The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Celebration Tour Review

by John Tedeski / 2342 days ago / Comments

It is the most wonderful time of year and the Palace Theatre in Greensburg, PA was filled with Christmas cheer in anticipation of the audio and visual stimulation that we were about to receive. The packed house told the tale as we were all there for one reason and one reason only and that reason was none other than the legendary Oak Ridge Boys and their Christmas Celebration Tour.

The legendary Oak Ridge Boys, the most famous line up of the quartet that we all have grown to know and love, have been together since 1973 with the most recognizable of the four, baritone William Lee Golden being a member the longest having joined the group in 1965 when they were still a Southern Gospel quartet, followed by lead Duane Allen in 1966, bass Richard Sterban in 1972 and rounding out the quartet is tenor Joe Bonsall who joined in 1973. What a lot of people do not realize is that the Oak Ridge Boys actually formed back during WWII having morphed out of a quartet at the time known as the Georgia Clodhoppers from Knoxville, Tn.

Although the tour is billed as a Christmas tour, the fans are still treated to a set of some of the Oak Ridge Boys most well-known and loved hits throughout the years. The show is actually split into two sets: Set one consisting of ten of the Oak Ridge Boys most popular hit songs followed by Set two, after a short intermission, which takes everyone on a wintery sleigh ride through twenty of some of the most classic Christmas songs known to mankind, along with a few Oak Ridge Boys original Christmas songs as well, including their brand new song “Brand New Starfrom their new album set for release in March 2018.

This was my first time to hear the Oak Ridge Boys live and in person and being the music enthusiast that I am I was blown away with how good they sounded and performed, especially having been at it for roughly forty-five years; they are no longer spring chickens but they certainly don’t show it in the least. All four members worked the stage gracefully and the backup band was on point, being filled with seasoned veteran musicians. There were several set changes throughout the night, specifically during the Christmas portion of the show. To my surprise, Santa Claus even made a special guest appearance and even took the time to shake hands with audience members and hand out gifts to the few kids who were in attendance.

After taking the stage and performing a song or two, Bonsall made mention about a photo that a woman had posted on their Facebook page of himself and her from 1982 when they performed in Pittsburgh, PA when she was just a little girl. He then asked her to raise her hand if she was there and of course she was. He told her that it was time that they update that picture, and with that said he came down off stage, gave her a big hug, and they took a new picture together. There is nothing more rewarding for a fan than to have those you idolize acknowledge you and treat you like family. That gesture of kindness by Bonsall set the tone for the rest of the night; it was no longer them and us, it was one big happy family celebrating together. I am blessed to have been able to experience it for myself.

Toward the end of the night, we even had a scary scenario play out as an elderly woman in attendance fell victim to a diabetes attack and the show had to be stopped for roughly ten to fifteen minutes while she was attended to by paramedics and removed by stretcher. She was conscious and aware of her surroundings as she left the building and the entire time Bonsall was on the floor assisting any way that he could and as she was being led out he led the audience in singing a verse and chorus of "Amazing Grace" - I had goosebumps from the experience. These were just two very small and kind gestures that go a long way and show the hearts of gold that fill the Oak Ridge Boys stage night after night. I have always liked a lot of their music, but I am now truly a fan of not only their music but of the people they are and what they encompass in a world that is filled with so much hate these days. The love of God surely shines brightly in each of their lives and that is the most important thing that anyone can have and that we all need.

Another highlight of the night was during the Christmas portion of the show, a Christmas fireplace set was wheeled out along with four wicker rocking chairs and the Oak Ridge Boys sat around the fireplace and each reminisced about what Christmas meant to them and recalled one of their favorite childhood Christmas memories along with their favorite Christmas song, which they then performed acapella. They had the audience join them while singing their favorite songs. As I stated earlier, we were all one big happy family that night.

One more tale about what made this such a special night for me, aside from having my wife attend the show with me, hearing songs that were a part of my life growing up combined with the above-mentioned gestures and show highlights, was getting to hear bass vocalist Sterban do his thing. I have been a lifelong Elvis Presley fan and a lot of people do not realize that Sterban, prior to joining the Oak Ridge Boys, sang for approximately a year and a half with Presley as part of J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. I was mesmerized by Sterban’s performance and I am now a bigger fan of his than ever before. He has a larger than life presence about him, akin to Presley, yet with such a humbleness that it is infectious.

If you are looking for a special family Christmas celebration, I highly suggest that you make it a priority to take in an Oak Ridge Boys Christmas concert you will be glad that you did and may wish to make it a family tradition, I know I certainly plan on it. Merry Christmas everyone and may I leave you with a few lyrics to help put you in the Christmas spirit:

 Giddy up oom poppa omm poppa mow mow, Heigh-ho silver, away”

Set 1
1. Everyday

2. American Made

3. Come On In (Baby Take Your Coat Off)

4. Gonna Take A Lot Of River

5. There’s Nothing Between Us (But Love Anymore)

6. Y’all Come Back Saloon

7. Louisiana Red Dirt Highway

8. Roll Tennessee River

9. Thank God For Kids

10. Elvira

Set 2
1. Let It Snow

2. Jingle Bells

3. White Christmas

4. A Christmas Love Song

5. Blue Christmas

6. Christmas Cookies

7. That’s What I Like About Christmas

8. Santa Claus Is Real

9. Sweet Santa Claus

10. Here Comes Santa Claus

11. It’s Christmas Time Once Again

12. Brand New Star

13. Silent Night

14. Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem

15. That’s Christmas To Me

16. Rest In You Tonight

17. Mary Did You Know

18. Amazing Grace

19. Jesus Is Born Today

20. Joy To The World


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The Oak Ridge Boys Tour Dates

05/18/2024 : Tinora Performing Arts Center: Defiance, OH
05/30/2024 : River Spirit Casino Resort: Tulsa, OK
06/07/2024 : Hartville Kitchen: Hartville, OH
06/08/2024 : Hartville Kitchen: Hartville, OH
06/26/2024 : Blue Gate Performing Arts Cent: Shipshewana, IN
06/27/2024 : Blue Gate Performing Arts Cent: Shipshewana, IN
06/28/2024 : Meramec Music Theatre: Steelville, MO
06/29/2024 : Old National Centre: Indianapolis, IN
07/31/2024 : Ocean City Music Pier: Ocean City, NJ
08/01/2024 : Chemung County Fairgrounds: Horseheads, NY
08/02/2024 : Keswick Theatre: Glenside, PA
08/15/2024 : Harvester Performance Center: Rocky Mount, VA
08/16/2024 : Harvester Performance Center: Rocky Mount, VA
08/17/2024 : Shenandoah Valley Music Festiv: Orkney Springs, VA
08/29/2024 : Midwest Old Threshers Reunion: Mount Pleasant, IA
09/06/2024 : The Palace Theatre: Greensburg, PA
09/07/2024 : Weinberg Center For the Arts: Frederick, MD
09/13/2024 : Grand Casino Event Center: Shawnee, OK
09/15/2024 : Kansas State Fair: Hutchinson, KS
10/05/2024 : Mississippi Coliseum: Jackson, MS
10/25/2024 : Greenville Municipal Auditoriu: Greenville, TX
12/07/2024 : Crystal Grand Music Theatre: Wisconsin Dells, WI
12/08/2024 : Crystal Grand Music Theatre: Wisconsin Dells, WI

About John Tedeski

John Tedeski Journalist

I’ve been a musician since the age of 7 when my parents bought me my first drum set. By the age of 16, I was playing the local bar scene. I’ve played around the east coast, and in 1994, through those travels is how I met Founding member of Center Stage Magazine, Tommy Lemon as we were both auditioning for the same band in the Boston Massachusetts area and we’ve been friends ever since. Through the years I’ve met a lot of great musicians such as Vinny Paul (Pantera), Bill Leverty (Firehouse), Ace Frehley (KISS), Marc Ferrari (Keel), Bobby Dall (Poison), and even got to share the stage with Jaime St. James (Black ‘N Blue) and Billy Morris (Warrant), just to name a few. Unfortunately, life had a different path in store for me other than being a full-time musician, yet I’ve been blessed to still be able to play on the weekends with some great local talent. Here I am now with another huge blessing, still within the music world, but this time as a journalist for Center Stage Magazine where I get to talk with and interview musicians who do what I have always longed to do. It’s all good and much less hassle than having to lug my drums all around the country. Rock Out, Roll On & Follow Your Heart ...