Matthew Ramsey performs at the 2017 Nashville
Night benefit for the BAMA Food Pantry.
Photo by Ed McCoy

Nashville Night is moving from one end of James River High School (JRHS) to the other when Matthew Ramsey and his group of songwriter friends return for their eighth concert “round” Sunday, Oct. 28.

The five accomplished songwriters will stage their “songwriters round” in the school’s new gym where there will be seating for 1,100.

The rounds have become popular fall concerts in Buchanan where Ramsey grew up and graduated from JRHS in 1996.

The songwriter rounds are regular events in Nashville, but it’s unique to have one go on the road, Ramsey said. During a round, the songwriters take turns singing songs each has written. In the more recent concerts at JRHS, many of the songs are very familiar to country music fans because they have been performed by country music’s top artists, and a number have reached No. 1 on various charts.

All of the proceeds from the concerts have gone to support the Buchanan Area Ministerial Association (BAMA) Food Pantry.

There’s change in the air, though. Ramsey will have an announcement at this year’s concert about what’s coming when they hold their 2019 show, and the impact he hopes it will have on the community.

Ramsey hinted at something bigger for 2019 during the 2017 Nashville Night, and those plans are moving forward he said in a telephone interview Friday morning, and he’s excited about the plans he will announce during the concert.

Demand for tickets the past couple of years has exceeded the 500 seats available in the JRHS auditorium, so this year the gym will be converted to accommodate a stage and other necessities for a concert.

That’s going to allow the sale of 1,100 tickets with two levels of reserved seating along with general admission seats.

“The whole gang is coming…. It’s going to be a great night,” Ramsey said.

Again this fall, five songwriters are back for the Nashville Night round. Along with Ramsey will be Trevor Rosen (also a member of Old Dominion) from Detroit, Matt Jenkins from Texas, Josh Osborne from Kentucky and Shane McAnally from Texas.

“The nature of this show started with idea of helping people in the area— to feed people in the area,” Ramsey said of the first show that was held the first time in Buchanan Theatre in the fall of 2011.

Ramsey said his parents, Tom and Peggy Ramsey, were working with the fledgling BAMA Food Pantry and told him it needed support. Ramsey told them they’d come do a show and hopefully raise a couple thousand dollars— which is what he and three of the other songwriters did.

“A few years ago, never did we think it would get to this point. It was a last minute thrown together thing (in 2011).”

In year three, the songwriters raised almost $5,000 and in year four the round raised over $10,000. “Now, we’re raising over $20,000 and that goes a long way to feed a lot of people,” Ramsey said.

“As it’s grown— we started with no notoriety as songwriters. As we’ve grown, it’s attracted more people and this is an expansion on that,” he said of the move to the gym.

“We have raised quite a bit for the food pantry and allowed them to do things like give donations to things like hurricane relief. We’ve sort of funded them for quite a while. Now we have an opportunity to see other areas of need in the county and see where we can help,” he continued, again hinting of what’s to come.

Ramsey and the other songwriters’ rises in Nashville have coincided to a certain extent with the rise of the band Old Dominion which is having much success the past couple of years and has earned music awards and acclaim in the United States and abroad.

Ramsey is lead singer for the band and Rosen is a band member.

“It’s a mind trip for me to see that sort of thing,” Ramsey said of the reaction the band enjoys from the thousands of fans they now play in front of. “It’s been a long journey. When I see that kind of crowd and walk out on stage…, it’s like, ‘Wow.’”

Ramsey has written and collaborated on several hit songs including The Band Perry’s “Chainsaw,” Craig Morgan’s “Wake Up Lovin’ You,”  Dierks Bentley’s “Say You Do,” Kenny Chesney’s “Save It for a Rainy Day,” among others. He’s also written songs for Old Dominion’s two studio albums— Meat and Candy that included the No. 1 singles “Break Up With Him” and “Song For Another Time” and top five single “Snapback,” and their No. 1 single “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” from their second album, Happy Endings.

Ramsey was also awarded 2017 Songwriter-Artist of the Year at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Country Music Awards.

All five of the songwriters live in Nashville now and have written and collaborated with each other on songs recorded by artists such as Kenny Chesney, Chris Young, Jake Owen, Dierks Bentley, Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert and Sam Hunt, along with songs for Old Dominions.

The songwriters have written a number of songs that have climbed to No. 1 on the music ratings charts, are recipients of gold and platinum records, and Grammies.

Three levels of tickets will be available for the October 28 show— two are reserved seating on the gym floor and the other is general admission bleacher seating.

The reserved tickets are two levels, and one of those is VIP that will get holders into a Meet and Greet with the songwriters after the show.

In the past, the songwriters have met anyone who wanted to spend a few moments with them and get pictures after the Nashville Night concerts.

That’s going to change this year.

“There’s no way they can see 1,100 people,” Peggy Ramsey explained. The Ramseys have worked on the Buchanan end as Nashville Night organizer since the first show in the fall of 2011. Thus the VIP tickets.

“It’s important to us to keep this in the community as much as possible so we’re doing ticket sales the way we are to do that,” Matt Ramsey said.

As in the past, $25 general admission tickets will be available for the bleacher section on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The new reserved seating offers $35 reserved floor seats and the $50 reserved VIP floor seats (first five rows) that will include the Meet and Greet.

Tickets will first be made available to local supporters through a ticket stop at the Buchanan Library Friday, Sept 28 from 12-7 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 29 from 9 a.m.-1 p. m.  The library is on Main Street.

This will allow those who have supported this event a first chance at tickets before event tickets sales are live on line.

Also, for the first time, commemorative event T-shirts will be available at the ticket stop and the evening of the event. They will be $25 each.

Ticket buyers will be able to pick reserved seats on computers that will be manned by volunteers at the library. Those wanting general admission tickets who are paying by check or cash will have a dedicated line.

Credit card sales for general admission and reserve seating will be done on computer.

Doors for the concert will open at 6 p.m. and show time is 7 p.m.