Legendary country and gospel music group The Oak Ridge Boys return to Southwest Louisiana for its annual Christmas tour on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles, La. This is a family show for ages eight and older and tickets are $20-$50 at Ticketmaster outlets.

Holiday season begins early with concert by The Oak Ridge Boys

By Tommy Mann Jr.
The Record
The holiday season will get a jump start just a bit earlier than normal this year as a legendary music act brings its holiday tour to Southwest Louisiana.
The Oak Ridge Boys are back with a new Christmas album and holiday season tour, as the group returns to the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles, La. The Oak Ridge Boys will perform its holiday concert on Saturday, Nov. 19, inside the Grand Ballroom of the Golden Nugget Casino in a special family-oriented event for ages eight and older. Tickets are $20-$50 each and are available at the box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.
The current lineup of the Oak Ridge Boys, which features William Lee Golden, Duane Allen, Richard Sterban and Joe Besnall, has been together for more than 40 years, while the group can trace its origins back to 1943 when it was founded by gospel music singer Wally Fowler in Knoxville, Tenn.
The Oak Ridge Boys are touring for its 27th time for the holidays and are doing so in support of its new album, “Celebrate Christmas,” the band’s seventh holiday release.
According to Sterban, in a recent telephone interview, this is something The Oak Ridge Boys know fans look forward to every year and the group enjoys as well.
“Our Christmas show is really two shows in one,” Sterban said. “We do all of our hit songs that people know and then we take an intermission and come back and doing the Christmas show. The songs cover the fun side of Christmas, the romantic side of Christmas and the spiritual side.
“We started a new segment last year where we come out and sit in four Cracker Barrel rocking chairs and tell stories and talk about what Christmas means to each of us,” he continued. “And Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and we all know that.”
Sterban said the reason The Oak Ridge Boys continue to tour every holiday season is simple.
“We simply love singing Christmas songs,” he added. “We look forward to these shows so much, and it is really a great family event that every one, no matter their age, can enjoy.”
The Oak Ridge Boys are known for hit songs such as “Elvira,” “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,” “Bobbie Sue,” “Fancy Free” and many others, so constructing a set list which combines the band’s country and gospel hits, along with Christmas songs, can be a bit challenging.
“We spread the responsibilities around among the members of the group and making the set list each night is Joe’s (Besnall),” Sterban explained. “He has a knack for knowing what the audience really wants to hear and does a great job. With that being said, we’ve been rehearsing the Christmas show all October and once that Christmas set is down we don’t change it.”
The Oak Ridge Boys were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015 and join legendary acts such as Alabama, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, and The Statler Brothers which have received this honor.
Sterban’s career in music began many years ago, and, many people may not know, he got his first big break as one of the back-up singers for Elvis Presley as part of the J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet.
“For about a year-and-a-half, I sang with the ‘King of Rock and Roll,’” Sterban said. “It was something special and I was so honored to be able to do it. There are so many great memories and stories and it was so great to be able to meet his fans and talk with people because they always had so many questions.”
They say all good things come to an end, but for Sterban, that apparently was not the case.
I got a phone call from William Lee Golden of The Oak Ridge Boys and he told me their bass singer was leaving and wanted to know if I was interested,” Sterban explained. “There was very little hesitation on my part, and a lot of people doubted I should leave, but I think history has proven that I made the right choice.”
For more information about the group, visit oakridgeboys.com, and, for the venue, visit www.goldennugget.com/lakecharles/ for information on upcoming events and tickets.