This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Gospel-country act The Oak Ridge Boys are so popular they sell out their own theater in Branson, Mo., nearly every night they headline.
But at the holidays, they're known for more then their chart-topping hits, such as "Elvira," "Bobbie Sue" and "American Made." "We've become known for our Christmas music," said Richard Sterban, the quartet's bass singer.
It's the 23rd consecutive year the Oak Ridge Boys have put on a Christmas tour, said tenor Joe Bonsall, as he promoted this year's Utah stopover Nov. 30 at Abravanel Hall.
"All of us love Christmas music, and it's because of the way we were raised," Sterban said. "Waking up in the morning, opening presents. Traditional songs take me back to childhood."
And, boy, do the Boys love Christmas music. They've released five Christmas albums, with plans for their sixth next year. They rearrange favorites such as "Silver Bells," "White Christmas" and "Silent Night," while also writing their own Christmas standards, such as the popular "Uncle Luther Made the Stuffing," written by Bonsall.
Sterban and Bonsall agree that Christmas concerts have become ubiquitous around the holidays, much more so now than 23 years ago. That's why they aim to make their show different.
"Just by being ourselves, that four-part harmony no one sounds quite like we do," Sterban said. "We try not to change who we are."
The funny thing is, the Boys, for years, made it a point to avoid the temptation to perform Christmas songs before Thanksgiving. "We tried to resist it as much as we could," Sterban said, but Christmas comes early to Branson, where most theaters start booking Christmas shows the first week of November. The group has found that fans begin to request the Boys' well-known interpretations of holiday songs as early as Halloween.
Bonsall is also promoting his recently published book of essays, From My Perspective, a follow-up to G.I. Joe and Lillie, which chronicled his parents' love story. Bonsall believes the book would be perfect for Utah fans. "I'm a big fan of the folks in Utah," he said. "We're of the same mindset."
Bonsall's new book focuses on conservative values rather than music, and he's unapologetic about being "a man of God." He believes the stories of the Bible have been twisted and distorted by those on the left, and that the separation of church and state has been "misrepresented" by liberals. "I think we need more God in our life," he said.
The first part of the show will revolve around the Boys' more secular songs such as "Elvira," and then after a short intermission, the stage will be transformed, complete with decorated trees and snow.
After all, the Boys know that their Christmas songs have become as important to fans as their hits. They aim to please, so they'll be recording more Christmas albums, Sterban joked. Eventually, they hope to release as many Christmas albums as Andy Williams.
Oak Ridge Boys
When • Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m.
Where • Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $42 at ArtTix.org or by calling 801-355-ARTS (2787)