Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Country legend George Jones plays Northampton's Calvin Theatre on Tuesday, July 17th at 8PM.

More than 35 years ago, George Jones recorded “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” a song that wondered aloud whether newcomers would come along that could possibly walk in the footsteps of the progenitors and giants of country music. All this time later, it’s not a question we’ve had to seriously consider: Jones himself is still around to step into those shoes of sublimity. They just happen to be exactly his size.

A jury of his peers has found him guilty… of unparalleled vocal superiority. Consider some of these endorsements from fellow music legends: Frank Sinatra famously (and coyly) referred to Jones as “the second greatest singer in America.”  *Garth Brooks summed up the consensus view when he called him “the greatest voice ever to sing country music.” Waylon Jennings expressed a common jealousy when he said, "If we all could sound the way we wanted, we'd all sound like George Jones." Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones put things in more honorific terms: "George Jones is a national treasure and should be treated accordingly.”

Don’t worry, Keith: America hasn’t fallen down on the job when it comes to that kind of lionization. Jones has received the four highest honors that can be granted to anyone in his line of work, starting with his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Ten years later, the president bestowed the National Medal of Arts upon him. In yet another executive-branch moment, Jones was saluted by the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008.

This year, Jones got another top honor to round out music’s most enviable trophy shelf, as the Grammys presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Short of being carved into Mount Rushmore, there aren’t many all-time plaudits left for him to earn.

With a run of songs extending from the mid-1950s into the 21st century, Jones has had a whopping 143 Top 40 country hits – a chart run that renders any “best-of” set that’s not a bulky boxed set woefully incomplete. He'll perform as many of these gems as he can fit into one show when he appears at Northampton's Calvin Theatre this summer on Tuesday, July 17th at 8PM. Tickets are $59.50, $49.50, and $39.50 at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.

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