George Jones will perform at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the UMSL campus on Saturday, lugging along a country music tradition that stretches back 55 years.
Known as the ‘voice of country music,’ Jones has been in the music business for more than half a century. But he is about to embark on a new part of his life.
Jones and his fourth wife, Nancy, are busy making the transition to a new home in Dothan, Alabama as part of the Country Crossing entertainment complex project. Jones will have a dinner theater and bed and breakfast named after him, called the Possum Holler Dinner Theater and Bed & Breakfast.
“Ronnie Gilley asked me to be involved in some of the planning for the Country Crossing project, which I was happy to do,” Jones said. “He wanted an artist’s perspective on venues for entertainment that are on the property as well as the dinner theater.”
As far as the move to Alabama, there’s no sign that the couple will be leaving Nashville at all.
“It will be a second home,” Jones said. “I would never want to give up our home in Nashville.”
In fact, Nancy Jones said on Tuesday evening that the couple and staff were busy getting their annual light display put out for everyone to see.
“I’m pretty tired right now,” Nancy said. “We’ve been working all day on the Christmas lights display, because Thanksgiving is next week, and we gotta have them on for the kids to see. We’ll have our rest for Saturday’s show, though. We can’t wait to come back to St. Louis. It’s been a couple of years or more.”
Tickets are $45 to $100 for the show, and available by calling the Touhill center.
Jones admits he’s excited over the holiday display.
“Nancy and I just love to do that for the children,” Jones said. “Oh, and Santa Claus will be there live and in person on Dec. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m.”
Everyone who makes the journey to the Jones’ house for Santa’s arrival is never turned away, as it is a standing tradition in Nashville.
The reason for the move to Alabama is simple. At age 78, Jones has been touring more than 100 dates per year over the last few years.
With the opportunity to become involved in Country Crossing, he can eliminate as much touring, get to do more shows, and see more fans in the process.
“I love it and I love my fans,” Jones said.
Nancy is a major presence for Jones’ fans, and has a special connection with them.
“I think George Jones fans credit me with saving George from himself and for getting him back on track,” Nancy said. “I try to be as cordial and accommodating as possible to George’s fans. Over the years I have gotten to know so many of them and have become good friends with several of them.”
She doesn’t mind sharing Jones with the fans, either.
“I love the fans,” Nancy added. “It never ceases to amaze me at how loyal they are and how much they love George Jones.”
The show Saturday will be the last one before the Jones’ tour heads home for the Thanksgiving holiday, a time for them to reflect on their good blessings.
“We are both very thankful for our family, our health, this wonderful country we live in and the freedom we all enjoy,” Jones said.
Jones has two albums on the market, “Burn Your Playhouse Down” album and the new album, which is only available at Cracker Barrel. But both are classic George Jones.
“‘Burn Your Playhouse Down’ features duets with several of my good friends and people I admire,” Jones said. “Like Leon Russell, Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton, Keith Richards, Vince Gill, Jim Lauderdale, Shelby Lynne, Mark Chesnutt, Mark Knopfler, Marty Stuart, Tammy Wynette and my daughter Georgette Jones.”
“The album at Cracker Barrel, titled ‘George Jones, A Collection of My Best Recollection,’ is George Jones tunes you will know, and there are two never before released songs on there as well.”
What else is up Jones’ sleeve? It’s hard to say, but he will stay busy.
“The Country Crossing deal is the most pressing at this time,” Jones said, “and who knows what the future holds?”