By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
With Thanksgiving past, Enid residents soon will begin to think about Christmas.
One of the fun things to do this year is the Christmas concert at Chisholm Trail Coliseum on Dec. 15, featuring the Oak Ridge Boys.
The Oak Ridge Boys still look forward to their shows, said Richard Sterban, longtime bass singer with the group. The performing and creative process keeps them interested in what they do, he said.
Speaking Monday from his home in Hendersonville, Tenn., Sterban said he was spending a rare day at home. Since Oct. 1 the group has been busy and will stay busy through the rest of the year.
The Chisholm Trail Expo Center Christmas show will be a combination of performances, starting off with Oak Ridge Boys favorites such as “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue.” Following intermission, they will do a Christmas show.
“People often want to know if it’s Christmas, will they still hear ‘Elvira’ and ‘Y’all Come Back Saloon.’ We’ll sing those plus some new songs we’ve recorded in the last couple of years,” Sterban said.
The show will be a mini performance of their regular concert, followed by a traditional Christmas program. The program covers many aspects of Christmas, Sterban said, including the romantic side and the fun side featuring Santa Claus, who will come on stage and interact with the audience. The program also features the four sitting in rocking chairs discussing their Christmas memories and what it means to the four of them as individuals.
“It’s a chance for the audience to get to know us a little bit and sing some traditional Christmas carols,” Sterban said.
They close the program with sacred music, in what Sterban calls a family show. There is something for every member of the family, and he encouraged parents to bring their children.
“It’s a great way for families to spend time together around Christmas time,” Sterban said.
The group released a new CD about a month ago in connection with Cracker Barrel, titled “Christmas Times a’ Comin’,” and they will perform some of the songs from that albums.
“Its a nice mixture, and we incorporate the CD into the Christmas show,” Sterban said.
The group has been rehearsing the program and getting the new songs ready for the stage. He said getting a song stage ready takes work, and they are happy about the way it’s turning out.
Next year, the Oak Ridge Boys will celebrate their 40th anniversary together with a special year of performing. A group remaining together for 40 years is rare in the entertainment business, but Sterban said the country music industry is different than other types of entertaining.
“In country music, it’s about the people,” Sterban said. “It’s about real-life experience, and for some reason because of that, people stay loyal to the artist. We’ve stayed together 40 years because we enjoy doing what we do.”
They also enjoy the process of creating new music. Sterban said the group has remained popular because they continue to record music for the current market place.
“We’re blessed to have a lot of hits we can do, plus new music because it puts new energy into us, a new life,” he said.
The group’s first hit came in 1977 with “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” That record rose to No. 2 on the charts and stayed for three weeks.
“That was the record that got us going. We followed that up with 10 No. 1 country records after that until ... we recorded ‘Elvira.’ That rose to No. 1 everywhere,” Sterban said.
He was singing with J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, doing backup for Elvis Presley, when he was called to join the Oak Ridge Boys. They told him their bass singer was leaving and he joined the group in 1972. Duane Allen became a member in 1966, William Lee Golden in 1965 and Joe Bonsall in 1973.
They are recording a special CD and creating a 40-year logo, and are looking at some songs they have recorded in the past, but never released. Another feature next year is a program called “Oak Ridge Boys at Sea,” a cruise that will depart Miami Feb. 28 and return March 4. It will include stops at Key West and Cozumel, and one day at sea before returning to Miami. It will be a chance for Oak Ridge Boys fans to hang out and get to know them. They also are discussing an Oak Ridge Boys University, where each member of the group will hold a seminar to discuss different subjects that are important to them, Sterban said. He will talk about his days with Elvis, and what it was like singing with him. Bonsall is an accomplished writer and has published a number of books. He will discuss writing. Golden is an artist who will discuss his painting, and Allen will discuss producing records and the business side of running a group. Sterban said it will be interesting.
“We’ve never done a cruise before, and we may make it an annual event,” he said.
Sterban said as the group has gotten older they have learned to take care of themselves to try to avoid being sick. They get plenty of rest, watch their diet and try to exercise.
Talking about the Dec. 15 show at the Coliseum, Sterban said it is a family friendly show that children will enjoy. Tickets are $38, $40 and $50.
Tickets can be purchased at the Coliseum box office by calling (580) 237-0238 or online at www.gettix.net.
“It will be a great, fun evening with the Oak Ridge Boys,” he said.