The Night Owl Country Band is flying high and wide from their Hope launching spot. And they're not even close to landing.
The band arrived at the Grand Ole Opry, located in Nashville, Tenn., with humbleness and a sense of appreciation to perform in a tribute concert Oct. 19 that honored the late Ralph Stanley, a country music legend and icon.
"From start to finish it was amazing," lead singer Matt Lee says. "No words can explain. It was a great experience for all of us."
Not only did the band meet and perform for industry icons, including Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, but they performed in front of a packed house who gave the band an unbelievable welcome, Lee says.
The guys also unexpectedly met country singer Ben Jones, better known as Cooter from the "Dukes of Hazard" television show, who performed that evening as well, Lee says.
But it wasn't all about the glitz and glamour.
"I was more thinking about the people who came to watch us, family, friends and fans," Denny says. "We were there for a reason and this was our spotlight of our lifetime, maybe. When we stepped out, it was a great feeling."
Among the many highlights of the evening wasn't a person or song, but a place within the Opry.
It is known as the Circle. A six-foot circle of wood that rests in the middle of the Opry stage - originally part of the Opry House stage before the venue was moved in 1974.
If there is any regret guitarist Brett Denny has about the performance, he says it was not getting a picture of he and the guys in that circle.
"We had talked about it, but it was getting kind of late and I didn't want to be part of a reason it was going longer than it did," he says. "I didn't want to be that guy."
Lee says of all the goals he and the guys have set, they've risen to meet each one. From playing Heritage Days to being finalists in Battle of the Bands at the 8 Second Saloon in Indianapolis, they've done it. But for each "pedestal moment" they meet, Lee says, there is another one waiting in the distance.
"The guys know that when we hit these pedestals, they know I want them to savor the moment and remember it because I am going for something bigger the next time," Lee says. "It's going to be hard to go bigger than the Grand Ole Opry, that was huge."
Denny says playing the Opry was something he never thought he would do.
"It is something as a kid I would think about and dream about being able to play on a huge stage somewhere, but as I got older I became a realist," he says. "I looked at it as a big thing to try to get to, but I never thought I would do something like that."
Guitarist Tim Dooley hopes the Nashville performance opens additional doors for the group. But, for the moment, the goal is to get back in the studio.
"We are just trying to be true to ourselves and get better," he says. "We are in the process of writing more songs and hopefully get back in the studio soon."
Among the band's most recent releases are three new singles: "Anymore," "Burnt Bridges," and "Hard Livin'."
"Our next song will be 'Somewhere," Lee says. "Hopefully it will be released between January and February."
This weekend, area fans can catch the band's next performance at WILLow LeaVes of Hope at 7 p.m. Saturday, Lee says. The performance will feature familiar favorites and new material.
It is the outpouring of love and support of from the community that has helped them achieve all they have so far, he says.
"We couldn't ask for more," Lee says."But we still have a lot of work to do. We are going to keep plugging away and doing our thing until we get to our goals."