Oak Ridge Boys bring their annual Christmas tour to OhioWritten by John Benson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ll have to forgive Oak Ridge Boys singer Richard Sterban if on occasion he messes up a holiday classic. For the last 40 years he’s been busy touring the globe playing for seemingly countless audiences and never missing a lyric.
However, when it comes to a certain Christmas song he’s been singing since he was a kid, well, that’s a different story.
“One of the songs I’m having the hardest time remembering all the words is ‘Here Comes Santa Claus,’” said Sterban, calling from Nashville, “If you ever listen to that song closely, there are a lot of words and it’s easy to get one verse mixed up with another verse.”
At this point in the interview he launches into the serpentine lyrics that even rapid-fire rapper MGK would have to admit are troublesome.
“A lot of those lines are interchangeable, and, well, sometimes I do kind of interchange them,” Sterban laughed. “You know, my thought is with that song it almost doesn’t make any difference. It’s such a fun time. I used to sing with Elvis before I joined the Oak Ridge Boys, and we kind of patterned our arrangement after him.”
Fans will hear that arrangement and more when the Oak Ridge Boys bring their annual Christmas tour to Ohio for a Dec. 21 show at the Stranahan Theater. Started 24 years ago, the seasonal outing finds the act blending new and traditional yuletide tunes with its renowned four-part harmonies.
The Oak Ridge Boys first emerged on the scene in 1973 as a gospel act. Eventually the foursome crossed over into country scoring a 1981 monster hit “Elvira.” The song became their fourth No. 1 country hit, reaching No. 5 on the pop charts. It also went double platinum and won the group a Grammy Award.
Despite its mainstream success, the spiritual nature of the Oak Ridge Boys never left the act, which is why nearly a quarter of a century ago the group started its own Christmas tour. Today, Sterban guesses that fans look forward to the Yuletide shows as much as they do the group’s regular concerts.
“There’s something about four voices harmonizing together that really works well with Christmas music,” Sterban said. “We recorded a total of six Christmas albums in our career. The four of us love Christmas music. The reason we keep doing it is because the demand is there for it. It’s a great family show and a really great way for families to spend some time together around Christmas music.”
If going to an Oak Ridge Boys Christmas show is a possibility, odds are you won’t mind the group singing its hits as well as talking about the spiritual aspects of the holiday. Invariably from the outside looking in, this truly epitomizes the old-timey Oak Ridge Boys vibe.
“After intermission we do a complete Christmas show, which I think is great,” Sterban said. “We just started a couple of years ago a new segment where we have four rocking chairs around a fireplace. It’s great and has become very popular.
“Each Oak Ridge Boy has a chance to talk about childhood Christmas memories. We do some songs that talk about what we consider being the true meaning of Christmas and that’s of course the birth of Jesus. We know that’s important to most of our fans. So the whole show is really a total package.”
WHO: The Oak Ridge Boys
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21
WHERE: Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo
TICKETS: $34.50 to $49.50
INFO: call 419-381-8851 or visit stranahantheater.org