A local musical trio is scheduled to find a bit of the national music spotlight when it plays Oct. 19 at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, opening for an artist lineup that includes T. Graham Brown.
Night Owl Country Band members struggled for the right words to describe the opportunity to perform at one of the country’s most legendary venues during a showcase of Ralph Stanley music.
“It’s actually not a dream-come-true for me,” said rhythm guitarist Brett Denney. “Because I never ever thought I would even remotely have a chance to play on the Opry stage.”
“Ideally, we’d like to be playing bigger shows — and maybe taking things to that next level,” lead singer and bassist Matt Lee said.
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Until then, the group will play the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair on July 7. The three joined forces Oct. 31, 2015.
“There weren’t very many country bands around here then,” Lee said. “So we figured that was something that was needed.”
The ensemble has gained popularity steadily, playing events ranging from fundraisers such as the annual Smoke On the Square to the Carnival for the Cure.
The trio signed a record deal with Stanley Music Group in Nashville, Tennessee, in May, after label heads found the group’s tunes online.
The label just released the group’s first single, “Cool, Gentle Wind.”
Both Lee and Denney have sung southern gospel music for more than 30 years. Drummer Steve Pardue has played drums in gospel, pop, rock and country groups for more than 25 years.
The group’s current, lengthy, live shows constitute about 75 percent cover tunes and 25 percent original material. Members recently sat before a rehearsal to talk about their music passion.
Q: What keeps you grounded in reality with the Nashville gig approaching?
Lee: Right now, we’ve still got to pay our bills.
Denney: I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. I can’t be thinking this would lead to, well, sold-out stadiums. I know there are a million musicians out there trying to do this exact same thing. And only a very few actually get to do it.
How well do you three get along?
Pardue: I established my dominance early (laughs). Actually, our three personalities are almost identical. When we got together, we had almost an instantaneous bond. And we all have a great sense of humor, but we also have an incredible work ethic.
How do you feel about each other?
Lee: Oh, we don’t really like each other. Actually, we go way, way back (together). And we take time to go out to eat together and stuff like that.
Pardue: All of us have families and daytime jobs. But we don’t see our music just as a second job. We see it as one way to give back (through fundraisers). Wherever all this leads, it leads. But I know nothing is ever going to come between any of us.
You guys have been known for concerts sometimes stretching four hours?
Pardue: We once did three concerts within 24 hours and played a total of about 11 hours of music. As much as we love what we do — and we really do, don’t get me wrong — by that last set, we were so tired it was like, “Please God, just let it end.”
The band has been known among followers for its creative takes on cover tunes?
Pardue: Anything that we ever cover, we obviously want to make it recognizable for the people in the seats. But, by the same token, we have made our living, if I can put it that way, by putting our own twist on things. The song we’re doing may not sound exactly like the original — and that’s never out of disrespect. But people are still hooting and hollering.