Best He’s Ever Sung It – Duane Allen, Oak Ridge Boy

December 14th, 2012

What a beautiful drive from Tonopah to Las Vegas. The sun was setting as we headed to Las Vegas. My phone went out so we had to try to find our way. Signage in Las Vegas is bad. And we weren’t sure where the hotel was. I had assumed it was on the strip. Not.

We got directions. Sort of. Ya can’t miss it…Sure. Ee could see the hotel marquis but we couldn’t get there from here. So we circled it. And circled it. And circled it. Smaller circles. And…

finally arrived, called our pal DK.

As I was checking in, I turned around and saw….DUANE ALLEN. Very cool. We chatted a bit about our trip. We figured out that Chuck Yeager was probably buzzing the Cliffords the day, the very talented Oak Ridge Boy Duane Allen was born.

As Duane and Gen Y were talking, I spied JOE BONSALL. “JOOOOOEY!” I cried out. He flashed his infectious smile and came over to greet the General. And me. Nice.

Next I felt an arm around my shoulders and a hug and a very deep Hello. RICHARD STERBAN.

We visited for a while. The boys were off to a TV interview at the big rodeo in town. DK came over, with our room keys – taking great care of us. Big greeting.

Next was WILLIAM LEE GOLDEN. A warm welcome, a story and out the door.

Nice.

We headed up to our room. Wow. I’ve seen some 5 star, first class rooms in my life, but this one…two stories with a wide circular staircase.

At 7:30pm, we went to dinner with DK and the head of entertainment. Gen Y had had a hankering for a good rib-eye steak. But the one he got wasn’t good…..it was GREAT!

The crème brulee was super – they are the first ones to really get it right – very shallow so high ratio of brulee to crème.

We headed to the show. We saw the line and guessed the door. As I opened it, a beautiful black gal cried out – the showroom isn’t open yet. A tall guy next to her reinforced her statement.

Me, keeping my distance :-) : I’ve got the General with me.

Magic words.

The beauty said: “Follow me. I’ll take you back.

As we followed her, I said: “Nothing like getting yelled at by a beautiful woman.”

The tall fellow, who was bringing up the rear, answered: “Why thank you!” (Ha Ha!) as the beauty turned around with an even larger beautiful, pleased, smile.

We got backstage, thanked our escort, and visited with the band. And then the Boys as they came in.

When it came time, Gen Y and I made our way to the wings. DK introduced the General and he went onstage to introduce the Boys.

One never knows what the General is going to say. This time he told the wonderful story titled: The first time I saw a jet, I shot it down.

I won’t tell it here – it’s a great story.

He then went on to tell the story of how he met the Boys way back when and introduce a group that reminded him of the great Quartets he loved as a kid, the ever talented Oak Ridge Boys.

The Boys came on stage and greeted/thanked the General. He left and they launched into a rousing song.

General Yeager and I danced our way backstage to our seats, led by the tall young man.

What a night!

It was Oak Ridge Boys hits night.

Each of the guys sang superbly. It was a great show.

William Lee took his sunglasses of to reveal those beautiful blue eyes as he sang one of his signature songs. I can’t decide which one I like the best. Perhaps today “Before I die…”

As William Lee was singing one of the leads, two people who were truly enjoying perhaps their 10th beer walked across the front of the audience to their seats in the first row. The guy ran out and came back with two more. William Lee held his hand out and shadowed him across the stage. The guy was oblivious.

And it was a fun moment by William Lee as he didn’t miss a beat in his singing. So spontaneous, so fun. Moments like that give glimpses into a person which truly enhances a live show. Especially if that person is William Lee. Nice.

William Lee also did a little clogging – perfectly in time to the end of the song. The audience went wild.

At one point, Jeff Douglas, Rex Wiseman, and Donny Carr playing various types of guitars of did some synchronized guitar waving. Very amusing.

At another point, the Boys, particularly William Lee and Joe just started laughing or smiling broad smiles while singing. It was infectious. And they didn’t skip a beat singing. Joe almost did but it was a far better moment than had he not.

Much later, I glanced over at Jimmy Fulbright. He was smiling to himself just having a great time. Again, infectious. I asked him later what he was laughing at – he was just enjoying himself watching the show from another view. Fun!

About 80% into the show…Joe told the audience that they had had their set all set. So to speak. But then they learned the General was driving in. “He wasn’t even there yet and we had to change our set set. Only the General can have that effect.”

The next song was the General’s favorite Oak Ridge Boys song, as Joe said.

When the music started: Big smile on General Yeager’s face.

Three phrases in, General Yeager said to me: “That’s the best Duane’s ever sung it.”

And it was.

I took a moment to check the rest of the band and boys.

Each, especially Chris Goldin, William Lee Golden, was still, watching, listening to Duane sing his heart out, all very moved. They had heard and played it before but it had been a while and tonight…well, tonight…

As William Lee said later: It was magical.

For everyone there. And that is some compliment from one singer to another. Very gracious, too.

The only instrument beside voice was the keyboard with Ron Fairchild. Ron had taken a hiatus for 2 years. He started playing along as usual with Duane. He told us later, he slowly noticed no one else was playing their instruments….he looked around, wondered….and figured oh well, kept playing, kept playing beautifully as a great complement to Duane. Sweet.

One of the reasons I also love this song is I can clearly hear each voice in the harmony as Duane leads.

I looked over at the General. Pure, full feelings. Indescribable.

After this, the ORBs sang some Christmas songs. Richard sings so beautifully so deeply.

Of course, the night would not be complete without Elvira.

Before I met General Yeager, I was not much on country western (as a fellow from Tennessee said: I like both) or country gospel. But I had heard of the song Elvira.

After I met General Yeager, I started to get to know the Boys little by little. What I appreciated from day one was that they are the consummate professional entertainers. It’s really a show of great singing and lots of fun and great feeling.

When I was a kid and would sing to the radio, it drove one of my brothers bonkers. I never got the words right. My hearing was off the charts good but I could never discern all the words correctly. Obviously. I think my bro should have seen the humor in that.

I was more of a music person and often forgot to listen to the words. But then I liked to sing. So…I should have just gone into writing parody. I sang parody….by accident.

So you might understand why it took me a few concerts to learn the words and music for the audience’s part in Elvira.

Now I sing it out with glee: LIPS LIKE CHERRY WINE. (I hope those are the right words :-)

And I sing along with Joe the other lines (which I can’t remember now hence the need to sing along…Sigh).

And with Richard: Oom pah pah mow mow.

The audience was dancing – they had moved down to in front of the stage.

After Elvira, was Bub ba ba bub ba ba bub ba ba Bobbie Sue. Now those are words I can do!

More audience moved down to in front of the stage.

After the song concluded and the ORBs left the stage, many people came up to the General to get their photo taken with him. He graciously accommodated all.

We headed to the green room. We thanked Duane and eventually headed to our room.

It had been a long day and a late show. And one heck of a show.

c. GCYI

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