Oak Ridge Boys back in Northeast Mississippi

CORINTH – North Mississippi is an area rich in Christmas traditions, from the hometown Christmas parades, pictures with Santa and family gatherings.
And according to Oak Ridge Boys member Richard Sterban, a Christmas-themed concert in Corinth is quickly becoming a part of the holiday traditions.
“We look forward to coming to North Mississippi and Corinth,” Sterban said. “I think it would be safe to say that we are becoming a Christmas tradition for many families in North Mississippi.”
Sterban and the award-winning quartet will bring the “Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Show” to the Crossroads Arena in Corinth on Saturday.
Although the band plays more than 100 dates a year, Sterban said the Christmas show has taken on a life of its own.
“This is our 20th year doing the Christmas show,” Sterban said. “Initially, we started the Christmas tour the day after Thanksgiving, but it has become so popular that it starts earlier and earlier each year. We will have already played several shows by the time we get to Corinth on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.”
Sterban, who sings bass for the band, said the Christmas show is a mixture of both sacred and secular holiday songs. One of the highlights is an appearance by a very special jovial guest.
“We have a part of the show where Santa Claus joins us onstage,” he said. “We do a wide variety of holiday songs from ‘Silver Bells’ to ‘Silent Night.’ Our Christmas show is something the whole family can enjoy. At the end of the show, we even read part of the Christmas story from scripture. The birth of Jesus Christ is very important to both us and our fans.”

Playing the hits
With numerous hits under the band’s proverbial belt, Sterban said the hardcore fans of the quartet will find something special about the evening.
“The first half of the show is sort of a ‘mini Oak Ridge Boys concert’ for the fans,” Sterban said. “We open up with ‘The Boys Are Back’ from the new album and we play everything from ‘Ya’ll Come Back Saloon’ to ‘Leaving Louisiana (In The Broad Daylight)’ and, of course ,we play ‘Elvira.’ We are also playing ‘G.I. Joe and Lily,’ a song Joe Bonsall wrote about his parents. The video for the song has sort of become a Youtube sensation for us recently.”

Staying relevant
In 2008, the Oak Ridge Boys released “The Boys Are Back,” an album produced by 34-year-old Dave Cobb. The album finds the band covering songs by The White Stripes and John Lee Hooker, among others. It also contains songs written by Jamey Johnson and the son of one of the band’s close friends – the late Waylon Jennings.
“Shooter (Jennings) asked us to sing a track on his last album,” Sterban said. “His daddy was a good friend of ours and we were excited to work with Shooter. We played a show with him in Nashville and the kids went crazy over it. So, we worked with Shooter’s producer David Cobb and he took us into some territory that was different for the Oak Ridge Boys. But the gamble paid off and we have made an album that we are really proud of and we love playing these songs live. ‘The Boys Are Back’ was a way for us to step out of our comfort zone and still remain the Oak Ridge Boys.”

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Jeff Clark/Monroe Journal