Oak Ridge Boys – Redding, CA

December 14th, 2015

We decided to go the day before because the Boys were supposed to arrive at 8am Sunday and we thought we might be able to visit a little. We kept getting updates – they had run into a lot of snow, putting on chains, taking off chains….

We decided we wouldn’t take a driving tour of Mt Shasta when we saw the 12 inches of snow and growing.

After one of their tweets still sure they would make the Redding concert on time, General Yeager and I, teasing, let them know we’d stand in – I  could do the heel tapping thing Joe does and General Yeager has a great singing voice. I can also do the hand signals Duane and Richard do.

I could do what Jim Nabors told me he did to learn to sing: Jim used to go to a club’s open mike night and tell stories. The owner told him he’d never make it unless he could sing so he gave Jim records of Mario Lanza singing. Jim took them home and imitated Mario Lanza. He got his break though playing the  character in his stories: Gooollllllleee!

Now, I listen to  the Boys CDs a lot and imitate a little singing along….so….:-)

Just kidding.

The Boys got in just in time for the crew to go into fast forward mode and get the Christmas show set up in time for the show start.

We got to the venue an hour early to have some of one of their fan’s Dianne’s homemade lasagna. It was deeeelicious! Thank goodness because the restaurants – just not the same.

We sat in the front row. Darrick Kinslow gave the history of the Oak Ridge Boys and let the audience know about the new CDs and books on sale. He then jumped off the stage, introduced General Yeager and handed him the  mike. A standing ovation which always warms my heart and which I know General Yeager appreciates. General Yeager said: I like coming to see the Oak Ridge Boys, I get a chance to hang out with them. Nice bunch to hang out with. Great music.

I was a little surprised that the Boys sat us near the reindeer. At least we were sated so we did not see them as dinner and we didn’t have our rifles with us :-)

Dinner. (The reindeer)

Tempting.

The Boys came out and sang well as usual.

Oak Ridge Boys in Redding, CA

Oak Ridge Boys in Redding, CA

They each came over to say a personal hello to General Yeager. How very special and kind.

Joe, early on, told the audience about the Boys being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 25, 2015, being  there with their families and music friends and then looking up to the balcony and seeing…..General Yeager, who had made the trek to support the Boys. Wow. Then Joe said, He may be over 90, but the General TWEETS! We tweet back and forth!

The audience loved it.

I wish I had a paper and pen with me but some of my impressions were:

One song, Joe was lead. He sang the words and the other three repeated them. I thought, don’t they know the words? Tee hee. As I was thinking this, the words changed to “la la la la” and I thought, Gee even Joe forgot the words. heh heh. (Just kidding – those were the words – ones even I could remember :-)

The Christmas show is well organized. The first half is some of the  Boys’ greatest hits including one of my favorites – Gonna Take a River which has a great beat and  great words. The second half is filled with Christmas songs. They do it this way Joe told the audience so that during a song such as “Away in a Manger” someone doesn’t yell out, “Sing Elvira!” The audience laughed.

So during the second half of the show, I was tempted to yell “Sing Elvira again!” when there was a quite moment as a joke. But I behaved myself. Frankly there was no opening to do it. The secret to comedy is….t-t-t-timing.

Rex Wiseman played various instruments and has a great Jack Benny deadpan look. My camera kept getting  the moment after though. T-t-t-timing. We waved.

During intermission, before we had a chance to go out and visit the Boys for a few minutes, a line formed – people who wanted to say hello to General Yeager. Gen Yeager graciously stayed. Several hundred got to say hello and have their pictures taken with him. Many had personal stories of military service, kids or grandkids serving our country, or meeting the General or hearing him before; all very excited to meet General Yeager. All were very respectful and nice. The ushers were very helpful and kind as well.

Joe sang An Inconvenient Christmas and a few other songs. During one, General Yeager turned to me and said, “You know, he has a good singing voice.” I burst out laughing (okay quietly burst out laughing). After all these years, glad he made that decision. Honestly, I was thinking the same thing – what a great singing voice. Somehow last night, it really soared.

While watching and listening to Duane sing the lead of a particular song, it occurred to me that there are a few things that set the Boys apart and  why they are so popular, win awards, and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. One is they enjoy doing the show, they remember to enjoy themselves and it’s infectious. The other is: they are musicians. Their voices are their instruments and they each feel and act the song.

Duane Allen in song

Duane Allen in song

I remember when I had singing class in acting school. The teacher was keen that we feel and act the song. For us students, it covered a lot of mistakes re notes :-) Singing was a lot more fun.

The Boys do this. And as I thought about cross-over actors/singers, the Boys have created the best of all worlds – they play many different parts each night, many different characters to act and feel each song. How fun!

They also truly enjoy each other’s successes and honor each other. When the audience is clapping for say Richard, the other three are enjoying this. The smiles of joy on their faces when each is not in the spotlight shows genuine care and kindness.

During the 2nd half, Jeff put on a Santa hat – it struck me as hilarious.

Santa & Rex Wiseman

Santa & Rex Wiseman

Then I noticed Ron had one on- Victoria style one.

Santa came out in his sleigh and gave presents to the kids the came down front. I wondered if he would see the one little shy kid who brought his security bankee  and Mom. Yes, Santa saw him. And made sure he got a Santa hat.

Santa in his sleigh & Joe

 

Santa's sleigh & reindeer

Santa’s sleigh & reindeer

Richard Sterban sang a lot more than I remember in shows. Wow! His Merry Christmas in about the lowest notes possible was so melodic and stunningly beautiful.

Joy to The World

William Lee’s rendition of Mary, Did You Know? is now my very favorite. His voice and phrasing were about as perfect as one can get. Also, wow.

William Lee at his best

William Lee at his best

The Boys sat in rocking chairs and told us personal stories about Christmas. Duane started with: These rocking chairs will extend our careers 10 years.

Got me thinkin’: what if the audience all sat in rocking chairs…?

Joe Bonsall told a story about his mother’s secret recipe. I had tried to bake and bring the Boys and the team General Yeager’s mother’s award-winning butterscotch pah (WVirginian for “pie”) but it turned out badly. Very. So I fed the deer and figured I’d try again later. General Yeager had made it and entered it in the Nevada County Fair and won 1st prize. Clearly he knows how to make it well :-)

The audience loved the show – the auditorium was packed (capacity 2000!) with clapping, singing fans of the Boys.

2000 fans of the Oak Ridge Boys LOVED the show

2000 fans of the Oak Ridge Boys LOVED the show

Audience Oak Ridge Boys

Because the weather delayed their arrival and caused a departure within an hour of the end of the concert, we didn’t really have any time to visit with the Boys so we hung out in the lobby for a few minutes and visited for a short time with Joe and then William Lee.

It was a lovely way to celebrate the season.

c. GCYI

 

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