Fans of the Night Owl Country Band are invited out for a rockin’ evening of music at the band’s much anticipated “Off the Tracks” album release party beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds’ David Boll Theatre.

As Lee and the band look forward to offering one of the first live music performances at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair post-COVID, Lee says he believes people are ready.

“We can tell people want to get back out and do things,” he says. “We can tell because the crowds are much larger than they were before.”

Part of what may be contributing to the excitement is also a noticeable increase in the band’s popularity, he says.

“When COVID hit a lot of bands hung up the towel and didn’t do anything,” Lee says. “But we had to think out of the box. We did our podcast and benefits for Columbus Regional Hospital and WILLow LeaVes of Hope to keep our name out there and I think it worked in our favor.”

The band’s newest studio album, “Off the Tracks,” released by Colt Records in Nashville, Tenn., is the heart and soul of this performance, band members say.

The first single “Country to the Bone” is already rising on the Top 40 Indie Chart, Lee says. The song has also taken off on numerous music outlets, including iTunes and Spotify, he adds.

Guitarist Tim Dooley says the song is fun to play and offers a message that couldn’t be timelier than now.

“I like the message of the song,” Dooley says. “I think it is very timely with the way things are in our country right now. It is a song about unity and bringing everyone together as Americans and putting our political and other beliefs behind us and realizing we are blessed to be in this country.”

Although “Country to the Bone” is hands-down the band favorite, rhythm guitarist Brett Denney says, there’s another track that is rivaling for his vote.

“’Country to the Bone’ is American and it is rockin’,” Denney says. “But the one I wrote, ‘Live Today,’ that is going to be a bit special to me, also. To have people hear a song I wrote.”

About a year and a half in the making, Denney says his style of writing is an ongoing process and he is ready when inspiration strikes.

“No surprise here, I have a Batman book that I write down all my words and phrases in when something hits me,” he says. “The part of the chorus for ‘Live Today’ that says, ‘I’m not promised tomorrow/I gotta just live today’ that is what came to me. I wrote that chorus out and it all just kind of fit. It is going to be fun to have people hear it.”

Denney isn’t the only band member that discovered some room to stretch their creative muscle with the new album.

The track “Runaway Heart” offers a playful, jazzy flavor to NOCB’s country sound that gave fiddler Natalie Gain a chance to show off some of her classical fiddler moves.

“It is a little bit different,” she says. “I like that one because I really got to do some fun experimenting with it and kind of pull out my classical roots because I do some fun runs in that that have me shifting up and down, which you don’t always get to use when you are fiddling.”

Drummer Steve Pardue says he hopes to see all the Certified Night Owls come out to the show and says this album is a treat for long-time fans, as well as a great introduction for new ones.

“We’ve kind of switched things up,” Pardue says. “We didn’t go back to the drawing board, but we evolved a bit and shook things up. There’s some bluegrass sound on there and some different sounds to some of the songs that I think people will like.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the Night Owl sound, Pardue offers a bit of a teaser for Wednesday evening’s performance.

“I think the biggest thing we all stand on is when you come see a live Night Owl show there isn’t one of us that doesn’t give 135, 140 percent,” he says.

“It is certainly high energy; you come to a Night Owl show you are definitely not going to be bored. On top of the covers we perform, you are really going to enjoy the originals we have.”

Looking ahead to the show, Dooley is hopeful for a great crowd to help celebrate not only the new album, but hopefully a turning of the page for live music moving forward. And it isn’t just the crowd he is looking forward to seeing, he says.

“We want everyone to come out and enjoy being together again,” he says. “It has been a rough year. I miss my pineapple whip. I just want to get some pineapple whip and play my guitar for everyone.”
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