The Oak Ridge Boys: A Musical Journey Through the Cape Coral Strawberry Fest

The Cape Coral Strawberry Fest is a unique event that takes place from February 29th to March 26th at the German American Club. It is a time when rock and country music were at their peak, and a strange phenomenon was taking place - the growing popularity of JIMMY STURR as the most popular musical attraction in the polka field. The four-part harmonies and cheerful songs of The Oak Ridge Boys have earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA and ACM awards, and have garnered many other industry and fan awards. Every time they perform to the public, The Oaks bring four decades of chart hits and 50 years of tradition to a stage show widely recognized as one of the most exciting in the world. The group has achieved 12 gold, three platinum and one double platinum albums, in addition to a double platinum single, and has had more than a dozen number one singles nationwide and more than 30 top ten hits. By the late '60s, with more than 30 members coming and going, they had a line-up that included Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, Noel Fox and Willie Wynn.

Among the Oaks' many gospel acquaintances were Bonsall, a street boy from Philadelphia who embraced gospel music; and Sterban, who sang in quartets and had a job selling men's clothing. Both admired the distinctive and very popular Oaks. The four of them became friends, and when the Oaks needed a bass and a tenor in 1972 and 1973 respectively, Sterban and Bonsall received the calls. For a while, the group remained at the top of the gospel music circuit. It was there that they refined the strengths that would soon turn them into a widespread attraction.

Their gospel sound had a strong pop touch and, although it generated emotion and appeal to the public, it also baffled purists and left promoters unsure about the direction of the Oaks. Then, in 1975, the Oaks were asked to open several dates for Roy Clark. Clark's manager, Jim Halsey, was impressed by his skills. They produced one of the first country music videos. In 1977, Easy was not published in the United States but it took part in the first American popular music tour as headliners in the USSR.

The Oak Ridge Boys have appeared before five presidents. And they have become one of the most successful touring groups in the world, playing about 150 dates every year at major theaters, fairs and festivals in the United States. They demonstrated their business acumen in a variety of ways, including measures such as refusing to sit on the couch during their numerous appearances on The Tonight Show. The energetic Oaks show is still at the heart of what they do, and they refine it several times a year striving to keep it fresh for future audiences. The Oaks' new music attracted attention from younger audiences while reminding more dedicated fans that their favorite group is constantly evolving. Duane Allen, executive producer of the project adds: “We went to California in search of a rock and roll producer who would bring us back to our roots which is gospel mixed with country, blues and rock and roll”.

Golden describes this new project as a “musical journey” while Sterban agrees that although he didn't try to change them he challenged them. Many have described The Oak Ridge Boys' path as similar to Johnny Cash's journey with producer Rick Rubin - an analogy which is appropriate for Cash was one of their first supporters and long-time friend. Veteran Oaks producer Ron Chancey returned to produce Elvira and two new songs while Duane Allen and Michael Sykes produced nine more. The album debuted on September 19th after being included in The Grand Ole Opry. Hayes' humble Southern roots are revealed in “Face in The Crowd” which reflects his personal life experiences that millions can identify with. His TikTok videos have been viewed hundreds of millions of times connecting with audiences from all genres after Hayes did a TikTok dance with his teenage daughter which has over 35 million views. Hayes has performed his music on Good Morning America, CBS Sunday Morning, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The TODAY Show. This fall he embarked on his main stadium tour - The Glad You're Here Tour - which bears the same name as his book written with Craig Allen Cooper detailing his journey to find Christ. With new music coming out next year Hayes is ready for his best year yet!.

Scott Smithson
Scott Smithson

Burrito lover. Professional beer fan. General food junkie. Avid bacon fan. Avid music expert. Evil food aficionado.