Entertainment

Oak Ridge Boys bring Christmas show to Coast for first time

The Oak Ridge Boys (Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban) bring their Christmas show to the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi on Friday.
The Oak Ridge Boys (Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban) bring their Christmas show to the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi on Friday. MCT File

While the names Noel Fox, Ron Page and Willie Wynn may not ring a bell for fans of country music, they were early members of band inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

Let’s try this again.

When you think of the Oak Ridge Boys the names William Lee Golden, Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban immediately come to mind. Although the band started as a gospel group in the 1940s, the current version of the Oak Ridge Boys has been one of the most successful groups in country and popular music since they got together in the early 1970s.

Their hits include “Y’all Come Back Saloon,” “Fancy Free,” “Bobbie Sue” and, of course, “Elvira.”

They have accumulated many awards over the past four or so years, including GMA Dove awards for their gospel contributions, several Grammy Awards and awards from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.

But diehard fans of the band know that for the last almost 30 years, the Oak Ridge Boys spend parts of November and December traveling around the country with their Christmas Show, which includes a set of their hits and a set of holiday music, complete with Santa Claus and fake snow.

For the first time since the tour’s inception, it’s coming to Biloxi. “Christmas With the Oak Ridge Boys” lands at the Golden Nugget Casino at 8 p.m. Friday.

Philadelphia native Bonsall has been with the band since 1973, when he was hired to sing the tenor parts in the then-gospel quartet. Bonsall said the Christmas show in Biloxi is long overdue.

“We always play Biloxi around this time of year, and we’re usually right in the middle of getting ready for the big Christmas tour — this is our 27th annual Christmas tour and it’s become a big part of our year — what we’ve always done in Biloxi is sing a couple of Christmas songs, but this year we’re going to do the whole show — hey man, I think it’s really cool that we are bringing it there for the first time.”

Bonsall said that although the format for the show stays the same from year to year, he said the set list varies.

“We will throw in some different songs and some different ideas to keep it fresh,” he said. “We’ll sing a bunch of the Oaks’ songs and go dark and come out snowing — we’re looking forward to it because we’ve had a great relationship with the Golden Nugget people for a long time.”

The Oaks released their latest album “Celebrate Christmas” in October. On Wednesday, “Rolling Stone” reported the band is hoping to work with producer Dave Cobb sometime in 2017. Cobb produced 2009’s “The Boys are Back,” which included a cover of The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army.”

Bonsall said he is grateful for the Oaks’ enduring longevity and popularity.

“There’s no way you could have told those kids — us — 40 years ago that we would still be going today,” he said. “You could have never told that crazy bunch in the 70s that we would still be going strong — it amazes me every single night.”

If you go

WHAT: Christmas With the Oak Ridge Boys

WHERE: Golden Nugget Casino at 151 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi

WHEN: 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18

TICKETS: Tickets start at $20 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.

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