!
What was your favorite Old Dominion concert?
Altone: Their first headlining Red Rocks show in September 2019 was truly magical.
Anderson: Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado, May 2023. This was such a special event for us, because we shared the experience with our entire road family, artist and crew friends and family, many special guests, and of course our incredible OD fans. Red Rocks is not only a magical place to visit, but an even more special place to play a show.
Baker: Red Rocks, May 2023. There were so many factors that made these back-to-back sold-out shows my favorite. My inaugural visit to this iconic venue was met with an electric crowd, special guest Edwin McCain and a surprise appearance by Peyton Manning. These shows came on the heels of a six-week recovery for lead singer Matthew Ramsey after an ATV accident. Having the band back together and in full health added an additional layer of emotion. It was a surreal and unforgettable experience.
Mike Betterton: It’s hard to pick a favorite concert, but The Rave in Milwaukee in 2016, has got to be one of them… the energy in the room that night made me feel like we were about to take three next steps, all at once!
Carico: One of my favorite concerts was our two nights at Red Rocks this year. It was epic! Two sold-out nights with incredible crowds. In addition to Red Rock’s beauty and it is such a spiritual place to be. Those nights were the trifecta to an awe-inspiring moment. Then you consider the deep history and roster of artists that have played at this iconic venue. It should really be on everyone’s bucket list to see a show played here.
Cooper: Sept. 11, 2019, the first time the band played Red Rocks. The crowd was electric and sang every word in the most beautiful setting. It was pure magic!
Donovan: I have to say one of my favorites is the performance I saw at The Stone Pony Summerstage back in August 2019. I’ve seen Old Dominion in stadiums and arenas, but as a New Jersey native, there’s nothing more iconic than The Stone Pony; outdoors with the beach in the background. And this particular night was one of those magical evenings right before summer draws to a close.
Lichty: My favorite show would have to be my first show with Old Dominion at Marathon MusicWorks in January of 2016.
Maynard: While we have played the venue before, this past May 27 and 28 we returned to Red Rocks. When you get the chance to play two nights in a row, it allows our crew to actually sit back and enjoy the show a little more than usual. The combination of a bucket list venue with a great crowd, special guests (Edwin McCain), and perfect weather created the most magical night!
Shane McAnally: My favorite OD concert was in Tahoe in 2021. It was my kids’ first time seeing the guys live and they have been raised listening to Old Dominion, so watching them sing along and dance to all the songs was something I will never forget.
Des Enfants McMahon: After the long dry spell that was COVID, getting to see them on Kenny Chesney’s 2022 tour was mindblowing – they went from being a great band with a lot of hits to being a band that ruled the stage – total superstars! And from that stage to their own big headline tour – seeing that trajectory and being a part of it is the best feeling.
McMahon: I’ve been lucky enough to see Old Dominion perform in small clubs, arenas and all the way up to stadiums. There’s a real OD community at the club and pop-up shows and genuine rock energy in the arenas and stadiums.
Ritches: Over 2,000 shows we’ve booked for the band, it’s impossible. I’ve spent three days thinking about this, and I’m still trying to go there. But if you were going to put a gun to my head, I’d pick our first major market arena sell-out in Chicago. It was the Allstate Arena in Chicago in 2019, and those people came ready. When you’re in Ed Warm’s town, he knows how to reach the people who love music, and what a great breakthrough to the next level.
Thomas: I cannot land on just one show. They are all beautiful and blurry in their own ways. One of my favorite moments with the band was the first ACM Group of the Year Win in Las Vegas. Drinks were tossed and moments went viral.
What’s your favorite Old Dominion song? What is it about that song?
Altone: “So You Go” from Happy Endings. I call it a “punch you in the gut” kind of song with the melodies and lyrics. Is it a happy ending? Is it not? I request it every chance I get!
Anderson: “Beautiful Sky.” To me, this song best encapsulates their elegance as songwriters and also their ability to transform written lines into an emotional feeling through performance. This song tugs at my emotions, and that’s what makes that song so special.
Baker: There are nothing but hits in their setlist, but I’m going with a bit of a deep cut. “Can’t Get You” is my favorite song to see live if and when they play it. It’s such a fun, rock-influenced tune, and the crowd really embraces it. I’m also loving “Can’t Break Up Now” from the forthcoming album, Memory Lane.
Betterton: My favorite song is an album cut called “New York at Night.” It first caught my attention because Brad was singing the lead vocal instead of Matthew. The first time I heard them play it at a show, the crowd went nuts for Brad! I don’t think they were expecting it either…
Carico: “New York at Night” is such a dynamic song and it also features Brad Tursi’s vocal as lead. It is also such a unique song that is timeless and could comfortably live in multiple genres of music. “Be with Me” is another great song that you can’t help to sing along and bob your head up and down to. My kids sometimes make fun of me while listening to it so it must be good.
Cooper: “One Man Band,” it’s just so well written and gives you all the feels. On first listen I knew it would be a career song for them.
Donovan: Awwww, come on Pollstar! Please don’t make me pick just one. Not possible. If I must… I’m going to with these nine, which could also make up I guess my dream Old Dominion setlist. Personally, I love how Old Dominion can be complex and multi-dimensional musically, yet they’re equally adept at these massive choruses you can’t help but sing along to. In no particular order: “I’ll Roll,” “Can’t Break Up Now,” “Freedom Like You,” “Hawaii,” “Snapback,” “Not Everything’s About You,” “So You Go,” “Nowhere Fast,” “Something’s the Same About You.”
Lichty: This is a tough question, They have written so many good songs over the years, but right now I’ve been listening to the first album again and “We Got It Right” has always been one of my favorites.
Maynard: My favorite Old Dominion song is “Hawaii” because within two seconds of the song starting you are immediately transported to the beaches of Hawaii without a care in the world. You cannot help but keep that casual smile on your face during the whole song.
McAnally: My favorite OD song is “Still Writing Songs About You”. It takes me right back to a specific heartbreak and those are always my favorite songs.
Ritches: “Smooth Sailing,” it’s such a great way to approach your life. It’s from their Old Dominion album, and a couple of people almost cut it.
What makes Old Dominion a band rather than a group? How has that heightened their success?
Altone: Their collaborative spirit and the respect they have for each other is undeniable. As someone on their team, I’ve gotten to see it firsthand, and as a fan watching them work and perform together on stage, it’s so in sync. During each performance, you can tell they are all truly having fun while putting on the most entertaining show for their fans. You leave an Old Dominion show saying to yourself, “That wasn’t long enough; I need more.”
Anderson: Old Dominion makes every decision together. Literally every single decision. From the bus layout, to the album cover, to the single releases, to the touring look and feel, to the days off. They make every decision together, travel together, stay together and because of this, they have created a robust bond that is their identity. I’m very proud to be a part of their road team.
Baker: The difference lies in the dedication, collaboration and respect that they have for each other. Old Dominion aren’t five guys that play some songs together. They are a band of songwriters with equal creative input. They are committed to keeping artistry at the forefront, which is why you’ll find that they have also written big hits for other artists, such as Sam Hunt, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban.
Betterton: Each of the band members could have a successful career as a musician or a songwriter in their own right, but when these five guys come together as Old Dominion, they make each other better and each one of them has four partners that relate 100% to all of the struggles and successes that come with being an artist.
Cooper: Everything about this band is organic. This is truly five guys that care for about one another as friends, partners and comrades. They don’t just show up to work but to play and the fans sense and feel that.
Donovan: When you think of classic bands of any genre or era, each member plays a pivotal role in the sound, while displaying his or her own identity at the same time. It doesn’t happen seamlessly this way very often and is definitely rare in any era. This is Old Dominion: a powerful trifecta of top-notch showmanship, dynamic songwriting and impressive musical chops. There’s a reason why each night their performances give fans chills and there’s absolutely nothing like it!
Lichty: To me, a band is a family! You hear the word group thrown around a lot, “group of friends” or a “church group” but when you think of a band it means so much more. I think the success of Old Dominion is partly accredited to the family they’ve created. From the team they have built and surrounded themselves with since day one, to all the success throughout the years it stems from those five guys!
McMahon: As individuals, each one of them is a huge talent, but together they manifest something really special. They genuinely have fun and welcome every single fan to join their party. Then it’s just a sonic joy ride. Seems simple enough, but it’s pretty rare, which makes it pretty special.
Ritches: They write it, produce, record and perform… All of it. They are a very tight unit of lyrical geniuses, masterclass musicians and on stage their chemistry brings all that together. It isn’t three front people backed by a paid band. These guys are the band, writing the songs for the band – and bringing them to life as one group of people. They’re a grown-ass-man band as they say, full grown, looking forward and using their music to make people feel good about life. It says a lot to how the fan relate to them lyrically, socially and especially in their live element. To see these guys, it’s like seeing Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, where they really come together as a solid unit onstage. Yeah, Tom Petty wrote the songs, but that band brought ’em to life.
Thomas: The band and their crew make you feel like an extension of their family – no matter what your role. It’s all about teamwork … paired with a little bit of pre-show tequila