OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Country music king George Jones bringing final tour to Joliet

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column.
2012-12-02T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Country music king George Jones bringing final tour to JolietPhilip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, 219.852.4327 nwitimes.com
December 02, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet announced Thursday they've booked country music George Jones for a spring date as part of his announced "Final Grand Tour."

I've seen the legendary George Jones perform a number of times, beginning as far back as 1993.

I also remember watching him with ex-wife Tammy Wynette perform together during a short national tour that brought them to the Star Plaza Theatre during Labor Day weekend in 1997.

When I saw the concert with my parents, I recall thinking how high-energy Jones appeared to be, while Wynette was frail and sat during most of the show.

It was just a few months before Wynette died from a blood clot at age 55 the following April.

But after I watched Jones, who is now 81, perform in 2010 his at Blue Chip Hotel and Casino, I observed it now seems much of his energy, zest and voice are just as drained.

Still, I applaud any performer dedicated to the craft, and I'm especially grateful for those singers who really sing on stage, rather than lip-sync to a soundtrack.

In November 2009, he last performed at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville. And in November 2010, he also played the Rialto in Joliet.

As for the details for the spring farewell tour date and his return to Joliet, it's one concert performance at 8 p.m. March 15, 2013. Tickets are $34 to $85 and available by calling (815) 726-6600 or rialtosquare.com. Tickets go on sale 9 a.m. Dec. 7.

For his Blue Chip performance, he performed for a solid hour and a half, but there was very little banter with the audience and he never even picked up his guitar.

Of course, some of Jones' most famous songs were recorded with Wynette (his second of four wives) and were all No. 1 hits, such as "We're Gonna Hold On" in 1973, "Golden Ring" in 1976 and "Near You" in 1977.

During his song "Choices," one of his stronger numbers during the night, large screens displayed the infamous news footage of Jones being arrested on the side of the road in the early '80s, along with photos of theater marquees (including the Genesee Theater north of Chicago) announcing the cancellation of Jones' concerts over the years, which led to his tag as "No Show Jones."

His current wife, since 1983, Nancy Sepulveda, 57, is also his manager and credited by her husband with rescuing him from drinking and drugs. Today, the couple has lived in Franklin, Tenn. for the past 17 years and Jones has switched out his whiskey glass for a coffee mug. (His 16-ounce bags of Possum Coffee are sold for $10 on his website at georgejones.com, along with, ahem, whiskey shot glasses also available for $5).

In recent months, the couple have been desperately trying to sell their Tennessee estate, include some large color advertisements for it I've noticed published in Daily Variety.

Their latest attempt was in July, when Jones and wife were unsuccessful in auctioning off the estate. According to press accounts, they refused a few "low bids" made for the house and they surrounding 78-acres they own.  The home, which is located just south of Nashville, originally went on the market in 2011 with a $15.5 million price tag. The price was then dropped to $10 million.

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