Brad Paisley: “This year we lost the greatest country singer of all time that I was honored to call my hero and my friend, and the only consolation to me is that we would have lost him so much sooner if it weren’t for that lady right there, Nancy Jones. God bless you, Nancy. Here to pay tribute to the one and only George Jones - The Possum are two of our finest ever, Alan Jackson and George Strait.”
Alan Jackson brought his bluegrass flair and country fan base to New York’s Carnegie Hall last night (October 28) for a substantial, crowd-pleasing two-hour set that was full of emotion, and contained a few surprises as well.
Telling the story behind many of the songs off his latest release, The Bluegrass Album, Jackson also reflected on his many visits to New York City. “I’ve played the Beacon Theater, Radio City, Madison Square Garden, CBGBs,” he said. “It’s amazing for an ol’ boy from Georgia who never traveled anywhere ’til I was 25.”
As he introduced his eight-piece backing band, which included mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, banjo, acoustic guitar, Dobro, and backing singers, Jackson let the audience know they were in for a treat. “I hope you all like good music and good picking.”
While his die-hard fans were present, Jackson didn’t stray from the bluegrass theme of the night, despite their continuous screams for past country hits of his such as “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Remember When” and “Someday.” He did, however, play the poignant “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” a 9/11 tribute, which earned him a rousing standing ovation.
The night also included an ode to George Jones. In prefacing “Blue Side of Heaven,” Jackson talked of how he got word that the country legend was sick and near his last day. Visiting him in the hospital, while it was evident Jones was fading fast, his personality was still big as life, as was his singing.
“I’ve always been drawn to the sad songs. They’ve always come easier,” Jackson explained. “Sad songs just fall out. George . . . in the hospital his body was giving out, but he still sang like George. Laying there, he knew he was dying.” (Jones passed away this past April 26.)
Jackson sent the song “Blue Side of Heaven” to George’s wife, Nancy Jones, after his passing. Accompanied by soaring fiddle, Dobro and slide guitar, Jackson’s emotional vocals filled the performance with his own personal sadness and brought the song to life.
Lee Ann Womack lightened the mood next during a surprise appearance, with Jackson singing her praises before she walked onstage for a duet. Calling her “one of my favorite country singers,” Jackson added that he’s been a fan “since she sang that first note on that first album.” The two sang a striking cover of Don Williams’ “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” which showcased Womack’s memorable vocals.
Throughout his two-hour set, Jackson peppered his performance with stories of his family and where he grew up, as well as select cover songs. These included John Anderson’s “Wild and Blue,” a song he says he’s always loved, and set closer “Blue Moon of Kentucky” by bluegrass founder Bill Monroe, both of which appear on his album.
Jackson also brought out nephew Adam Wright, who wrote “Ain’t Got Trouble Now” and coproduced The Bluegrass Album, to sing lead vocals as he sat on his stool and let him take the spotlight. This is in fact something he did throughout the evening: Every time a bandmember had a solo, Jackson would step back and point to the soloist, urging the audience to take notice.
Highlights of the night included impressive slide guitar on “Tie Me Down,” a song Jackson dedicated to a friend who always had a different girl on his arm every time he saw him, and the beautiful ballad “Mary,” which Jackson said his wife questioned upon first listen.
“I woke up one day and wrote a real pretty love song, and played it for my wife Denise, and she’s like, ‘Who’s Mary?’”
Jackson told her that “Denise” didn’t fit well in the song. He then explained that “Jesus’ mom was named Mary, so I thought she’d be OK with that.”
Excited his bluegrass album finally saw the light of day (“I’ve been trying to cut this album for 15 years,” he said at one point), Jackson admitted that he was nervous to take the stage that evening. But, from the continuous applause and standing ovations throughout his set, the packed Carnegie Hall surely eased his nerves and embraced his bluegrass.
Alan Jackson’s The Bluegrass Album is available now.
Recognized worldwide as the “greatest living country singer,” George Jones represented everything about Country Music and was loved by fellow artists, musicians, producers, publishers, songwriters, video directors and industry executives. On November 22nd, Nashville and beyond will honor the music legend with an all-star tribute, the date that George was to perform the final show of his illustrious career.
“I am so excited how this show has evolved and I will be forever grateful to the artists that are coming to honor George,” says Nancy Jones. “The evening might be long, but I don’t think people will be upset as they will witness the best musical tribute Nashville has ever seen with so many artists performing George Jones songs.”
Playin’ Possum! The Final NO SHOW talent list: (in alphabetical order based on first name, not order of performance)
Alabama, Alan Jackson, Baillie & the Boys, Big & Rich, Bill Anderson, Blake Shelton, Bobby Bare, Brad Paisley, Brenda Lee, Chad Warrix (Halfway to Hazzard), Charlie Daniels, Collin Raye, Craig Morgan, Dailey & Vincent, Daryle Singletary, Dierks Bentley, Eddy Raven, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, Eric Lee Beddingfield, Gary Morris, George Strait, Greg Bates, Gretchen Wilson, Jamey Johnson, Janie Fricke, Jeanne Pruett, Jeannie Seely, Jessi Colter, Jett Williams, Jim Ed Brown, Jim Lauderdale, Jimmy C. Newman, Jimmy Wayne, John Conlee, John Michael Montgomery, Josh Turner, Kathy Mattea, Kentucky Headhunters, Kid Rock, Larry Gatlin, Lee Ann Womack, Lee Greenwood, Leona Williams, Lisa Matassa, Little Jimmy Dickens, Lorrie Morgan, Lynn Anderson, Mandy Barnett, Mark Collie, Martina McBride, Megadeth, Miranda Lambert, Montgomery Gentry, The Oak Ridge Boys, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Ray Stevens, Reba McEntire, Rodney Atkins, Ronnie McDowell, The Roys, Sam Moore, Shooter Jennings, Stonewall Jackson, Suzy Bogguss, T. Graham Brown, Tanya Tucker, Teea Goans, TG Sheppard, Thompson Square, Tracy Lawrence, Travis Tritt, and Vince Gill … plus some surprise guests!!!!
Although the show is SOLD OUT, a special VIP package which includes a show ticket, a VIP pre-show reception with Nancy Jones, and other special items are available on a limited basis. These packages are only available at http://cwired.co/GJ13VIP22
Playin’ Possum! The Final NO SHOW is being produced by Mike Smardak of Outback Concerts, with Suzzane Skinner serving as Talent Producer, Kirt Webster serving as Show Producer, Bobby Birkhead serving as Music Director, Sherry Hohimer handling VIP ticketing, fan club, and serving as assistant to Nancy Jones, and Getty Images will serve as exclusive photojournalists for the evening.
JUST ANNOUNCED: Limited VIP tickets for George Jones - The Possum’s Tribute Concert on November 22 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee have just been released. The VIP purchase includes a VIP backstage reception (before the concert), a meet and greet with Nancy Jones and a photo opportunity, and a gift bag including an event t-shirt, poster, event program, and a personalized gold album for “50 Years of Hits.”
For more information, please visit http://cwired.co/GJ13VIP22
Here’s a “must” for George Jones buffs and any fan of country music—a special collector’s edition from the editors of Country Weekly. This one-of-a-kind collector’s edition, with a foreword by Marty Stuart, includes more than 150 archival photos, a look at George through the decades and an exclusive interview with George’s wife Nancy. Plus, we look at the living legends of today, including George Strait, Reba McEntire and Willie Nelson.
The special issue is available now at http://cwired.co/GJ13CWKLY