Playin' Possum: A Tribute to George Jones
The ArtsCenter, Carrboro
Saturday, May 30, 2015
If John Howie Jr. was an actor by trade, leading a tribute show to George Jones would be the role he was born to play. Saturday night, Howie indeed helmed an all-star cast that took the late Country Music Hall of Famer's catalog head-on. Though it seems safe to assume Howie's golden voice would steal the show, that was not completely the case. Many of the guests offered their own stunning renditions of Jones classics—enough so that the usually docile ArtsCenter crowd howled with approval and several standing ovations.
Richard Boyd, Daniel Snyder, Dex Romweber, Jay Brown, Sarah Shook and Greg Hawks all turned in memorable performances. Others added humor and depth with spirited and perhaps lesser known tunes by The Possum. Steve Howell, Caroline Mamoulides, Taz Halloween, Michael Rank, Jeff Hart, Andy Vaughan and Kenny Roby rounded out the list of guests joining Howie and the Rosewood Bluff for two sets.
At the end of a highlight-filled night, perhaps the two most valuable performers on the stage had not sung a note: Nathan Golub and Tim Shearer were given the unenviable task of taking a set list of many obscure Jones tunes and attempting to match or come close to the many famous licks of the original recordings. Both did so cleanly and clearly, providing an able foundation for the evening.
With two relatively short two sets totaling roughly 90 minutes, many of Jones' best-known tunes were omitted. But based on the thunderous crowd reaction and the strength of the performances, perhaps this was only the first of several installments.