Saturday night there is a good chance the sound of the original General Lee’s Dixie horn will herald the start of the evening’s festivities as celebrity cruises up to the Elks Lodge in Columbus for the Night Owl Country Band’s “Indiana Gives Back” benefit concert at 7 p.m.

Arriving in the iconic 1969 Dodge Charger will be this year’s special guests Tom Wopat, known for his role as Luke Duke in the television show ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ and Scott Haggard, son of the late country great Merle Haggard.

Individuals with meet and greet tickets will be the first to welcome the duo as they make their way into the venue, says Night Owl Country Band lead singer Matt Lee.

“Something cool with this show is we are having a meet and greet,” Lee says. “Whoever does the meet and greet will get to see Tom and Scott drive up in the General Lee. It is going to be cool.”

Over the years, the band has had the honor of rubbing elbows and sharing the stage with John Schneider, known for his role as Bo Duke, and Ben Jones, who portrayed Cooter Davenport, in the original television series, Lee says.

“It’s like we’ve come full circle with this show,” Lee says.

Since last year’s benefit was canceled due to the pandemic, Lee and the guys feel this year will certainly make up for lost time. With each benefit show they do for the Wounded Warrior Project, the band becomes more patriotic they say.

“We have always been patriotic,” Lee says. “But the longer we’ve done this show and given back to the Wounded Warrior Project and wrote ‘Made in America’ and then this latest song we are doing now, ’Country to the Bone,’ we are pushing further into being a full patriotic band, also.”

Since the first time they took the stage back in the day, Lee says the Night Owl sound has become much bolder.

“We’ve kind of transitioned our style from outlaw traditional country where we were trying a little bit of this and little bit of that,” Lee says. “We are totally traditional outlaw now.”

And what better way to honor that defiant sound than to share the stage with the son of one of the most well known icons of outlaw country.
Haggard, whose stepfather was a Vietnam veteran who died as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, says organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project hold a special place in his heart, so performing to benefit them is a big deal.

“When I lived in Las Vegas I was the national spokesman for Horses for Heroes,” Haggard explains. “We did things with the veterans and their families.

We would take them out to the ranch, keep their mind off the bad stuff and try to make a positive impact in their life.”
Haggard says he’s looking forward to performing some of his original songs, including the debut of his upcoming new single “Beer Me Up Scotty,” as well as some old favorites.

“I do a lot of my dad’s stuff because everyone wants to hear some Merle,” he says. “I can’t wait, It’s going to be a fun time.”

Not only does the show benefit a tremendous cause, but Haggard says he’s excited he gets to ride in the General Lee. However, Haggard hopes there is a little room to renegotiate the seating arrangement.

“I am going to try to talk him into letting me drive that thing,” Haggard says. “He always rode shotgun anyway.”

NOCB rhythm guitarist Brett Denney says he’s not only excited about playing Saturday night, but considers it a great honor for many reasons.

“It is just an honor and privilege for us to pick an organization like the Wounded Warrior Project,” he says. “It makes us proud to raise money and give money back to them. We are very patriotic and it is right up our alley.”

Of course, playing with the other half of the Duke boys doesn’t hurt either.

“Oh, man, I think it will just kind of round it all out,” Denney says. “To be able to play with John Schneider and to be able to play with Tom Wopat – It will make nice bookends I think.”