The Oak Ridge Boys

oak ridge boys

The Oak Ridge Boys are Coming to Ruidoso

The woofers start to rattle, rumble and moan under the hefty bass notes of Richard Sterban’s voice of the Oak Ridge Boys.

“The boys are back,” he sings, the drumbeat thrumming behind him like a heavy train engine gaining momentum.

Sterban strolls out on stage with his new look including a soul patch on his chin. That’s probably the first sign that things are different with The Oak Ridge Boys. This isn’t the same country-gospel quartet you knew as a kid.

Sterban’s chant is then backed up by William Lee Golden, who still has his gray mountain man beard and long white hair. The beat of the drum begins to get louder as does the electric guitar when Duane Allen and then Joe Bonsall appear, each with their lead vocals.

By the time Bonsall finally breaks out, the chugging beat is full force and the boys are ripping out their 4-part harmony, collectively chanting the phrase that may someday replace their trademark 8-track tape incantation of, “Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow.”

“‘Cause the boys are back, yeah, the boys are back, yeah, the boys are back.”

That was when the Oak Ridge Boys had released their  CD, “The Boys are Back.” Sterban explained the album was part of an effort made by the group to reinvent themselves, with a little help from producer Dave Cobb and singer/songwriter and author of the title track, Shooter Jennings.

And while the boys may be sporting a new vibe for their local performance, Sterban said they still go back to the basics with the songs that made them famous; songs that made Shooter a fan.

“Shooter is a personal fan of ours and a historian,” said Sterban. “He wrote a song that basically tells our story. He arranged it in such a way where all of us took a little lead vocal on the song because he wanted to feature all four of us individually. The record label (Spring Hill Music Group), they liked that song so well, they thought that song would be great for the album.”

Sterban said the Oaks’ history with Shooter began when they first met him as a boy. His famous father, Waylon Jennings, had brought Shooter in to meet the guys during a recording session. Several years later, they would all meet in a recording studio again, but this time as equals.

“The kids just went crazy for it,” Sterban said. “When we went into ‘Elvira,’ they were singing along and knew all of the words, and even did the ‘Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow.'”

After that performance, the boys realized they could target a younger audience and began talks with Cobb to produce their next album. Sterban said they discussed the direction the group wanted to go and from there, Cobb began sending the Oaks various songs to consider for the album.

Cobb started nudging the boys out of their comfort zone with songs like a cover of, “Boom, Boom,” by John Lee Hooker and “Beautiful Bluebird,” written by Neil Young. He also moved them into a more bluesy rock vibe with, “Seven Nation Army,” by Jack White.

“He brought a side out of us that we hadn’t heard in a while, and it was kind of cool to do that.”

Go see the Oak Ridge Boys this Saturday, June 4th at the Inn of the Mountain Gods at 8pm.

Buy tickets here!