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The Oak Ridge Boys – Newberry Opera House

Newberry, South Carolina (April 13, 2018) – Driving into Newberry, SC today felt like a step back in time. A quaint little town filled with so much history you get this feeling that you’ve stepped into a time capsule. Right in the heart of the town sits the Newberry Opera House with its notable clock tower. Originally built in 1881 the historic building has seen its share of multiple uses throughout the years. In the mid-1990’s the building took on a full renovation and has been a focal point of live entertainment ever since.

This evening legendary The Oak Ridge Boys brought their Shine The Light Tour into town for two performances, 3 pm, and 8 pm, in support of their newest album release, 17th Avenue Revival, produced by Dave Cobb. This year marks 20 consecutive years that the group has performed at this venue. With decades of successful hit songs and a deep-rooted hold in American music history, it is an absolute honor to see these guys perform.

The Oak Ridge Boys © Splice Magazine – Michael Bragg. Please do not alter images.

Originally formed as a gospel group in 1943 based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, the band has seen many member changes throughout the years before settling on the most notable lineup that has been together for nearly 45 years.

As the 3 pm show time neared I couldn’t help but be filled with anticipation, the lights dimmed, intro music started and out of the shadows came Duane Allen – lead singer (1966- present), William Lee Golden – baritone (1964 – 1987, 1995 – present), Richard Sterban – bass ( 1972 – present), and Joe Bonsall – tenor (1973 – present). Their iconic voices went right into the fun “Everyday” followed up by “American Made“. The crowd instantly started clapping and singing along. Followed up by other hit songs such as, “Red Dirt Highway“, “Mama’s Table“, “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon“, and “Boom Boom“. Each member had a moment to shine as certain songs would feature standout parts catering to each individuals voice.

Throughout the show, Joe Bonsall took time to give back history on some songs, introduce some family who were in attendance and be an all-around funny guy with some light-hearted jokes. A huge surprise during this early show was when the group brought out very special guest “Little” Willie Wynn. Willie was the tenor voice for the Oak Ridge Boys from 1959-1973 before leaving the group and Joe joining. With Joe stepping back Willie joined the group on their classic gospel song “Jesus Is Coming“. This was the one time the room fell silent just watching and listening as Willie graced the stage with the Boys like he had never left. It was truly a rare moment to have been a part of.

The Oak Ridge Boys went on to perform four new songs, “Pray To Jesus“, “A Brand New Star“, “There Will Be Light“, and “I’d Rather Have Jesus“, from their newest album release, 17th Avenue Revival. Each song holding true to the group’s foundation and notorious sound.

Ending the show with one of the groups most iconic songs, “Elvira“, the crowd came to their feet. The guys took time during the song to interact with the crowd shaking hands and William Golden gathered set lists and handed them out to fans. Backed by The Mighty Oaks Band consisting of Ronnie Fairchild (keys), Scotty Simpson (bass), Austin (drums), Roger Ethan (guitar), Jeffery Douglas (guitar) and Rex Wiseman (pedal Steel), this was one unforgettable show!

What I had not expected for the day was a generous offer from the group’s staff to stay for the second show at 8 pm. After leaving the venue and exploring the historic town for a while, I returned to the Newberry Opera house that was once again, filling with eager fans. Meeting with a staff member I was taken backstage where I was able to meet The Oak Ridge Boys moments before the start of the second show.

Senior Photojournalist, Michael Bragg, with the Oak Ridge Boys

I then stood back and watched as the Boys prepared to take the stage with vocal warm-ups and stretches. Intro music starts and out the guys go. I stood there for the first few songs just in awe taking in the amazing opportunity, completely forgetting that I had my camera in hand and could take some photos.

The evening show started off with the same two songs as the first show but then the set list changed adding in songs like “Beautiful Bluebird“, “This Crazy Love“, “Sail Away“, “Never Hurts To Hurt“, and more. Once again the room full of fans was singing and clapping along. The Boys sang the new songs once more, as well before going into “Elvira” and an additional encore performance of “Bobbie Sue“.

The Oak Ridge Boys are definitely one awesome show to attend. Not only for the great music but for the much needed positive message and uplifting these guys express. It’s more than the songs for this group, it’s about shining a light on the good in life in all the chaos of today’s world. Do yourself a favor and get out to a show soon… you will not regret it.  Artists today don’t make music like this anymore!

Show 1 Set List (3 pm)

  1. Everyday
  2. American Made
  3. You’re The One
  4. Red Dirt Highway
  5. No Matter How High
  6. Take A Lot Of River
  7. Y’all Come Back Saloon
  8. Ozark Mountain Jubilee
  9. Leavin’ LA
  10. Roll Tennessee River
  11. Mama’s Table
  12. Thank God For Kids
  13. American Beauty
  14. Boom Boom
  15. Come On In Best You Can
  16. Jesus Is Coming (featuring Willie Wynn)
  17. Pray To Jesus
  18. A Brand New Star
  19. There Will Be Light
  20. I’d Rather Have Jesus
  21. Elvira

Show 2 Set List (8 pm)

  1. Everyday
  2. American Made
  3. Come On In
  4. Beautiful Bluebird
  5. This Crazy Love
  6. Love Song
  7. Dream On
  8. Y’all Come Back Saloon
  9. Ozark Mountain Jubilee
  10. Leavin’ LA
  11. Roll Tennessee River
  12. Sail Away
  13. Never Hurts To Hurt
  14. Thank God For Kids
  15. Boom Boom
  16. Pray To Jesus
  17. A Brand New Star
  18. There Will Be Light
  19. I’d Rather Have Jesus
  20. Elvira
  21. Bobbie Sue

The Oak Ridge Boys:

Newberry Opera House:

Senior Photojournalist: Michael Bragg

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