Oak Ridge Boys August 27, 2016 The Harv at Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino in Chester, West Virginia.
I first saw The Oak Ridge Boys in 1999 at the Canfield Fair in Canfield, Ohio. I was so excited to see them because growing up, they were the first real band I ever got into, and the first record I ever had. If you have read my blogs in the past, I have mentioned the group many times and how their influence has been on me. When I saw them in Canfield, they were promoting their “Voices” CD, and the single “Baby When Your Heart Breaks Down.” I was amazed that they sounded as great as ever during that show.
Flash forward years later and after many other concerts of Poison, Warrant, and Barry Manilow, my 50th concert was coming up. 50 concerts may not seem a lot to some, but I didn’t see my first one until 1991 and haven’t seen many in the past few years. So when I read that the Oaks were coming to Mountaineer, I had to be there.
The great thing about the group is that there are so many genres that they connect to: Country, Gospel, Soul, and of course Pop (when they hit the charts with “Elvira” and “Bobby Sue.”). During the weeks coming up to the date of the show I researched several show set lists and found that it was really going to be a celebration tour, in fact that was the name of this tour.
A few great things about a place like The Harv is that there are no opening bands for the acts, they start at 8pm, and finish usually at 9:30pm. I have seen Foreigner and Cheap Trick there in years past and the sound for both were great.
The Oaks took the stage almost exactly at 8pm after the new CEO of the casino gave a great speech , and informed us that this was the first time the group has ever been there, which shocked me because after all the years they have toured, one would think that there were no other places left to play.
The group opened with their song “Everyday” and kicked into “American Made” right after. The band playing with them were dead on and looked like they were having fun. I was in the bleachers seats, which is quite a bit away from the stage (think of a lawn area in a pavilion show but indoors), but that didn’t stop me from having a great time.
I did miss the part of the show where Joe Bonsall mentioned that one of the members was dealing with a respiratory problem (thank you to the distraction of the people next to us talking), but you could not tell if any of them were not at their top. The harmonies were as great as anyone could sing -even young acts today cannot compete with these four.
During one break Bonsall told the story of how the four guys who just wanted to sing ended up recently being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and joked about how their birthdays are written at the museum, which he said that the tour was a celebration that there were no dates after the dash by their birthdays. He then said their new motto on Twitter would be “hash tag respect the dash.”
The night was filled with hits and the theme of proud American Values, along with a Gospel church session thrown in to please everyone. One great part, as a long time fan, was how the set list included the song “No Matter How High” (which I talked about in my “TV Themes of the 1980s” blog), which was during the late Steve Sanders era of the band. And if that wasn’t enough to make me love the show even more, the band added two new songs that will be on their upcoming CD due out in October 2016. The new songs “Rest in You Tonight” sung by Duane Allen and William Lee Golden’s “There’s Nothing Between Us Anymore” is more than enough for me to check out the new CD.
The set list also had the John Lee Hooker song “Boom Boom” sung by the bass man himself, Richard Sterban, and a Neil Young cover “Beautiful Bluebird” sung by Golden. I became of fan of Bonsall’s “American Beauty,” a song I was not too familiar with, but now can’t get enough of.
The hits were sung as well from “Come on In” to “Love Song” and “Dream On.” Of course it’s not an Oaks Concert without closing it out with “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue.” Allen’s voice is just as soulful as ever, and Bonsall could have fronted any band with his energy and entertaining working of the crowd.
If you get the chance to see the mighty Oaks live, which they are going to start their Christmas Tour soon, definitely go and see them. Regardless of their age, the musicians in the band are so gifted (some playing multiple instruments), the vocals are as better than many other musical acts that are over 50 in any genre, and the contagiousness of just having a fun time flows all through the crowd, from the front row to the back of the bleacher area.
The only problem I had with the show was that I could have stayed there all night (and a small problem with my shirt I got- they do shrink more than the merch guy said). The Oak Ridge Boys are still at the top of the mountain as far as I’m concerned. Thank you for letting me be a part of the celebration Oaks!
Since I do not have the exact set list or order, here is what some of the night featured:
Everyday-American Made-Come On In-Beautiful Bluebird-Love Song-Ya’ll Come Back Saloon-Dream On-Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight-Roll Tennessee River-Make My Life With You-There’s Nothing Between Us Anymore-Just A Little Talk With Jesus-American Beauty-Rest in You Tonight-Time Has Made A Change in Me-No Matter How High-There Must Be Something About Me That She Loves-Touch A Hand, Make A Friend-Elvira-Bobbie Sue.
A Special Thanks to Mr. Allen for helping me with some of the song titles.
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