Audrey Love

Steven K and the Bounty Hunters had their sights set on the bright lights of Dollywood. The local country music band drove cross-country to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to attend the Josie Music Awards in hopes of bringing home up to five awards.

“This is our first time (being nominated), and we’re pretty excited,” said lead vocalist Steven Kidwell. “We have high hopes. We’re one of only a couple of bands that got five nominations, and the other bands weren’t in our genre.”

The Bounty Hunters have played together as a band close to three years, mostly across Eastern Oregon and the Tri-Cities, Washington, area, and in that time produced two albums — 2016’s “Smoke and Fire” and their latest album, “This Road We’re On,” which will release following the Josie Awards.

Kidwell describes the band’s sound as ranging from folk to traditional country, with their newest album shifting to a more modern country sound. The band writes, composes and produces all of their own music at Osmosis Studios in Boise, Idaho.

Recognition on such a public stage is an unexpected, yet welcome surprise for the band.

I guess it’s kudos for what we’ve spent so many years putting together,” Kidwell said of their five nominations. “We’ve been working hard toward it, with the albums and everything that we do. This isn’t something we just started doing for the fun of it. We’ve all been professional musicians our entire lives.”

Three of the four band members are La Grande natives: Steve Kidwell, lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Earl Davis, bass and vocals; and James Franklin, lead guitar and keyboard. Chuck C. Smith, drums and vocals, hails from Walla Walla, Washington.

Though musicians, they’ve kept their day jobs. Kidwell works as a glass smith at La Grande Paint and Glass, Davis and Franklin are both retired military personnel and Smith drives heavy equipment.

Though they’re content with their current success and standing within the music industry, the Josie Awards will be fertile ground for self-promotion.

See more in Monday's edition of The Observer.