Oak Ridge Boys return with album, book and tour

Published 1:43 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It seems that one certain country and gospel music group is still as popular as it ever was.
The Oak Ridge Boys are back with a new album and tour, and the group is performing this Friday, June 19, inside the Grand Ballroom of the Golden Nugget Casino and Hotel in Lake Charles, La. for ages 21 and older. Tickets 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 group is back in the spotlight in 2015 as it has released a new gospel album, “Rock of Ages: Hymns and Gospel Favorites” which debuted at No. 1 on the Nielsen SoundScan Southern Gospel chart after its May 26 release, and currently sits at number 8 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart.
“These are songs we all grew up on as kids,” said Richard Sterban in a telephone interview. “People who went to church will definitely recognize these songs, like ‘In the Garden’ or ‘In the Sweet By and By’ or ‘Just a Little Talk with Jesus.’ It’s songs we definitely put our heads together on to decide, along with suggestions from the record label and our producer (Ben Isaacs) too.”
Sterban said he and his bandmates were pleased with the results of the album, especially the production work of Isaacs, who is relatively young in age but has plenty of musical experience as part of the gospel bluegrass group, The Isaacs.
“Ben (Isaacs) did a really great job with us on this recording,” Sterban explained. “He allowed the vocals to step out front and be heard, especially the four-part harmonies, and that worked really well with this type of music.”
The Oak Ridge Boys were recently the recipients of tremendous news earlier this year as the group was informed it would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year. The group now joins legendary acts such as Alabama, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, The Statler Brothers and many others in the circle of greats.
“This is probably the thing we are the most excited about right now,” Sterban said of the group’s pending induction on Oct. 25, 2015 in Nashville, Tenn. “That is going to be a big day in the lives of the Oak Ridge Boys for sure. It’s something I have a hard time putting into words, but it’s very special. We’ve accomplished a lot in our career, but, for me, this is the missing piece. We were invited to be part of the Grand Ole Opry four years ago. With this induction, we feel like we are truly part of the family now.”
The Oak Ridge Boys spend an average of 150 days on the road each year, according to Sterban. This group just finished an 11-day run through Canada and is hitting its stride with a busy month of June.
Despite this busy schedule, Sterban said the band has no plans on stopping anytime soon.
“There are no plans to retire,” Sterban stated. “We enjoy what we do and still have fun going out on stage each night and singing for our fans. Health is the key to it all, and, as long as the good Lord continues to bless us, we plan to keep doing it for a long time.”
Along with the new album, the band has a new book, “On the Road with the Oak Ridge Boys,” which was penned by bandmate Joe Besnall. Sterban said it differs from the typical historic perspective of the group and recounts what life is like on a daily basis as a member of the Oak Ridge Boys.
“It’s really an interesting book about the band,” he added. “It gives you insight as to what life is like for us on the bus or at rehearsal. It lets you see what it is like to be in the Oak Ridge Boys and what our lives are like each day.”
With its rich history of music, the song list becomes a bit hard to select as each year progresses, but Sterban said fans will not go away disappointed following Friday’s concert.
“We will do all of the hit songs that people know, like ‘Elvira,’ ‘Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,’” he said. “We will include some gospel songs from our new album, and do some patriotic tunes to honor our military and veterans. We just want to make it a good, all-around show for everyone.”
The group’s new album is available at Cracker Barrel locations across the country and the book is available at most book retail outlets and online. 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.