Beverly Keel

Country legend George Jones says he’s working more than he wants to these days, but he plans to trim his tour dates in 2009 to allow him to spend more time on a real estate project.

George is the official spokesman for Ronnie Gilley Properties, an Enterprise, Ala.-based developer that also has partnerships with Alan Jackson, Tracy Lawrence, Lorrie Morgan and Darryl Worley.

Follow up:

“We are building another Branson in Dothan, Alabama, except it’s going to be some of the old music, but they’re going to have all kinds of music — rock, pop and country,” he says of the development called Country Crossings. “There’s going to be different venues. It’s going to be an amazing resort with a bingo casino.

“A lot of different artists are going to have restaurants, clothing stores and furniture stores, all in one big to-do place. It’s going to be a big thing if everything develops right,” George says. For instance, there will be the high-end George Jones’ Possum Holler dinner theater, which will seat about 750.

On Sunday, George and wife Nancy moved into an Enterprise home that has been built for them, but they will maintain their Williamson County residence.

When George does hit the road these days, it’s much easier than in his early career years. He now travels in a beautiful bus where Nancy prepares “good old-fashioned soul country food.”

“Us old-timers used to travel with a station wagon and loaded down inside with a band,” he says. “We only carried about a four-piece band because that’s all we could carry in the car. We would pull a little trailer to hold our instruments and it might have a little closetlike place for our stage uniforms. We slept sitting up, 400-, 500-mile trips every night.

“These kids today, they don’t know what that means. It wouldn’t hurt if some of them had it to do and really knew what it was like back in the old days.”

He teased a couple with whom he works by telling them that he was returning to a van that pulled a trailer. “Two of them turned in their notice,” he says, roaring with laughter. “That is how spoiled everybody is when they get used to a bus.

“Buses sure have made it easier for the way we travel.”