On Wednesday, Dec. 21, the Oak Ridge Boys had a show at the Knoxville Civic Center. This would be the 38th and last show of their Christmas tour, which took them to 19 states. For this Christmas tour, the Oak Ridge Boys partnered with Save the Children. They hoped to raise awareness for this organization, and its mission to make lasting change around the world.
Before the show, Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban took a lunch break at the Cracker Barrel in Knoxville, where they made time to visit with fans, sing autographs, post for pictures, and chat with the media. Their new CD, “It’s Only Natural,” is being offered exclusively at Cracker Barrel.
The 12 songs on the new CD are, Whatcha Gonna Do, True Heart, Before I Die, Gonna Take a Lot of River, No Matter How High, The Shade Comes free with the Tree, Elvira, Louisiana Red Dirt Highway, Beyond Those Years, Wish You Could Have Been There, Lucky Moon, and Sacrifice…For Me. I was glad they included Elvira, which is marking its 30th anniversary this year.
I am a very long-time Oak Ridge Boys fan. I’ve seen them in concert on a number of occasions, and have met them previously in the haste of a ‘Meet & Greet’ line. But this was my first opportunity to sit down with them, visit, and ask questions, while they tried to eat their lunch, sign autographs, and pose for pictures with their fans.
Richard, Joe, Duane and William Lee seemed to be very appreciative of the fans that came over to their table to talk to them. They also spent a little time walking around in the restaurant talking to some of the people who were eating. I can’t thank them and their tour manager enough for being so friendly to the people there.
From what I could tell, the general public didn’t know the group would be having lunch at Cracker Barrel that afternoon. A few of us from the media were told, and the employees at Cracker Barrel seemed to know in advance. But the lucky folks that picked that particular restaurant for their Wednesday lunch were definitely in for a treat.
I asked Joe if there was anything that really stood out during their 38 year career. He simply said, “Our dreams have come true.” That pretty much tells us what Joe, Richard, Duane and William Lee really want to do. They want to sing. And when I asked Joe if they ever talked about retirement, he was quick to respond, “The word retire is not in our vocabulary. Why would we? We love to sing, and we are doing what we want to be doing.”
He did add that the best thing that happened in 2011 was being inducted into the Grand Ole’ Opry. “It’s a real honor to be considered part of the Opry,” he added.
Most Oak Ridge Boys know these guys have sung our national anthem at many sporting events, political events, and other functions. I couldn’t resist asking if there is any one place they would like to do the anthem that they haven’t before… Joe didn’t hesitate. His answer was, “The Super Bowl.”
Like most of us who have been following the Oak Ridge Boys throughout their career, We remember Richard as the one with the short hair, really ‘clean cut’ (for lack of a better description). I asked Richard why he changed his look. He really didn’t have a reason for doing it. He just decided to make a change.
William Lee Golden, who was ‘misidentified’ by a restaurant visitor as a ‘member of ZZ Top’, said he hasn’t trimmed his beard since 1980. He told us that it doesn’t seem to get any longer now, just whiter. I asked Joe what if there was anything coming up that they thought their fans would like to know about, he did mention that they are talking about a possible Christmas album for next year, and also said they are working on an acoustic gospel/country CD.
I had read G.I. Joe and Lillie, and knew about Joe’s children’s books, “Molly The Cat” (book series). I asked him about his writing, and he mentioned “From My Perspective,” which he completed recently. He also said he was working on several novels, but didn’t know if he would ever finish them.
It was a great visit with the Oak Ridge Boys, and I definitely feel honored that I had the opportunity to sit down and visit with them. Now, let me share a few more photos with you from the Cracker Barrel visit – some of the Boys, some of the fans.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was fantastic! How can you beat a Christmas holiday full of family, friends, presents, AND The Oak Ridge Boys. I have interviewed a lot of our country music artists, but I must admit – this time, I walked away a bit ‘star struck’. Thanks again, to The Oak Ridge Boys, and their management team, for making this possible. It’s one of those moments this writer will not soon forget.