The Grammy-winning Oak Ridge Boys are making a whole lot of new noise these days -- country rockin' noise.
That might seem a stretch coming from a formidable quartet of musicians who've been singing up a storm of gospel and traditional country music for almost 40 years.
But that's what the audiences should expect when the quartet makes its first Tri-City appearance with a Christmas show at the Windermere Theatre on Dec. 4 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
The new sound won't be replacing the group's much-loved gospel and country tunes. Far from it, said Oak Ridge Boy Richard Sterban.
"We're not changing as much as we're evolving," Sterban said in a phone interview with the Herald. "Our new CD is titled, The Boys Are Back, and we're pretty excited about the new rock sound in some of the songs on that album.
"We had rock 'n' roll producer David Cobb working with us on this one, ... we'd met through a good friend of ours, Shooter Jennings. The end result was magical."
Jennings is the son of country legend Waylon Jennings and also wrote the signature song for the album, The Boys Are Back.
"When you've been together as long as we have, it's important to keep the creative process flowing, to reinvent ourselves and stimulate new music that would also appeal to a younger audience as well as all our longtime loyal fans," Sterban said. "That's where Cobb and Shooter came in."
The Boys Are Back is the Oak Ridge Boys first album of new music to hit the charts in many years, Sterban said. "There are so many wonderful songs on this CD," he added.
They will sing a few of those songs at the Christmas show, plus plenty of holiday classics.
"We've been doing our Christmas Show for 23 years and we love it. But this year it'll be a whole new project made up of sacred and secular sounds much like an American song book."
At 67, Sterban hasn't lost any of his looks nor has his deep voice lost its luster.
Sterban carries off an interview as smoothly as he charms an audience. He is candid, direct and gracious, and he spices it all up with an engaging sense of humor.
"We still love what we do, even after all these years," he said. "I like to tell people that if it wasn't for this music, I'd have to get a real job, and that's scary."
Sterban has been singing with The Oak Ridge Boys since 1972. William Lee Golden, the band member with the long white hair and beard, has been with the group the longest, joining in 1965. He also is an accomplished painter.
Duane Allen was formally trained in opera before joining them in 1966.
Joe Bonsall, from Philadelphia, came on board in 1973, and it's no secret he loves baseball, specifically the Phillies, as much as he loves to sing.
When they aren't crooning across the country or holed up in a recording studio, Sterban stays they stay fit by eating healthy and getting as much exercise as they can whether on the road and at home.
"As we get older, I like to think we develop a little wisdom about taking better care of ourselves," he said.
The Oak Ridge Boys will kick off the Tri-City show singing The Boys Are Back, Sterban said.
"This will definitely be a great family show," he said. "The first 40 minutes or so will be our regular music, including Elvira. Then we'll sing some of the new stuff."
The second half will be all Christmas, secular and sacred, and includes a visit from Santa and a snow-making machine that will turn the Windermere Theatre into a winter wonderland, he added.
"We'll close the show with songs that tell what we believe to be the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, because that's very important to us."
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are from $37 to $52 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com or the box office.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org