Review: The Oak Ridge Boys at The Barns at Wolf Trap

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The The Oak Ridge Boys along with their Mighty Oaks Band performed a dazzling mix of Country and Gospel tunes before a highly appreciative audience on March 20, 2016, Palm Sunday, at The Barns at Wolf Trap. The sold-out concert was part of their Celebration Tour; the band has much to celebrate, having been officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (CMHOF) back in October 2015. The group also has an outstanding 17 Number One hits, and has received five Grammy Awards and four Country Music Awards.

The Oak Ridge Boys. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
The Oak Ridge Boys. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

The Oak Ridge Boys made their second-ever time at Wolf Trap a 90-minute musical extravaganza of the highest order. The Oak Ridge Boys, which include the ever enthusiastic “spokesman” of the group Joe Bonsall (who joked that their busts at the CMHOF have birthdates and no deceased dates); the lead singer Duane Allen; bearded-baritone William Lee Golden; and bass Richard Sterban, have been singing together for 42 years.

The group still produces great music, having released last year, their album Rock of Ages: Hymns and Gospel Favorites.

https://youtu.be/wQz21me2gLo

The positive, life-affirming “Everyday” (I want to shake somebody’s hand), with its message of bringing smiles and happiness to folks you meet, started the concert off on a cheerful note; next up the audience got to clap along with their hit “American Made,” about a home-grown honey of impressive proportions.

https://youtu.be/4Hf9HC2D1YY

Making the mighty Oak Ridge Boys even mightier was The Mighty Oaks Band: keyboardist Ronnie Fairchild; bassist Scotty Simpson; drummer David Northrup; guitarist Roger Eaton; violinist\guitarist Rex Wiseman, and guitarist\stage manager Jeffrey Douglas.

The upbeat “Come On In” (and take your coat off; let me love your hurt away) got the audience swaying in their seats. Next up was the breezy “Going to Take a Lot of River” (to keep this broken heart afloat). Allen soloed beautifully on “Sail Away” (on the wings of love). “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Day Light” kept the concert’s energy going and Sterban’s bass lead\solo powered the ethereal ballad “Dream On.” Wiseman’s fiddle-solo (some folks call it a violin) on “Beautiful Bluebird” took me to a high musical peak.

I could almost see the raven-haired lady The Oak Ridge Boys sang about in “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon” (she played tambourine with a silver jingle). I adored it. (That song was a number three U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks hit back in 1977.) “Roll Tennessee River” featured the baritone-voiced Golden’s impressive lead\solo; it was during that song that The Oak Ridge Boys also showed their strength—four-part harmony sang shoulder-to-shoulder.

The Oak Ridge Boys tapped into their impressive Gospel roots with the sublimely sang “I Love to Tell the Story” (of Jesus and his love). It was a fitting song for Palm Sunday, as was “Time Has Made a Change in Me” (since my childhood days), again led by the bearded sage of the stage, Golden. After the Gospel interlude, the songs “No Matter How Hi I Get” and “There Must Be Something about Me That She Loves,” picked up the pace of the show.

Who hasn’t heard “Boom Boom” (I love the way you walk and the way you talk) and not loved it? Fueled by Sterban’s unforgettable bass, “Boom Boom” worked the audience into a fun-tastic frenzy.

Nothing could beat the high-voltage energy of the band’s cover of The Allman Brother’s “Ramblin’ Man,” which featured an unforgettable guitar solo by Wiseman. Bonsall led the audience in a rousing sing-along rendition of “Elvira” (the number one U.S. Billboard Hot Country Single in the Spring of 1981).

Then the just-plain-fun “Bobby Sue” closed a fantastic concert by one of the most enduring bands in Country music.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

The Oak Ridge Boys along with their Mighty Oaks Band performed twice on March 20, 2016, at The Barns at Wolf Trap – 1635 Trap Road, in Vienna VA. For future events at The Barns of Wolf Trap, go to their calendar of events.