The Oak Ridge Boys are excited to bring family entertainment to Carlton's Black Bear Casino Resort at 7 p.m. Friday, April 19. The show is sold out.
The group will sing a mix of familiar songs such as "American Made," "Bobbie Sue" and one of the most requested, "Elvira," as well as songs from their newest album, "17th Avenue Revival," released in 2018.
"'Thank God For Kids' is a highlight of the show," bass singer Richard Sterban told the Pine Journal. "When William Lee Golden sings the song, he paints a picture. When we look in the audience, you can tell it's touching lives. They're holding hands, they're hugging and some people have tears in their eyes."
The band has scored 12 gold, three platinum and one double-platinum album, as well as a double-platinum single. They have had more than a dozen No. 1 singles and over 30 top 10 hits during their career. They have been honored with many awards and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Oak Ridge Boys began as a gospel group in the 1940s and about 30 singers have cycled through over the years. Golden and Duane Allen joined in the 1960s and Sterban and Joe Bonsall in the early 1970s.
They crossed from strictly gospel into country and pop. It was tough going for a while, but singers like Johnny Cash encouraged them to stay together and continue playing.
Sterban sang backup for Elvis Presley before he made the decision to leave The King for the Boys.
The new album is produced by Dave Cobb, who also produces country artist Chris Stapleton, among others.
The Oak Ridge boys tapped into the group's gospel roots to give listeners the feeling of going to church, he said.
His favorite song on the new album is "Brand New Star."
"It's the happiest song you will ever hear about someone dying," Sterban said. He said the song is a comforting one about someone going to heaven and watching over loved ones as a brand-new star.
Part of the inspiration for the album title, "17th Avenue Revival," is the name of the iconic and nearly demolished Studio A in Nashville, Tenn. The venue was opened by Chet Atkins in 1965 and saw stars like Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Tony Bennett, Keith Urban and of course, the Oak Ridge Boys. It was narrowly saved from the wrecking ball in 2014.
"You can feel the history while recording music there," Sterban said.
He said the group has been blessed with many memorable moments over the years. One of the best began in the 1980s and ended with tears in 2018.
"It was during the 1983 congressional barbecue at the White House," Sterban recalled. He said a tall, lanky gentleman walked onto the stage the Oak Ridge Boys where the group was performing. The man introduced himself as Vice President George W. Bush.
Sterban said Bush told them he was a huge fan, but had to leave before their concert that night and asked if they would humor him and play a few.
"He named some obscure songs, so we knew he really was a fan," Sterban said. "We played a mini-concert right there on the White House lawn."
The group became friends with Bush and were invited to his home in Maine in the summer. The Oak Ridge Boys performed mini-concerts in the Bushes' living room.
"They were wonderful people," Sterban said.
Bush always requested "Amazing Grace." The band would sing it for Bush many times over the years. As Bush got older, he asked the band if they would sing the song at his funeral. They promised they would.
They were performing a Christmas concert in Spokane, Wash., when they heard the news that Bush died. The band took a private jet to the funeral and kept the promise to their old friend. The band whisked back to their Christmas concert venue without missing a date.
Over the roughly 45 years the band has been playing together, they have learned to accept each other's differences.
"We are a team, a brotherhood, the best of friends," Sterban said. "We are too old now to let little things bother us."
As for retiring? Not if they can help it.
"It's what we love doing," Sterban said. "We will keep going as long as we have good health. Nothing lasts forever, including us. The good Lord will let us know."
Sterban said the band is looking forward to performing in Carlton.
"We are going to have a fun time," Sterban said. "We are patriotic guys and we love our country. We will play a patriotic song or two."