By Mark Carpenter –
For the past 28 holiday seasons, Country Music Hall of Fame members The Oak Ridge Boys have been a part of their fans’ Christmas plans with their annual Christmas tour. On Dec. 13, the Grammy Award-winning group-Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban- brought their 2017 “Celebrate Christmas” tour to one of their annual stops, the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University in Portsmouth.
As always with the Christmas tour, the set begins with many of the Oaks’ mainstream country hits, including Golden singing “Thank God for Kids”, “American Made”, and of course, culminating with the monster cross-over hit “Elvira.”
After a short break, the stage is transformed into a winter setting, with snow and video boards behind the group that depict Christmas scenes to go along with each song performed. The Christmas set begins with “Let It Snow”, and includes a mixture of traditional and contemporary songs, including religious, romantic, and fun holiday tunes, all from the group’s six best-selling Christmas CD’s.
After the group performs “Santa Claus is Real,” the children in the sold-out crowd get a special visit from that jolly old fellow from the North Pole, who takes the time to pass out Santa hats to each and very one of them. Following is the popular “rocking chair” segment, where the quartet rocks by a fireplace, shares stories of their Christmases past, and then sing a favorite Christmas song.
The evening concluded with the Oaks singing about what Bonsall called the “true meaning of Christmas”, with songs such as “Mary, Did You Know?” and “Come to the Manger.”
“Christmas is my favorite time of year,” says Allen. “I love the positive things about the season-the joy, happiness, giving, sharing, time with family, and gifts. The beautiful lights and decorations. Christmas music. Special food. And most of all the true meaning, which of course, is celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The Oak Ridge Boys are members of the Grand Ole Opry and achieved arguably country music’s highest honor in October 2015 when they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.