Two shots at The Oak Ridge Boys

Group performs in Frederick, Md., and Shippensburg, Pa.

Group performs in Frederick, Md., and Shippensburg, Pa.

September 13, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

"Bob-Bob-Bob-Bob-Bobbie Sue."

"Giddy Up oom poppa omm poppa mow mow."

And so it goes for Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys.

Rarely a day goes by when someone doesn't ask him to demonstrate his rich bass by singing a line from the band's hits "Bobbie Sue" and "Elvira."

"It's kind of interesting to be doing that on stage and looking out in the audience and seeing young kids, trying to be an aspiring bass singer and put their finger in their ear and try to do that," Sterban said during a recent telephone interview.

"I guess that's a compliment in a way," he said.

Fans of The Oak Ridge Boys, a band whose music spans more than six decades, from 45s to downloads, will have at least two opportunities in the Tri-State area to hear them perform this month.


They are performing Sunday, Sept. 16, during the Great Frederick Fair in Frederick, Md., and Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa.

The Great Frederick Fair features a number of country artists, including Gretchen Wilson, Lonestar and Rockin' Road House with Mark Chesnutt, Lorrie Morgan and Aaron Tippin.

Sterban said fans can expect to hear some of the Boys' hits, such as "Elvira," "Dream On" and "Bobbie Sue"; some gospel songs; and newer material such as "Hard to Be Cool (In a Minivan)" from the group's latest original album.

The Oak Ridge Boys' history dates back to 1943. Members came and went during the years. It is the foursome that makes up the group today that recorded hits such as "Y'All Come Back Saloon," "Bobbie Sue" and "Elvira" in the late 1970s to early 1980s.

Sterban performed with groups such as J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, a gospel group that backed Elvis Presley. He joined The Oak Ridge Boys in 1972.

The group had its origins in gospel music with more than 30 members who came and went before 1973, when Joe Bonsall joined. Since then it's been Sterban, Bonsall, Duane Allen and William Lee Golden. All four of them live in Hendersonville, Tenn., near Nashville, said Sterban, 64.

During leaner years the group received support and encouragement from Johnny Cash, who put the Boys on his show in different venues.

"He paid us more than we were really worth at the time just to help us survive," Sterban said. "More than his financial help, his word of encouragement is what really helped The Oak Ridge Boys."

It was at the suggestion of their manager, Jim Halsey, that the boys cut a country record and got their first country hit, "Y'All Come Back Saloon," in 1977, Sterban said.

That year The Oak Ridge Boys won best vocal group at the Academy of Country Music Awards.

The Boys have won numerous awards, including a Grammy in 1982 for best vocal performance by a duo or group for their performance of "Elvira."

In recent years, the group, known for its four-part harmonies, has revisited its gospel roots and cut a patriotic album and a bluegrass album, Sterban said.

The Oak Ridge Boys' latest original album, "Front Row Seats," is the "kind of country that's happening in today's country market," Sterban said.

The album includes the humorous "Hard to Be Cool (In a Minivan)." A video of the song can be found at

Like music the band previously recorded, the song is upbeat.

"We shied away from cheating songs and getting drunk," preferring to stick with wholesome material, Sterban said.

"Our gospel background has a lot to do with that," he said.

To learn more about The Oak Ridge Boys, go to

If you go ...

WHAT: The Oak Ridge Boys at the Great Frederick Fair

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16

WHERE: Great Frederick Fair Grounds, 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick, Md.

COST: $40 reserved track seat; $35 reserved grandstand.

MORE: For tickets, call 301-695-3928 or stop by Building Two at the Fair Grounds. There is a $1-per-ticket handling charge for orders by phone.

For more information about the fair, call 301-663-5895 or go to

WHAT: The Oak Ridge Boys at the Luhrs Center

WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26

WHERE: H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center, Shippensburg University, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, Pa.

COST: Tickets cost $20 to $40.

MORE: For tickets, call the Luhrs Center box office at 717-477-SHOW (7469) or go to

Great Frederick Fair entertainment schedule

Concerts and events include:

· 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15: Gretchen Wilson ($50 reserved grandstand)

· 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16: The Oak Ridge Boys ($40 reserved track; $35 reserved grandstand)

· 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17: Tractor pull ($20)

· 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18: Demolition derby ($20)

· 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19; Gary Allan ($35 reserved track; $30 reserved grandstand)

· 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20: Rockin' Road House with Mark Chesnutt, Lorrie Morgan and Aaron Tippin ($35 reserved track; $30 reserved grandstand)

· 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21: Lonestar ($40 reserved track; $35 reserved grandstand)

· 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22: Joe Nichols ($35 reserved track; $30 reserved grandstand)

There is a $1-per-ticket handling fee for phone orders. For tickets, call 301-695-3928.

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