For 35 consecutive years, the one of the main staples of the Kentucky State Fair is not only Freddie Farm Bureau, funnel cakes, and the World Championship Horse Show – it is the Oak Ridge Boys playing in concert. The legendary performers have not slowed down and age has proved to be golden with a performance that will be written in the record books.
Packing in Cardinal Stadium, the concert on Sunday night started off with a fiery bluegrass performance by the Grascals. They recently received 5 nods for IBMA Award Nominations, including Entertainer of the Year. Their set included a blend of original songs, as well as cover songs. In fact, they did a medley of Hank Williams, Jr. hit songs. They will be hitting the road again with Hank Jr this fall on the Rowdy Friends Tour. Other song selections included “Last Train to Clarksville,” and “Can’t You Hear That Whistle Blow.”
Jamie Johnson of the Grascals spoke about the time they visited the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. During that visit, they stopped at a wall that had words on pieces of paper from the kids saying “I am sick,” “I am tired,” and more. They all surrounded one phrase that said, “I am strong.” After that visit, he and his wife wrote a song called “I am Strong.” The Grascals would play the heartfelt song which brought the crowd to its feet with a long standing ovation in honor of the song.
While They complimented their set by inviting Joe Bonsall, Ban-Joey, of the Oak Ridge Boys, to pick banjo on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” alongside Kristin Scott Benson. The crowd went wild as the band stood and play with such ease. (Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with the Grascals this week.)
After a short intermission, the lights went down and tunes were played overhead of various snippets of songs of the Oak Ridge Boys. Soon the band joined on stage as one by one the Oak Ridge Boys came out to sing “The Boys Are Back,” the title track of their latest album. In two hours, concert goers were brought down a musical path of hit songs from the last 35 years. Joe Bonsall would lead the group by discussing what has happened over time in their journeys at the state fair. The first time they played, they debut “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon,” which ended up being their first number one single. At one time during the height of their popularity, they were playing two shows a day in Freedom Hall.
Keeping up with the modern times, the guys read through requests from their website community board, as well as Facebook and Twitter. They would go to play hit songs, such as, “American Made,” “Dream On,” “Beautiful Bluebird,” “Seven Nation Army,” “Fancy Free,” “Everyday,” and “Bobbie Sue.” History was made as not only William Lee Golden sang, but his son played drums and granddaughter played fiddle for one of the songs.
Probably one of the biggest highlights of the night was at the end. Usually the Oak Ridge Boys would sing “Amazing Graze” acapella at the end of their KY State Fair show. This time they would ask the Grascals to join them. As the crowd sang along, the feeling of comfort came over and a chill in the air of the sweet harmonies on stage.
By far in Kentucky State Fair history will there ever be another performance as that was seen on Sunday night by the Grascals and the Oak Ridge Boys. Be sure to check out our exclusive interviews with the Grascals and the Oak Ridge Boys this week on the Examiner
To View the Slide Show of Pictures from the Show, Click HERE