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Country legend George Jones performs benefit concert

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Old 09-14-2006, 07:16 AM   #1
BobbyB
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Smile Country legend George Jones performs benefit concert

Country legend George Jones performs benefit concert
The Virginian-Pilot
September 14, 2006

This should be a happy time for country music purists, at least 99 percent of whom regard George Jones as the ultimate country singer.

For one thing, he's in town tonight for a fundraiser for the DC/MD/VA Chapter & The Jim "Catfish" Hunter Foundation for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. For another, he has an album coming out next month. This one pairs him with Merle Haggard. "Kickin' out the Footlights... Again" has an interesting concept. Possum sings his five favorite Hag songs, Hag sings his five favorite Possum songs. They team up on four numbers including the Hag-penned title piece.

The last time they recorded together was when they released the 1982 album "A Taste of Yesterday's Wine," including the Willie Nelson song "Yesterday's Wine." The title song landed at the top of the country charts, where Jones lived for many moons.

Tonight, fans will hear not only the Jones gems, they also will have the opportunity to meet and greet him - and wish him a belated happy birthday. He turned 75 Tuesday.

Hard to believe, but he has released nearly 200 albums and has charted about 170 singles, which rivals any artist in any format. Signature songs include "White Lightning," "Window Up Above," "She Thinks I Still Care, "The Race Is On" and, of course, the country song, "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

The first release by the purest of country singers was a rock 'n' roll type piece. In the mid-1950s, using the fascinating pseudonym of Thumper Jones, he recorded "Rock It."

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Like most performers in his genre, he mixes upbeat with ballads, once referring to the latter as "sad, slopping tear-jerkers."

Unlike most of today's country singers, he does his thing minus any distractions. In 2001, while performing at the nTelos Pavilion in Portsmouth, he said, "I don't have no smoke, no one is flying over the audience or running up and down the staircase. Y'all came to hear country music."

That will be the story tonight at the Granby as he helps raise money in the fight against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"It slowly robs the body of all voluntary muscle control," said Helen Hunter of Hertford, N.C. It is something she knows well. It took the life of her husband, Jimmy "Catfish" Hunter, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, in September 1999.

"He was having problems loading his gun for hunting one day in February of 1998," she remembered. "He started going to doctors because of the weakness in his right arm. He was finally diagnosed with ALS."

In 2004, Jeanne Rabinowitz of Virginia Beach was diagnosed with ALS. Her son, Ned, former owner of Station 2 Restaurant in Norfolk and now promoter and talent buyer for the Granby, arranged the Jones concert to do something Helen Hunter has been doing for several years - raise money in the fight against ALS.

Hunter is expected to be there, but Rabinowitz will not.

"The stage where she is now - it's too difficult for her to get out," her son said.

The proceeds are used

for research and to help patients with wheelchairs, lifts and medicine. Some money has been given to Dr. Jim Bennett at the University of Virginia for research on finding a cause and cure for ALS.

So, tonight presents the opportunity to spend a few hours with George Jones and contribute to a good cause.


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