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Oak Ridge Boys celebrate Christmas with annual tour

2012 Republican National Convention: Day 2

2012 Republican National Convention: Day 2

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The Oak Ridge Boys


♦ 8 p.m. Dec. 21

♦ North Central College, Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville

♦ Tickets, $45-$60

♦ (630) 637-7469;

Updated: December 20, 2012 10:38AM

Even after four decades, the Oak Ridge Boys are still going strong.

They will help celebrate the holiday season with their show “Christmas Time’s A-Coming” Dec 21 at North Central College in DuPage. The performance will feature a mix of their classic hits as well as holiday favorites performed by lead singer Duane Allen, bass singer Richard Sterban, along with tenor Joe Bonsall and baritone William Lee Golden. The origins of the country and gospel music group traces back to 1945 in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In the late ’60s, Allen joined the group as lead singer. Sterban came on board as the bass singer in 1972.

The Oak Ridge Boys are known for their four-part harmonies and have won dozens of Grammy, Dove, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards. Their latest album “Christmas Time’s A-Coming” was released in late September, and features new and traditional yuletide tunes.

“Over the years, we’ve become known for our Christmas music,” Sterban said. “This CD is a great compilation of Christmas music. There’s a nice balance of traditional and familiar Christmas songs like ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,’ and some new songs as well that tell the Christmas story in a new and different way.”

Sterban marked 40 years as an Oak Ridge Boy in 2012, while Bonsall came on board in 1973.

“Next year will be 40 years that this foursome has been together, so we have a very special 40th anniversary tour planned,” Sterban said. That includes a box set with previously unreleased material, and even a celebratory four-day Caribbean cruise that will be “packed full of good stuff,” he said. “It’s a chance for Oak Ridge Boys fans to spend some time with us and get to know us a little bit.”

They will also host an Oak Ridge Boys University, where each member will talk about things they’re interested in.

“For example, I have a book out called ‘Elvis to Elvira,’” he said. “Prior to joining the Oak Ridge Boys, I … had a chance to sing with Elvis Presley. I’m going to talk about the decision to leave Elvis and join the Oak Ridge Boys. Joe Bonsall has become a very accomplished author in recent years and written several books. William Lee Golden has become a very accomplished artist, so he’s going to talk about painting.”

Sterban says the band has lasted 40 years because they are best friends and have a mutual love and respect for one another.

“I think we realized a long time ago that we need each other and the four of us are a team, even though we are so different,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for 40 years and we don’t plan to quit any time soon. I think the real key to our longevity is that we love doing what we do. We love getting onstage and taking our music live to our fans. We’re still having fun. We still enjoy the creative process of going into the recording studio and creating new music.

“Our Christmas show is the biggest part of our year, and this year, it’s going to be totally revamped,” Sterban said, pointing out that this is the band’s 23rd annual Christmas tour. ”

It’s almost two shows in one, Sterban said, because they will do their hits in the first 45 minutes, including “Elvira” and “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon” followed by the Christmas portion of the program.

“The new CD is incorporated into the new show this year. We cover just about every aspect of Christmas on our Christmas show. We sing songs about the romantic side of Christmas, we sing songs about the fun side of Christmas and we have a great Santa Claus segment. Santa makes an appearance. He actually goes out in the audience and interacts with the kids. Last year we started something new. We bring out four rocking chairs and … the four of us talk about childhood Christmas memories. We close out the show with songs that talk about the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus. There’s something for every member of the family. We really encourage parents to bring their kids to the show.”

Annie Alleman is a local free-lance writer.

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