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Ron Pope finds highest musical gear with new band The Nighthawks

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There’s no way Ron Pope could be happier with the way his new band is playing right now.

“Not only have I not ever been in a band this good, I’ve never seen a band this good,” he said. “If I could quit the band and just watch them be a band without me, it would be my favorite band.”

Pope, a Georgia native, has been a solo artist for most of his career, garnering increasing levels of respect and fandom for his songwriting skills and silky voice. In forming The Nighthawks, he takes what he has established on his own and surrounded himself with a unit he thinks can go toe-to-toe with anyone.

Ron Pope & The Nighthawks will bring its airtight stage show to Oklahoma City 9 p.m. March 10 at the ACM@UCO Performance Lab, 329 E. Sheridan Ave. The band released its self-titled folk debut Jan. 8 and toured Europe before embarking on an American tour Feb. 18.

The band’s vocalist, in an interview with Oklahoma Gazette, said it’s still amazing for him to look out during a show and see that so many people know all the words. Not only has the fan support been there, but Pope called the critical reception unbelievable as well. He said it’s always somewhat unnerving to put out an album because there’s no way of knowing if it will be received as intended.

“If I painted a picture and I think it’s a dog and you look at it and it’s a house, well then, it’s a house. It doesn’t matter what I think,” he said.

Pope considers the band’s debut his greatest artistic achievement to date, but there was once a time for him when imagining this level of success in music would have been laughable.

“When you start the transition from the end of childhood into becoming an adult, the idea ‘I want to be a rock star’ sounds almost as crazy as ‘I want to be a fire truck,’” he said.

The artist attributes his ascension to joining a songwriters circle in college that included current friends Zach Berkman and Paul Hammer and vocal coaching from Don Lawrence, who has worked with performers like Bono and Whitney Houston.

Another thing he said demands him to be great is the immense talent of his fellow bandmates. By surrounding yourself with great people, no matter what art or field, Pope said, you elevate yourself.

Pope has to be on top of his game because he knows there’s someone in the group capable of doing the job just as well, and that includes singing. He said he has never been around a band that included so many great singers.

“It’s like being in a choir, but everyone has a beard and wears a lot of denim,” he said.

When putting an album together, Pope is very conscious of the fact that this is music he will have to live with for a long time. He said he expects to play material from their debut for the remainder of 2016 and maybe part of next year.

In that case, it’s a good thing he put together a project he’s proud to have his name on.

“On some levels, it doesn’t seem like work because I love the record, I love the band and I’m excited to come to Oklahoma City and share this with people,” he said.

Tickets for the show are $15. To order tickets, visit acm.uco.edu.

Print headline: Band man, With help from The Nighthawks, singer-songwriter Ron Pope reaches for the skies.

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