BY KATHY KNIGHT
The Oak Ridge Boys played to a full house at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Saturday night with their "Christmas Times's A-Coming" tour.
"This was our largest crowd for a season show at NPAC, and many people leaving said it was one of our best shows ever," said Executive Director Darrell Bryan.
The first half of the show the Oaks sang several of their most popular hits, from "You'll Come Back Saloon" and "Thank God For Kids," to "Elvira."
The second half of the show, the Oaks invited everyone to "gather around the Christmas tree."
The stage was very festive as there were Christmas trees in abundance on the Niswonger stage. (Some of the trees the Oaks brought with them, and some were from the Greeneville High School chorus department.)
A CHRISTMAS SHOW
On stage prior to the second half, Oaks member Joe Bonsall stressed how important it was to all of them that this was a Christmas show, not a holiday show. "The sacred part is important to all of us."
They performed a mix of traditional Christmas songs and new Christmas songs.
Many of the Christmas songs came from their sixth and latest Christmas album, "Christmas Time's A-Coming."
Santa Claus made an appearance on stage in a replica Peterbilt truck and then went out into the audience to visit with the children -- and, much to their delight, gave them Santa hats.
Perhaps one of the favorite segments of the evening was when the quartet brought out their roaring fireplace and their four Cracker Barrel rocking chairs and talked about their individual Christmas memories.
The group was founded in the 1940s as The Oak Ridge Quartet.
They became popular in Southern Gospel during the 1950s.
Their name was officially changed to The Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1960s, and they remained a gospel-oriented group until the mid-1970s, when they changed their image and concentrated on country music.
The sell-out crowd was very enthusiastic in their response, giving the group more than one standing ovation.