Oak Ridge Boys to sing a mix of old and new

Country Music Hall of Fame 2015 inductees the Oak Ridge Boys will sing some well-known hits and gospel songs at the Shenandoah Valley Music Fest on Saturday. Photo Courtesy of Shenandoah Valley Music Festival

For the final weekend of the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs, audiences will listen to and sing along with the songs that landed the Oak Ridge Boys a nomination into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year.

Bass singer Richard Sterban said that while the vocal group will definitely be singing some of their classic chart-topper hits at the 7 p.m. Saturday show, they keep things fresh with some of their newer material.

“When the Boys come to town, they want to hear Elvira – and you can count that one will be on the set list,” he said. “We believe people want to hear the recognizable songs…but we feel like new music brings new life into our show.”

That new music includes some equally recognizable songs from their new album Rock of Ages. Released this spring, the album is a return to the gospel foundations of the quartet that includes hymns like “In the Sweet By and By.”   

“This CD is kind of like a return to our roots; paying tribute to where we come from,” Sterban said. “It’s songs that all four of us grew up on as kids.”

One song off the new album recorded in collaboration with Merle Haggard, “Sweet Jesus,” is in contention for the Gospel Music Association’s Country Song of the Year for the 46th Dove Awards. Sterban said they’re going to be on the road during the awards on Oct. 13, but they’ll be in Nashville later in the month for a different award ceremony.

This year, the quartet will hit another landmark as inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame in the Modern Era category. At the medallion ceremony on Oct. 25, they’ll be honored with their own plaque at the CMA headquarters’ rotunda. Sterban said many people are surprised to learn they haven’t already been inducted.

“That will be a very special night in the history of the Oak Ridge Boys,” he said. “In our career we have been able to accomplish a lot of good things…but that was kind of like the one missing piece.”

Although Sterban said they consider themselves as a classic country group rather than a contemporary one, they’re just honored and humbled to finally join the ranks of those great musicians in the rotunda.

“To realize that the Oak Ridge Boys will now be a part of that very special family…it’s hard to find words to describe it,” he said.

Even after nearly 43 years of performing and touring around 150 days out of recent years, Sterban said they still get just as much enjoyment out of their shows. The feedback they receive from those who come to see them perform – inspiring and empowering some in times of trial – gives them a special kind of satisfaction.

“I think we’re a credit to the music business and I think every musician takes people on a trip,” Sterban said. “We allow people to escape for a while from their troubles and their cares.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com