Oak Ridge Boys shine the light on Christmas | VailDaily.com

Oak Ridge Boys shine the light on Christmas

Nate Day
From left to right: Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys.
Nate Day | Special to the Daily

Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, you’ve probably heard the song “Elvira.” The song is easily the biggest hit produced by the Oak Ridge Boys, and it’s clearly one of their favorites to perform as well.

The Oak Ridge Boys took to the stage at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek on Saturday as part of their Shine the Light on Christmas tour.

The first part of the evening was dedicated to the vocal quartet playing their biggest hits. This portion included “Did I Make a Difference,” which resurfaced recently for a charity concert, “American Made,” “Y’all Come Back Saloon” and more.

The group has been around for several decades now — the original Oak Ridge Boys began in the 1940s, but were replaced by the men that are now in the band by the early ’70s — and it’s been performing nonstop ever since. The youngest of the Oak Ridge Boys is 70 years old, the oldest is 79, so watching the men sing about “silky long hair” and “sexy long legs” was a bit chuckle-worthy. However, their passion for their music was obvious and even after all these years of performing, the band still kept every harmony tight between every ooh, ah and oom papa.

After a brief intermission came the Christmas portion of the evening, where the Oak Ridge Boys performed tunes we’ve all heard (“Jingle Bells,” “Mary Did You Know” and “Silent Night” among them), as well as some hits of their own (“Jesus is Born Today,” “Santa’s Song” and “Thank God for Kids,” among others).

This being their 29th annual Shine the Light on Christmas tour, the men didn’t miss a single note, and obviously had a great deal of fun on stage, especially Joe Bonsall, who pranced around the stage enthusiastically, noting “there’s something about doing pirouette’s at this altitude.”

Sharing Traditions

The Christmas portion also included a visit from Santa Claus, who not only engaged in humorous dialogue with the Oak Ridge Boys, but also wandered the audience, wishing a merry Christmas, and offering a Santa hat to each child (at this show, there happened to be only one, but Bonsall noted that the segment has taken up to 45 minutes at past shows).

The show contained another segment in which a fake fireplace, Christmas tree and four rocking chairs were brought to the stage. Each of the Oak Ridge Boys took their turn to share stories about their childhood Christmases, their music and what this time of year means to them. Most notably, Duane Allen spoke about the individuals that the band members have lost this year — friends, family members and a mentor — including President George H.W. Bush, for whom, the band sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral. The men of the Oak Ridge Boys promised Bush years ago that they’d do so, no matter where the band was or what it was doing, as the band was a personal favorite of his.

Finally, the Oak Ridge Boys discussed that “shine the light” referred to the religious element of the holiday and that the birth of Jesus should not be forgotten as the true reason for Christmas, especially in such dark times.

While each of the men were impressive, Bonsall and base singer Richard Sterban shone especially bright, providing the highest and lowest of notes to round out the harmonies that the group has become so well known for over their 45-year-long career.

The Oak Ridge Boys still know how to put on a show, and show no signs of stopping.

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