Having fun with General Chuck Yeager & the Oak Ridge Boys

December 16th, 2012

The Italian restaurant was a big hangout for the ORBs in the ol’ days. We looked at some of the pictures on the wall – lots of old stars. And of course, the contrarian Richard Sterban. 25 years before in the photo, when all the Boys had long hair, Richard’s hair was much shorter and gorgeous really.

Now all the Boys hair is shorter (except William Lee – he’s in a style all his own) and Richard’s is long.

On the way to the restaurant, we had checked out some pawn shops. One had some interesting World War II artifacts including a map of the planned invasion of Iwo Jima.

We left the pawn shop and got a tour of what the strip used to be like. That used to be the Sands….and that used to be Landmark…and that used to be…

I remember paying $10 for a room in a nice casino 20 years before when they enticed people to come with low prices and then took their money in the casino. And the food was affordable. Now….wow!

We had dinner with some of the ORB (Oak Ridge Boys) band. Nice to spend some time and get to know each other. General Yeager regaled us with stories and explaining some of the current aviation inventory.

We went back to the hotel, to our double decker room, and rested till the show.

At 9:15pm, we headed to the green room.

When Chris Golden came in, Gen Y said: Do you usually have a glass cage around you?

Chris understood immediately: A bit too loud? Usually we have a cage in bigger venues but these aren’t my drums.

Me: You’re quick! :-)

When Joe walked in, Gen Yeager said: You wearing the same shirt as last night?

Joe, mock taken aback, smiled: General, I have two of the same.

Gen Y: Well if you wear your coat (blazer), it’ll look okay.

Joe: I’ll try but it gets so hot!

Gen Y: All right then.

After visiting with a few others, Gen Y asked me: Do you think Duane will sing It Takes a Little Rain again?

Me: I’ll see.

I found and asked Duane. He looked thrilled – glad we had clearly liked it so much and wanted to hear it again.

He answered: You have to ask Joe, he does the set list. We put in a different song to honor Gen Yeager. But you have to ask Joe.

I went over to Joe who said they were going to sing another song in honor of Gen Yeager.

I just couldn’t remember it by the title so I asked: Could you sing the first few phrases, I just can’t…?

Joe sang a little, stopped when he saw me nod slightly.

I was mesmerized by his melodic, wonderful voice. I often love singing far better without amplification and other instruments.

I suddenly noticed Joe was looking at me funny. Which frankly he does a lot. :-)

I quickly realized it wasn’t the garlic from dinner either: I was still entranced a full minute after Joe had stopped singing. That Boy can sing! (But we knew that).

I came to and said, I like both of course. I think he’d still prefer It Takes a Little Rain…..

Joe jumped in and they changed the songs.

Duane was pleased, too. He shared some wonderful personal stories with me. Each time we see the Boys, we get to know each other just a little better. Duane then expressed how much their friendship with the General means to them. And that means a lot to me.

Gen Yeager went backstage, was introduced by DK, and walked out again to a standing ovation.

He told another story and introduced the boys, the most patriotic group, great friends who reminded him of the great Quartets of his youth.

The boys came on stage, greeted the Gen and as the General left the stage, the singing exploded.

Another wonderful show – I don’t know how they do it – starting at 10pm!

Joe mentioned that Gen Yeager had asked him about wearing the same shirt and to wear the blazer over it. The audience loved it.

After a couple of songs, Joe disappeared offstage. He returned sans blazer. The audience noticed and laughed. Joe mimed; sorry, it’s HOT!

Gen Yeager waved a playful scolding finger at him.

When Joe introduced Chris Golden, Chris stood up and said: The General said I was playing too loudly last night, drowning you guys out, so I’ve been trying to hold back tonight!

Gen Yeager waved a thumbs up.

In another song, William Lee did some clogging and a shuffle ball change (term in tap dancing) perfectly to the end of the song. If you have never seen William Lee do some clogging, you have got to go see the next ORB’s concert. Run, don’t walk. It is so FUN!

Joe introduced Gen Yeager’s favorite song and Duane stepped up to the mike. And sang beautifully.

Again, one of my favorites – Duane sings from the bottom of his soul and you can hear all the parts so distinctly.

I looked at General – so happy. Which made me even more happy.

“When the sun always shines, there’s a desert below.

It Takes a Little Rain To Make Love Grow.”

The audience was enthralled. Enchanting.

Once everyone re-grouped, the Boys sang a few Christmas songs.

“Santa’s riding shotgun, Rudolph’s in the middle” – now that’s just funny. And the music is upbeat too.

Richard of course singing beautifully again.

And of course, Elvira has the audience jumping out of their seats to dance in front of the stage. A few tried to get me to join but I preferred to enjoy the show with Gen Yeager.

As Elvira was finishing, the Boys jumped into Bubba b….Bobbie Sue. We decided to make our way backstage to not get caught.

As we entered backstage, I asked if Gen Yeager wanted to go on stage. Given the interaction going on with the audience dancing in front…

DK brought him on stage. The boys embraced him and did a group pose while singing. Outstanding. Wish I had a picture of that from the front.

The audience loved it.

What a personal, personable show.

As they walked off, I skidaddled to the other side of the stage to meet them.

Each of the Guys expressed their appreciation that General Yeager had come. Very nice.

We visited a little. Then we met Dina Martin, Dean Martin’s daughter, and her husband.

Dina had met Gen Yeager many years before. Gen Yeager had been on the accident board when her brother had had a plane accident. And Dean Martin had personally called Gen Yeager to ask him what happened. They had talked for a long time.

This night, though, Dina was thrilled to see Gen Yeager. We took photos together.

Dina is a singer and incredibly beautiful and in shape. Wow. Her husband was gracious and fun too.

We then headed to bed….walking on air, singing joyfully as we always do after a night with the Boys.

c. GCYI

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