Story and photo by Mark Carpenter –
For the 14th Christmas season in a row, Country Music Hall of Famers The Oak Ridge Boys brought their Christmas energy and spirit to the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, the quartet of Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban brought their outstanding harmonies to Portsmouth on Dec. 1 as part of their Christmas Celebration Tour 2016.
The show began with about 30 minutes of the group’s mainstream country hits, which of course included “Elvira”, the Oaks’ signature song and number one crossover hit from 1981.
After a brief intermission, the stage transformed into a Winter Wonderland as the “Boys” launched into a celebration of the season with a mixture of traditional Christmas music and the group’s own holiday tunes, including “Santa Claus is Real”, which came right along with a visit from jolly old St. Nicholas himself to visit with each and every child in the sellout crowd.
The show also features a segment where the Oaks gather in rocking chairs around a fireplace and share Christmas memories from their youth and then the show concludes with a series of songs centering around the birth of Jesus, ending with a stirring rendition of a new song, titled “Come To the Manger.”
“It’s about love at Christmas, kids at Christmas, gifts at Christmas, and going home to see family,” said Duane Allen in a recent interview. “It’s about Santa Claus but most of all it’s about that story of what Christmas is all about, and that’s the birth of Jesus Christ . We don’t make any excuses about that. We don’t call it a holiday tour, we call it a Christmas tour.”