'The George Jones Show'

Country music legend performs at Mile One in St. John's

Published on April 22, 2008
Country crooner George Jones sings one of his songs at the opening of his show at Mile One Centre in St. John's Monday evening. The singer played to a capacity crowd. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

As people take their seats a spotlight illuminates a man on stage who has an important message: "Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make about George Jones."

Given the legendary country singer's notoriety for last minute cancellations, which earned him the nickname "No Show Jones," the sudden deafening silence was not surprising. The announcer, however, was Jones' bass player Vaughan Reed, who was only joking around with the audience. Jones soon stepped out onto the stage.

As people take their seats a spotlight illuminates a man on stage who has an important message: "Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make about George Jones."

Given the legendary country singer's notoriety for last minute cancellations, which earned him the nickname "No Show Jones," the sudden deafening silence was not surprising. The announcer, however, was Jones' bass player Vaughan Reed, who was only joking around with the audience. Jones soon stepped out onto the stage.

It's just as well. Jones' visit to Newfoundland has been a long time coming after all and, given the demographic of some of Jones' fans, this could be the last chance to see him for many of them.

Marketed as "The George Jones Show," the event was all about seeing the man who has charted more singles than any other musician in any format of music, ever.

It was Jones' "legend" status that nearly filled Mile One Centre to capacity Monday evening, but if ticket holders were expecting to hear the hits the way they knew them, they might have been a bit disappointed.

At 76, Jones isn't out to break new ground. In fact, judging by the marketing techniques directed at the Mile One crowd - including a pitch for Newfoundlanders to order Jones' own brand of bottled water online and have it shipped from Tennessee - it would be more accurate to call the tour a cash-grab.

Marketing aside, ticket sales were about the music and Jones did in fact pen some of country music's biggest hits, including "Why Baby Why," "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "The Race Is On" and "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair."

And to his credit, Jones performed for a solid hour and a half and managed a couple dozen songs.

There were moments, however, when it wasn't hard to feel a bit empathetic as he struggled to hit a good number of the notes he once sang famously and gracefully. Jones even poked fun at himself for the mishaps and seemed mildly embarrassed.

Nonetheless, the crowd came alive with such songs as "Choices" and the 1985 hit "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," the former featuring images of Jones in his more controversial years projected onto a screen behind the stage.

Opening for Jones was Jason Byrd, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter from Florida who is managed by Jones' wife, Nancy.

Byrd's traditional style appealed to the crowd and the acoustic performance was refreshing. His time slot was short, though, as he was only to play six numbers.

He returned to the stage a few times though to sing with Jones, including the Jones and Merle Haggard duet "Yesterday's Wine".

The performances by Brittany Allyn, who filled in nicely on the duets Jones recorded with Tammy Wynette such as "Take Me" and "Golden Ring," can't go unmentioned - they were revitalizing.

Jones may still not need a rockin' chair, but he should be able to deliver a performance that can justify a $60 ticket price. Otherwise, it may be time to enjoy retirement before it's too late.

After all, in country music, without the 'tonk', you've only got 'honky.'

Marketed as 'The George Jones Show,' the event was all about seeing the man who has charted more singles than any other musician in any format of music, ever.