The Oak Ridge Boys.

The Oak Ridge Boys

One of the most successful and longest-running country music acts will be making two stops in Iowa this week. The Oak Ridge Boys are marking their 25th annual Christmas tour in their 41st year as a band.

Bass singer Richard Sterban says the show is divided into two sections, the first being a rundown of the songs that have made them so famous for decades.

“It’s our greatest hits done live,” Sterban says, “so you’re going to hear 45 minutes of Oak Ridge Boys hits, including ‘Elvira,’ even though it’s a Christmas show, you’re going to hear ‘Elvira’ and ‘Thank God for Kids’ and all the songs that you’d expect to hear from the Oak Ridge Boys.”

After an intermission, the four-member group will return to the stage to focus exclusively on the songs of the Yuletide season. “We cover just about every aspect of Christmas,” Sterban says. “We’re going to cover the secular side of Christmas, the fun side of Christmas, the romantic side of Christmas. We have a great time, a lot of audience participation.”

During the holiday half of the show, the four band members will have a seat in four rocking chairs arranged in front of a fireplace in what Sterban says has become a fan favorite.

“Basically, we take turns talking about childhood Christmas memories and what Christmas means to the four of us,” Sterban says. “It’s really a chance for the audience to get to know the four Oak Ridge Boys better. It’s a great down-home segment. We sing some traditional Christmas carols and we encourage the audience to sing along with us.”

Sterban became famous for his “oom-papa-oom-papa-mau-mau” bass solo in the single “Elvira.” It became the band’s fourth number-one country hit, reached number-five on the pop charts and won the group a Grammy award.

The Oak Ridge Boys are playing Friday in Des Moines and Saturday in Dubuque. They’ll be back in Iowa next month for a show in Tama on December 19th.

For ticketing information, visit the band’s website:

Audio:  Matt Kelley interview with Richard Sterban. 9:50.