By mtjulietintern

Longtime Oak Ridge Boys member Joe Bonsall recently shared his thoughts on the group’s performance at the Wilson County Fair, along with the group’s other happenings.

Bates Ford in Lebanon will bring back the Oak Ridge Boys in concert for the second straight year Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Jimmy Comer, vice president of the Wilson County Fair, said last year’s concert was the largest concert in fair history.

Bonsall said the group was excited to make its return to the “greatest fair in Tennessee.”

“It’s a great, great fair. We’re honored to sing there. Last year was a big night for us. I think it was big night for the fair. I got a personal text from Tony Bates with Bates Ford this past year. I gave him a call and we chatted,” said Bonsall, who said the conversation led to the group’s return.

Fans and attendees will enjoy the patented “fast-paced, family-oriented show” the Oak Ridge Boys have featured for decades, according to Bonsall.

“That’s what the Oak Ridge Boys are all about. Mom, dad, the kids and grandma can all come out to hear the Oak Ridge Boys and know they’re going to hear a lot of music, have a lot of fun, and it’s going to be a clean show. They’re going to hear a lot of hits, gospel music, we’ll wave the flag a little bit, and it’ll be a great, fast-paced 90-minute show from the Oak Ridge Boys.”

The group has had a busy summer, according to Bonsall, in part due to the success of the collaboration with Blake Shelton on “Doing it to Country Songs,” featured on Shelton’s 2016 album, If I’m Honest.

“About a year and half ago, Blake called. He’s been a good friend for a lot of years and he loves the Oak Ridge Boys, and we love Blake. He said, ‘What do I have to do to get you all to sing on a song with me?’ I said, ‘Name the time and place, Blake,’” Bonsall said.

Since the song’s release, the group has performed the song live with Shelton at the 2016 CMT Music Awards and five major country music festivals, re-recorded their hit, “Elvira,” with Shelton and received an animated video of the song courtesy of Spotify and Warner Brothers, with Bonsall portrayed as a beaver.

Bonsall said the collaboration allowed the Oak Ridge Boys to reach new audiences, which is on par with the group’s philosophy of non-complacency.

“Whether it’s William Lee Golden, Duane Allen, Richard Sterban or myself, everybody has this thought pattern of keeping this thing going and what can we do today to make it better than last time,” Bonsall said.

The group has enjoyed tremendous success, including a 2015 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. They charted single after single and album after album, celebrating more than 41 million records sold, two double-platinum albums, and more than 30 top 10 hits, including No. 1 chart-toppers “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” “Thank God For Kids,” “American Made,” among dozens more.

Bonsall said group members enjoy being a part of the group just as much as they enjoy success, which fuels their continued drive.

“We love being the Oak Ridge Boys. I think at this point in our career, the four of us have been blessed, because we’re still feeling good, singing good, playing a lot of shows and just enjoy being the Oak Ridge Boys,” he said.

The group recently recorded a new album, tentatively titled “17th Avenue Revival,” which is set to release next year.

“Let’s keep rocking and let’s keep the Oak Ridge Boys going as long as we can. I think only God will tell us when it’s time to stop singing,” Bonsall said.

By Xavier Smith

xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com