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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Oak Ridge Boys bringing Christmas tour to Akron

12/12/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

The Oak Ridge Boys will perform at the Akron Civic Theatre for their Christmas tour Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The group, from left, includes Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban and Duane Allen.
Photo courtesy of the Akron Civic Theatre
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Dec. 20 will be a unique night at the Akron Civic Theatre as the Oak Ridge Boys take the stage for a show that celebrates Christmas along with the group’s 40th anniversary.

Oak Ridge Boy bass singer Richard Sterban said the group will perform for fans for more than two hours during their second visit to the Civic.

“The Christmas show is basically two shows in one — it’s a real bargain,” Sterban said in a phone interview on a rare day he spent at his home near Nashville the day before Thanksgiving.

The first 45 minutes or so will be a “mini version” of the group’s regular show, he said, and fans hoping to hear classics like “Elvira” and “Thank God for Kids” won’t be disappointed.

After more than 30 years of “Elvira,” which hit the top of country and pop charts in 1981, Sterban insisted he has not tired of singing “Oom poppa mow mow.”

“No, I don’t, because every time I do it, people still go crazy in the audience,” he said.

The 40th anniversary of the Oak Ridge Boys is a pretty big deal, said Sterban. The current lineup of Sterban, William Lee Golden, Duane Allen and Joe Bonsall came together in 1973, though the group itself is nearly 20 years older.

“It’s mind-boggling,” said Sterban.

Sterban said he doesn’t think any of them imagined they’d be doing this so long. However, the boys are still going strong, still enjoying themselves and still making new music, he added.

“While this is our 40th anniversary tour, it is by no means our farewell tour,” he said. As long as the boys are blessed with good health, they’ll keep touring, he added.

After the first half of their show at the Civic, there will be an intermission while the stage is transformed for the Christmas Time’s a Comin’ portion of the show.

The Christmas tour, in its 24th year, has become the biggest part of their year, said Sterban, as the Oak Ridge Boys hit the road right after Thanksgiving dinner and don’t return home until Dec. 23.

In Akron, the group will herald Christmas by reveling in its romantic side and its fun side, Sterban said. Santa Claus, who will join the group for several songs, will go into the audience to meet the children in attendance, Sterban said. The group also will do their well-loved rocking chair segment, where they settle in front of the fireplace on rockers provided by Cracker Barrel, he said, and each singer shares a little about what Christmas means to him.

Before the concert’s end, the Oak Ridge Boys will sing a series of songs about what they consider the true meaning of Christmas — the birth of Jesus, Sterban said.

Sterban said he encourages parents to bring children to the show, which should have something for all ages.

“It’ll be a great way for families to spend time together around the holidays,” he added.

Sterban said the Oak Ridge Boys have a history of uplifting audiences.

“When people come to our shows we take them out of their trouble and worries,” he said.

The Oak Ridge Boys are proud of their contribution to the music business, Sterban added. While awards are nice — they have 12 gold, three platinum, one double platinum album and one double platinum single and were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2011, among other accolades — the group is most proud of the way their music has helped people, Sterban said.

“I think that’s our biggest accomplishment over the years,” he added.

During their show at the Civic, tour partner Compassion International, a Christian child sponsorship organization whose mission is to bring children out of poverty, will have a booth set up in the lobby, Sterban added.

“We’re very impressed with the work that they do,” he said.

Fans can go to www.oakridgeboys.com for more information, including details on a second Oak Ridge Boys Rally at Sea, a seven-day Caribbean cruise starting Feb. 22, and the group’s first live album, The Boys’ Night Out, scheduled to be released sometime after Jan. 1.

The show will start at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $48.50, $41.50 and $31.50 and are available at the Civic Box Office, which can be reached at 330-253-2488, online at www.akroncivic.com or via TicketMaster at 800-745-3000. The Civic Theatre is located at 182 S. Main St.

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