Skip to main content

The Oak Ridge Boys + Home Free = Vocal Event of the Year material

A few months ago I thought the Home Free fan universe might explode when Home Free and the Oak Ridge Boys started teasing about a possible collaboration. Now understanding that these things don't always come to fruition, it was even more exciting when we found out this one actually would. Both groups very graciously kept the fans up to speed on all developments. We knew when they were going to record. We knew when they were going to shoot the video. And then we had to wait for what felt like forever.


Guys. Girls. Men and woman of all ages. 

The wait is over. The video is here. It is here and it is glorious. The stars aligned and brought us a collaboration that country music didn't know it desperately needed. Country music royalty joining forces with country music's first a cappella band to bring us "Elvira". How could it not have been "Elvira"? One of country music's most iconic songs, of course it was going to be "Elvira". There's been some great collaborations in recent years and this one blows them all out of the water. That is not something I'm saying lightly. 

I'm imagining that considering all the country sites that are posting this, many of you will have watched it already. But if you haven't? I'm totally judging you...okay, that's completely untrue. Judgment free zone here. But you're going to want to get on it and see what all the fuss is about. Seriously. Headphones are an absolute must so go ahead and put them on. Get good and comfortable. And brace yourself. Awesomeness is coming. 

Are you ready? Are you? Are you? I don't think you are.

Here we go.

Yep. That actually happened. And now I need to talk about in greater detail. Join me after the break.

Holy opening chords, Batman! It's like being bathed in luscious harmonies and those who know me know that I am a sucker for fantastic harmony. No shortage of that here, hey? Now I would be remiss to continue without taking a moment to mention Geoff Castellucci from VoicePlay. What does he have to do with this, you ask? Because while I believe that Home Free's Tim Foust tweaked it a bit, this fantastic arrangement is one of Geoff's. It truly is a great one. It allows for everyone to shine while still highlighting those fabulous harmonies. Honestly Geoff has become one of my favorite arrangers; I don't think I've heard an arrangement of his that I haven't loved. So a big thank you to Geoff for his contribution to this project! Dare we hope he has more country arrangements floating around in that head of his? Oh please, let it be so. Worth mentioning that VoicePlay does a great version of "Elvira" themselves that you can find videos of on YouTube if you feel so inclined to look.  

There's so many things I feel should be talked about here. I think that ultimately what stands out the most about the video is the camaraderie between the two groups. They clearly had a blast filming the video and it shows. For Home Free, getting to work with The Oak Ridge Boys had to be a dream come true. There's so many wonderful shots, but my absolute favorite is the look on high tenor Austin Brown's face while the Oaks are signing his Oak Ridge Boys shirt. It's a look of pure childlike awe. You can really see how much it meant to him. This is one of my favorite things about Austin in general, actually. He wears his emotions on his face and I find it so endearing. While we're on the subject of Austin, let's take a moment to appreciate how smoothly those high notes come out of that boy. My goodness. He gets up there in this! I love when Joe Bonsall holds his hand up before one of them and the look on his face when Austin hits it. 

Earlier I deemed The Oak Ridge Boys as country music royalty because, well, they're The Oak Ridge Boys for heaven's sake. These gentlemen have been around for a long time and done some great things for the genre. They are members of the Grand Ole Opry and be granted their rightful place in the Country Music Hall of Fame this fall. Their harmonies are top-notch along with their professionalism. One of my favorite things about the Oaks is the way they welcome up-and-coming country acts with open arms. They are truly a classy group of men who have been so gracious and kind to Home Free and so many others. You can really tell that they've gotten a real kick of this collaboration and all the attention its received. Duane Allen has even commented about how the two groups need to tour together and to that I say, oh yes. A definite yes. Speaking of Mr. Duane Allen, did everyone notice him bringing a little funk into his solo? Nicely punctuated by Home Free's 2nd tenor Rob Lundquist's soulful vocal fills, I might add. Get down with your bad selves, gentlemen. This was made more perfect by Rob's church hands (found at 1:15). That moment just tickles me. 

Let's shift our focus to Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden and Chris Rupp, the baritone of Home Free. Neither of them get a solo in this, but in some ways they provide the glue that holds everything together. I feel like it might be easy to overlook these guys and that would be a shame. You would absolutely notice if their parts weren't in there. Keep in mind that they're part of the base that makes everything else work. Another favorite part of the video is when Rob is comparing his beard to William Golden's. I actually had the privilege of meeting Mr. Golden a couple of years ago and lemme tell you, that beard is so much more impressive in real life. And to get back to Chris for a moment, he might be one of the most joyful singers I've ever watched. It's contagious.

At this point I would like to name Mr. Richard Sterban as the King of all Country Music Basses. This would make Home Free's Tim Foust what? The Crown Prince of Country Music Basses? **Please note: excessive viewing of this collaboration may induce bouts of euphoria and/or outright silliness. Proceed with caution.** But seriously though, Mr. Sterban and Tim Foust are two of the best basses I've ever heard. The two of them together? Holy smokes. What makes this more fun is that the aforementioned Geoff Castellucci is also a bass. Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we have achieved maximum bass-age. Total bass nirvana here. It's beautiful. How can you not love Richard Sterban and Tim Foust trading off bass vocals? You can't. Now the temptation is going to be to focus on Tim's solos, but remember this is a cappella. So Tim is serving as the bass guitar as well and dare I say that his bass lines are pretty sick in this? I do. I do dare. 

So we've gotten this far and we've talked a bit about most everyone, but I saved the best for last. The man who I'm going to dub the MVP of this phenomenal collaboration. Why? Because he's the man who provides the incredible beats that laid the foundation the rest. Adam flippin' Rupp. That's right, I pulled out a flippin'. I usually reserve those for Eric Church, but Adam's more than earned it. Adam is, in a word, outstanding. There's some fantastic vocal percussionists out there and with all due respect to them, I consider Adam to be the best. Everyone else has moments where they shine; he never stops shining. From the moment he comes in to the very end. If you look up the word beast, you should see a picture of Adam because that's what he is. A beast. The kicker about this is that you don't realize just how good he is until you see him live. It's a shockingly physical experience; one that I know I wasn't prepared for the first time I saw him. Thinking about it makes me laugh because I guarantee it's a kind of feeling you've never felt unless you've seen these guys. A feeling that Tim's crazy low bass notes only intensify; quite a combination, those two. I feel this feeling is wonderfully demonstrated by Duane Allen when he "faints" on Adam when Tim drops his bass bomb at 2:21. Accurate reaction is accurate. 

I really hope that the country music award shows are paying attention because it would be a flat out travesty if this incredible collaboration didn't get recognized. At this point I really can't imagine any kind of vocal event that could surpass this one. Again: you have country music royalty paired with country music first a cappella group on one of the genre's most iconic songs. This is pretty groundbreaking, if you ask me. It deserves all the attention and praise it's already gotten and it deserves oodles more. That's right, I said oodles. 

This collaboration is featured on Home Free's Country Evolution album, coming out on September 18th. You can get this track, along with two others, if you head over to iTunes and pre-order the Deluxe Edition here. Prefer physical copies over digital? They've got you covered - you can pre-order a physical copy here on their website and it'll even be autographed for you. Nice of them, eh? Alternatively, you can pre-order the regular version on Amazon here

If you haven't already, please be sure to check both groups out all over the internet at the following places:

Home Free

The Oak Ridge Boys

As always, thank for reading!

Popular posts from this blog

Album Review: Deep Cuts by Kenny Foster

One of the great things about living in Nashville is all of the writer's rounds that take place around town. I'm sure that you can find writer's rounds in other towns too, but it seems like they happen all over the place and all the time here. There's so many venues to be found throughout venues and more seem to pop up all the time. I first saw Kenny Foster when I went to see country trio Steel Union at Belcourt Taps one night last year. They had some of their friends come up to do a couple of songs as the night went on and Kenny was one of them. I saw him again a few months later at a writer's round.

Truth be told, sometimes writer's rounds can be kind of hit and miss. You find songwriters of all kinds and skill levels. There's some who maybe aren't ready to do a round just yet. But sometimes you find a gem. It's times like that when you realize just how special Nashville is. And I'd place Kenny Foster in that category. He's personable and …

Album Review: The Spirit of the Season by Voctave

I first wrote about the men and women of Voctave back in August during my month of Disney. I did a video spotlight on their beautiful "Disney Love Medley" that featured Kirstin Maldonado and Jeremy Michael Lewis. You can find right that post right here. I definitely recommend checking that out, if only to watch the video. This is another a cappella group that I've basically fallen in love with and one that really makes me miss being in a choir.

Voctave consists of Kate Lott (soprano), Tiffany Coburn (soprano), Ashley Espinoza (alto/soprano), Sarah Whittemore (alto), Chrystal Johnson (alto), E.J. Cardona (tenor), Tony De Rosa (tenor/director), Kurt von Schmittou (baritone), JC Fullerton (bass) and James Ray (tenor/arranger). They're a bigger group than most of the other a cappella groups I listen to and they put out this wall of beautiful harmonies when they sing. Honestly, the word beautiful doesn't even do them justice. They are vocally stunning and captivating…

The continued case for Aldean. Because band members deserve attention too.

As my title states, band members deserve attention too. They deserve to be appreciated and loved by the fans as well. Especially when they're as involved as these guys are. I mean, you seem them in pretty much every video that Jason does and not just in the background either. They tend to get featured pretty heavily. And when you go see them live, it's the same thing. These guys are more than musicians, they're entertainers. Jason's right to use words like we and ours when it comes to their show because that's what it is: their show. Obviously Jason is always going to be the main attraction, but I promise you that you could focus on any of the band guys and still be entertained.

In fact, I'd recommend doing that. At any concert you go to. Take some time to watch everyone on that stage, if only for a little while. Musicians are pretty interesting to watch. There's so many different kinds of players out there. Different kinds of bands. So what kind of band is…