By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — “Elvira” is one of the most iconic country music songs of all time. The song was first recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys in 1981, and 40 years later, they are taking it on the road to celebrate the anniversary of the original recording, and they are coming to Newkirk as one of their first performances following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Oak Ridge Boys will perform at 7 Clans First Council Casino at 8 p.m. Friday, May 28.
Bass singer Richard Sterban reflects on the success of the classic single.
“‘Elvira is a special song,’” he said. “‘Elvira is the song that fans expect to hear from The Oak Ridge Boys.”
The Oak Ridge Boys are no stranger to Oklahoma, having performed in the state multiple times. They are also not strangers to Newkirk, as they previously performed at SouthWind Casino. They see casinos as a great showcase for live music.
“We have played several Oklahoma casinos,” he said. “In most casinos, there is a very responsive audience, and (the casinos) treat us very well. A lot of people who patronize casinos are also some of our fans.”
The past year has been hard for The Oak Ridge Boys. Like most musical artists, their touring ground to a halt due to COVID-19. That proved not only hard for the musical group, but for so many more people within the industry.
“For the most part, the music industry was shut down. We had to spend the majority of time at home,” he said. “We have a calling, and that’s been taken away from us.”
It wasn’t just the artists who were affected, he said, but so many others as well, from band and road crew members to transportation. Everyone involved in putting on the show was affected.
While much time was spent at home, they took a path that many other artists took, and that is to record new music, some of which will be performed in Newkirk. A new album is coming out, which was inspired by their annual Christmas performances. The album, “Front Porch Singin’,” is produced by Dave Cobb and will be available June 11. Cobb is a Nashville producer behind many upcoming artists, including Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell.
“It is a very informal feel of four guys getting together and harmonizing,” he said.
The album was inspired by their annual Christmas programs.
“We have a segment called ‘Rocking Chair.’ We sit in front of a fireplace, and each member takes turns talking, and we sing a song between the talking,” he said. “It’s very earthy and down home.”
Cobb wanted the group to record an album in a similar style, and very quickly that feeling materialized, as they soon recorded the spiritual, “Swing Down Chariot.”
“We walked into RCA studios, and we were in the studio an hour, and it was a done deal,” he said. “That was the kind of feeling we were able to record.”
The album will feature a variety of styles, though those styles are common to The Oak Ridge Boys.
“It’s a mixture of old songs, familiar songs, mixed with new – Gospel, country, spirituals,” he said.
The Oak Ridge Boys are now venturing back onto the road, with Newkirk as one of their first stops, and some of those new songs will be performed ahead of the release of the album. Oak Ridge Boys classics will also be performed.
“I understand that when we do a show, people want to hear the hits, so we are going to do hits on the show,” he said. “We also like to do new music as well. New music puts new life into us, and our show.”
One of the classics they are revisiting is their iconic hit, “Elvira,” which turns 40 this year. The single was almost an accident, and went on to become a smash hit.