Just in time for some holiday cheer, The Oak Ridge Boys perform their Country Christmas Show at Firekeepers Casino in Battle Creek, MI.
On Thursday evening, fans of young and old filed into the Event Center at Firekeepers Casino to celebrate the magical holiday spirit with The Oak Ridge Boys as part of their Oak Ridge Boys: The Boys Are Back For Christmas Tour.
Before The Oak Ridge Boys take the stage for their evening performance, a brief history introduction is given of the band and it’s members. It is said that the original Oak Ridge quartet started in 1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee, but spent most of their time working in Oak Ridge, TN. The band started playing The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN in 1948. The Oak Ridge Boys are members of both the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame and the prestigious Country Music Hall Of Fame.
The members include William Lee Golden who joined the band singing baritone in 1965; lead vocalist Duane Allen in 1966; bass vocalist Richard Sterban in 1972 and tenor Joe Bonsall in 1973. Even after all the decades, The Oak Ridge Boys have no plans of stopping from singing or touring any time soon.
As the stage is set up with lit Christmas trees on the band risers, The Oak Ridge Boys arrive on stage singing “Everyday” to a room full of excited fans.
Welcoming the crowd and thanking them for coming, Joe explains to the crowd how they like to get the blood pumping with a few of their “old hits” before going into their Christmas portion of the show. He jokes that it also takes care of the guy who continuously hollers out “play “Elvira.”” They continue next with a few more hits “American Made” and “Y’all Come Back Saloon.”
A lady in the front row is waving an album cover for Joe to notice. As he sees it, he remarks that it is their first Christmas album from 1982. He then laughs and jokingly responds “look at that hair. We had mall hair.” He then takes out a sharpie and signs the cover for her and calls the others over to sign it also. He included that the young guys on the cover were having fun and had the biggest record that had come out of Nashville at that time. Not knowing that they would ever record another Christmas album, they never imagined they would record more than pop-singer Andy Williams. The Christmas album started many things for The Oak Ridge Boys, including the big hit single “Thank God For Kids” sung by William.
As the blood was pumping strongly throughout the Firekeepers Event Center, the boys brought it to life with their signature single “Elvira.” With the crowd standing on their feet and hands waving back and forth in the air, they gave out a cheer each time Richard dove in with his deep bass voice for the chorus “giddy up ba-oom papa oom papa mow mow.”
This is The Oak Ridge Boy’s 28th annual Christmas tour. Snow begins falling over the stage as the Christmas portion of the show starts with “Let It Snow” and “Jingle Bells.”
During the singing of “Santa Claus Is Real” a stage hand waltzes across the stage holding a painting of Santa Claus. As the song ends and the Santa painting exits the stage, a cloud of smoke and fog bellows out from the side of the stage. Emerging from the swirling smoke and fog, Santa appears on stage and shakes hands with the guys before taking a seat at a big red chair set out at center stage. In honor of Santa appearing with them on stage, The Oak Ridge Boys put together a song as a tribute to him by singing “Sweet Santa Claus” as they stand around his chair.
Santa then comes down off the stage and walks through the crowd visiting and shaking hands with those lucky enough to be in the front row while the guys on stage sing “Here Come Santa Claus.” At the conclusion of the song, Santa returns to the stage, waves at the crowd and disappears back into the darkness of side stage.
The stage set changes to showcase a fireplace with stockings hanging on the mantle and a Christmas tree off to the side. In front of the fireplace, four rocking chairs are set out for the guys to have a seat in. During this part of the show, the band exits the stage and the four guys tell stories and sing songs in acappella.
With a brand new album coming out in March, they perform “A Brand New Star In Heaven Tonight” that will be added.
Duane speaks of his love for Christmas and that it is his favorite holiday. Being from a big family in Texas, at Christmas time they would all gather around the piano and sing. That is when he found his love for singing in harmony. Being in The Oak Ridge Boys, he has learned to not just sing in harmony but to be able to live in harmony also. They sing “Silent Night” as it is Duane’s all time favorite Christmas carol.
William grew up on a big cotton and peanut farm in south Alabama where music was around everywhere. His mother taught his sister and him to play instruments when they were little. With his sister playing mandolin and he playing rhythm guitar, they sang in church, schools, and all other events they could find. “This next star makes me think of home” William claims as they perform “Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem.” At the end of the song William added that while he worked in the fields being hot and thirsty, he realized one day he would rather sing than pick cotton. Not knowing where your decisions will lead you, he didn’t think he would ever meet someone from a far away place like New Jersey, as he looked over to Richard sitting in his chair with a grin.
In his deep bass voice, Richard joked that “there is one thing you can count on, you will always get a reaction when you mention New Jersey. Yes it’s true, I am from New Jersey….but from southern New Jersey.” Growing up in his small town as a child, his family would jump in their vehicle and ride around looking at all the Christmas decorations and lights. That was one of his fondest memories. Adding “all of us up here love to sing Christmas music and it’s a big part of who we are.” “That’s Christmas To Me” is off the current Christmas album The Oak Ridge Boys Celebrate Christmas.
Joe mentions that “Christmas is many things in our hearts, music and in our shows. We try to cover many aspects of Christmas. The real reason we celebrate Christmas is about Jesus.”
The Oak Ridge Boys add a bit of their gospel quartet background to the front with the next few songs “Come Down Please Jesus,” “Mary Did You Know” and “Jesus Is Born Today.”
The show concludes as snow begins falling on the stage again for the crowd pleasing “Joy To The World.”
The Oak Ridge Boys come together at center stage and take a bow for the cheering crowd before joining their band on the band risers for another bow before exiting the stage.
The Oak Ridge Boys setlist:
- Everyday 2. American Made 3. Y’all Come Back Saloon 4. Thank God For Kids 5. Elvira 6. Let It Snow 7. Jingle Bells 8. I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas 9. Merry Christmas Baby 10. Blue Christmas 11. Christmas Cookies 12. Santa Claus Is Real 13. Sweet Santa Claus 14. Here Comes Santa Claus 15. It’s Christmas 16. A Brand New Star In Heaven Tonight 17. Silent Night 18. Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem 19. That’s Christmas To Me 20. Come Down Please Jesus 21. Mary Did You Know 22. Jesus Is Born Today 23. Joy To The World
Event Date: 14-DEC-2017