~by Ryan Stacy
Vince Gill. Tanya Tucker. Clint Black. Some of country music’s biggest names have come through the “other” Nashville since the Brown County Music Center opened its doors this past August, and the hits keep coming. On December 10, legendary Country Hall of Famers the Oak Ridge Boys bring their Down Home Christmas show to town, and long-time Oaks fans—and fans of Christmas in general—won’t want to miss this celebration of great music and the seasonal spirit.
One stop among twenty-eight on the current tour across the nation, the show at the BCMC features the multiple-Grammy, CMA, and Dove winners doing what they love most: performing for an audience with a deep connection to the Oak Ridge Boys’ brand of country and gospel. The group’s lineup (Duane Allen, lead vocal; Joe Bonsall, tenor; William Lee Golden, baritone; Richard Sterban, bass) is the longest-running in their forty-five-plus year history together, and the same one that recorded the Oaks’ biggest hits.
Hits that you’re sure to hear on December 10, says Richard, who put the famous “Oom Papa” in the quartet’s smash single “Elvira.” “We’ll play a good number of our country songs, and then do a Christmas set,” he says. Newer songs on the Down Home Christmas tour come from the album of the same name released in October, as well as 2018’s 17th Avenue Revival.
Both the newest albums were produced by another award-winner: Dave Cobb, who works out of Nashville, Tennessee’s RCA Studio A. “Dave’s got such an appreciation for the gospel sound,” says Richard. The Oak Ridge Boys fell in love with the way Cobb was able to capture the intimacy of a live gospel performance, he says, and they credit him with this quality as it comes through on the new Christmas album.
At some point in the show there’s a “rocking chair” part of the show that allows the group to simply talk to the audience, sharing Christmas memories and thoughts about what the holidays signify for them individually. “That’s very important to us,” Richard says. “We want people to know what the true meaning of Christmas is.”
The Oaks’ stop in Brown County holds a special significance for Richard. “We played the Little Nashville Opry a bunch of times,” he says, referring to the longtime country music mainstay that burned down in 2009. “It’ll be great to get back to Brown County and check out the new venue.”
For more information on the Oak Ridge Boys’ December 10 performance at the Brown County Music Center, visit <browncountymusiccenter.com> or call (812) 988-5323.