Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, April 1, 2016

On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys by Joseph S. Bonsall (Book Review)

On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys by Joseph S. Bonsall
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: May 1, 2015
Format: Paperback - 272 pages
               Kindle - 6661 KB
               Nook - 6 MB
ISBN: 978-0736964197
Genre: Biography / Memoir / Country & Gospel Music

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble
Oak Ridge Boys Website

Book Description:

For more than 40 years, the legendary Oak Ridge Boys (40 million records sold) have been on the road entertaining sold-out audiences with their classic hit songs like "Elvira," "Bobbie Sue," "Thank God for Kids," and many others. As their fans will testify, an Oak Ridge Boys concert is an unforgettable experience.

These "on the road" stories, written by tenor Joseph S. Bonsall and spanning the four decades since the present group came together, will bring laughter, insight, and heartfelt appreciation to their fans young and old.

You'll read about...The faith shared by all four "Oaks" the backstage goings-on of The Oak Ridge Boys what "the Boys" do on the tour bus stories about special fans they've met down through the years their surprise mega-hit, "Elvira" and how it came about "Join me as I take you on the road with The Oak Ridge Boys. We'll revisit some of our favorite concerts, reminisce about some old friends, and I'll let you in on what happens behind the scenes. Come on along!" Oak Ridge Boy Joseph S. Bonsall

Book Excerpt:

Author Joseph S. Bonsall offered this book excerpt on his Twitter account on March 25, 2016:

A Personal Note "Born To Climb"

I do love to write however, I am a man who has never been taught… or to be honest, has never thought very much about the finer points of putting ink to scroll, and yet the blank page constantly calls out to me as a mother might call for her lost child. The words come in a vortex of constant movement and it is only the openness of my own heart and mind that that keeps the door ajar. I pray that it never closes upon me. One doesn’t write as a reward to ones ego although I imagine some do. One doesn't write just to pontificate or to make unnecessary noise. One doesn't write just to hear ones own voice speaking although again many do indeed love the sound of their own voice droning on and on into the abyss. The true creative process in the writing as far as I am concerned is to fill a blank page with words that are meaningful to the reader or at the very least tells a good story! I seriously work towards a good mix of the two! I want to entertain you with a well-woven yarn or at best provide a laugh or two but if somewhere in that blend of words I haven't moved or inspired the reader in some way then the writing is just an empty voice that becomes quite forgettable and meaningless in no time at all. That's how I see it anyway. To me it is the same philosophy that resides behind an OAKS show. I want to take you on a fun and exciting journey with the music and such but somewhere along the way I want for The Oak Ridge Boys to touch your heart. I hope that you leave a show or yes even this page with a word or two that you can use and apply to your own life. I would hope that along with the storytelling and the singing that you would always see a glimpse of the love of Jesus in all things and that perhaps that light shines through and touches your heart. I pray every day for the light of His leadership in all that I do and most times I sincerely do believe that these prayers are answered as I keep on writing words and singing songs and breathing air.
I count on the presence of the Holy Spirit and yes perhaps a few Angels to help me translate my oft times jumbled thoughts into that which is a readable edifice, and I am so thankful for these constant inspirations that guide my very soul down these shadowy pathways.
Yes, life itself is oft times shrouded in darkness and uncertainty and I do believe that is the master plan or why else would we have reason to seek His Light? We bob and weave through the high weeds, praying constantly for a clearing. We seek a parting of the clouds and a ray of sunlight to shine down upon us and we long for a comforting voice to whisper ever so softly to our being that we might or can or WILL come out okay and that our efforts might be deemed worthy.
There are those however who choose to languish there in the dark and for them I feel pain and sorrow, but blessed is the man who strives to be better even when the pathway is long and tedious and full of sorrow. The decent soul strives to be better. The hungry heart is never satisfied until certain goals are reached. The stout minded strives for that light, and the darkness is only a metaphor to him. He is constantly looking upward and sees himself above the darkness even when the brambles are tugging at his ankles and the thorns are tearing at his cloak. STILL… he is not deterred. He is not discouraged. His vision is not dimmed and his mind is not altered for he has purpose and is not content to reside in mediocrity.
Many men just die little by little with each time passing and do not even consider their legacy of failure even as they constantly fail themselves and all of those around them. They accept shortcomings as if that was the natural order, and they plod along with no meaning or purpose, and sadly love eludes them and their pathway shortens and becomes meaningless. They lose sight of all hope, and I would say that faith and even LOVE is downright impossible without hope. So the downward spiral feeds upon itself until all hope is gone, and the light is dimmed and eventually vanquished.
I choose to climb! A dear friend once called me a climber, so YES…I am a climber! Yet I know that no matter how positive I strive to be that the journey is not and never has been easy, and I will again humbly acknowledge that I am constantly in need of help!
Since childhood I have always believed in myself, yet because my heart has always been wide open, the help I have needed has always been there for me. I have never been alone in my quests and visions… no not once. And I am thankful for the many who have been there for me to guide and to lead and to share and to love and to constantly point me in the right direction. I have written about some of these folks in the preceding pages. But, again, I reiterate that one must be cognizant and willing and above all one must believe and have faith, or else many opportunities and relationships are never experienced and when they are missed, more times than not, they are never realized again.
Did I mention LOVE?
Oh yes… perhaps the most important element of all as our small vapor passes through this dimension of flesh and blood and bone on to eternity. Faith, Hope and Love… but as the Bible says, it is love that is most important and greater love has no man than he would lay down his life for his friends.
Many times Jesus spoke in a simple fashion for those around Him, for then as today human beings were relatively simple folk in comparison to God’s all-seeing plans and visions. Such a unique way to express to His followers that one day HE would take on the sins of the world upon Himself, while He hung in pain suspended between two worlds, upon a crude Roman cross fashioned out of a dogwood tree. He was NAILED to this TREE while wearing a crown of thorns that had been tightly pressed into His very skull. Even as a spear pierced His side, He spoke of forgiveness while all the time He was bearing MY sins… and yours.
I wonder what pained Him the most. Was it the physical pain of being tortured to within a hairs breath of life, or was it the incredible weight of dark and dirty sin that He bore deep within His soul.
He who was perfect had now became the worst of sinners as He hung there. When He said, “It is finished,” I believe that He meant this part of the process had ended at last, and I believe that when His sprit left the human body and He once again regained the power of Heaven, He must have been oh so ready for the battle ahead.
The pain part was over. The prophecies had been fulfilled. It was NOW TIME to reign as KING! He had paid the price that was asked of Him. He did what His Father asked Him to do! I can’t even fathom what it must have been like for Jesus during all of this.
Then, while the angels and the entire spiritual world looked on in awe, He paid a visit to Hell itself and let it be known that HE, Jesus Christ… God’s only begotten Son, now held the keys of life and death, that HE was the beginning and the end of everything. I’ll bet the devil was quaking in fear. Jesus then proceeded to do that which we might have thought was impossible. He rose up from the tomb on that third day after the cross!
Yes, I am a climber. I choose a more positive frame of mind, even when things around me collapse and disappoint I climb onwards, and I give my Lord all the credit for anything that I have been or am or might become, because in Christ there is perfect Light. My Bible says that there is no darkness at all in His realm… only LIGHT! I choose the LIGHT.
Oh to live in the Light of His Glory. Because of what He did on that cross and on that day we call Easter, a new road was paved for each one of us. Songwriter Bill Gaither wrote that “‘Because He Lives’ we can face tomorrow, and “‘Because He Lives” all fear is gone.
Ah, there it is… the word FEAR! Fear is perhaps our biggest stumbling block as we run our short marathon, yet Jesus has told us so many times that we need not be overcome with fear. Yet we are human and a certain amount of being afraid seems added into the equation. To be able to be victorious over fear we must constantly seek Jesus Christ and seek His will in our lives. We must commit ourselves to Him in all things, and fear and sorrow and sin and chaos will dim in His Light.
So as I continue to climb I strive to seek more of God in my life. I actually believe it is easier to believe in the final place that He has prepared for me then to NOT. The world will tell you that death is the end, and to me that is the tougher pill to swallow.
“When I get where I am going,” the Brad Paisley song says, “And I see my Maker’s face… I’ll stand forever in the light of HIS amazing Grace.”
I will also see my mother and father, and celebrate with long lost friends and loved ones forever in a new time zone of eternal life that has been promised to me by the Cross and the empty tomb of my Lord Jesus, and as Jim Hill once wrote, “What A Day Glorious Day That Will Be!”
So even though most of my earthly journey is behind me, I continue to peer forward. My earthly sight has been dimmed, yet the pathway ahead seems always clear and bright, and for this I am thankful.
So how about you, my readers? I invite you to climb with me. Accept Jesus Christ into you life and began to shine as the stars with a new purpose and a new goal.
Onward and upwards! May God bless you, and I sincerely thank you for reading!

My Book Review:

Every once in a while I come across a book that completely captivates me, currently that book is On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys by author / ORB tenor Joseph S. Bonsall!

As a longtime ORB fan, I couldn't help but get excited to read the behind the scenes memoir of the magical musical journey that this band has embarked on for the past 40+ years. From their humbled beginnings as a gospel group to transitioning into a phenomenally successful country music group, the Oak Ridge Boys: Duane Allen (lead), Joe Bonsall (tenor), William Lee Golden (baritone) and Richard Sterban (bass) have always based their successful career on their faith and love for God, family, country, and singing harmony together.

Author Joe Bonsall takes the reader on a wonderful journey as he recounts how the Oak Ridge Boys have lived out their dreams (and continue to do so today) from their gospel quartet roots founded in the 1940s, and how the current members (1960s - present) transitioned into the mainstream country music genre with their first big hit "Y'all Come Back Saloon (my all-time favorite ORB song!) in 1977, to becoming a major household name with the wildly popular "Elvira" in 1981, that made song history when it went viral with a crossover into the pop charts.

Joe provides the reader with a little history of each of the members' lives, and how they came to join the Oak Ridge Boys. You can't help but feel the brotherhood that was formed between these four men, each of them live by the unwritten and unspoken ORB Doctrine that has been a major part of their long-term success: keep egos in check, make few demands, treat people right, be humble, be respectful, work hard, fulfill obligations, be honest and have integrity, go the extra mile, have a good relationship with promoters, venues, the music industry, and fans, and most of all love what you do. Each member of the Oak Ridge Boys brings something different to the group, and when you add it all together, you get a very successful phenomenon that continues to be very relevant in the country music industry today!

This memoir is jammed packed with memorable moments in their 40+ year career: from their first concert together in Cincinnati, Ohio in October 1973, to being on the road with their Mighty Oaks band and hosting concert dates from "everywhere" USA across the years, to their recent induction into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame in October 2015 (which is well deserved and was a long time coming in my eyes!), the Oak Ridge Boys continue to bring their special kind of musical magic to their fans at each and every concert. As quoted by lead singer Duane Allen: "Every song has a story, and three minutes of magic," and this my friends is the essence of the group, for their love of gospel and country is passed on to their concert goers in a ninety minute family-oriented concert that is pure Americana at its best!

There is so much more that is included in this inspirational and delightful memoir, but you really need to read this book to get a full appreciation of just how special this group really is. But I will leave you with a tantalizing tidbit to whet your appetite: included is a wonderful array of pictures of the ORB throughout the years, a complete discography and list of awards, and a fun ORB Trivia that every fan will enjoy.

On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys is an amazing memoir that is a must read for every ORB, gospel, and country music fan!


About The Author

Joseph S. Bonsall is an avid writer, songwriter, and 40-plus year member of the legendary American music group The Oak Ridge Boys. His previous books include G. I. Joe and Lillie and several children's books. For relaxation, Joe retreats to his 350-acre farm on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line with his wife, Mary, and their seven cats. He also plays the banjo!

Author Website
Oak Ridge Boys Website
Facebook (Oak Ridge Boys)
Facebook - Joe Bonsall Fan Club Group
Twitter (Oak Ridge Boys)

Elvira - Music Video


  1. Thank you for a great and accurate review of Joe Bonsall's book, "On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys". While "MyBOYS!!!!" portray pure Americana, they have also delivered many good songs and memories to this Canadian fan, ever since first hearing them in 1968 in Toronto's Massey Hall.

    While time has taken them past the mountain peak, they have found a plateau not far below the summit, to continue entertaining their many fans across North America. Keep singin' BOYS; you always deliver!!!!

    And thanks to Twitter, I have found a way to connect and communicate with THE BOYS and a few dozen of their fans, regularly - from a distance.


    1. Hi Dave! Thank you so very much for your kind comment, I appreciate it. It is always great to meet another ORB fan. :)