Wine and roses

George Jones Gold Country Casino, Friday, Feb. 13

Well, you know something is happening, but you just don’t know what it is—do you, Mr. Jones?

“What is it with new, young country radio? They don’t even sing about drinkin’ or cheatin'—hell, I’d be without a job!” country legend George Jones quipped during his packed Valentine’s show at the Gold Country Casino showroom.

Looking like a Southern Baptist Neil Diamond in his snazzy blue suit, “Possum” Jones had all the vigor of a young critter, swaying his acoustic guitar and establishing a friendly, almost Hee-Haw-like rapport with the enthusiastic crowd.

Backed by the solid Jones Boys band, featuring the feverish fiddle work of Jim Buchanan on several instrumentals, Jones delivered his set like a well-oiled ballad machine, tossing in live commercial bits for affiliated products a la the Grand Ol’ Opry, personal happy birthday songs for two local tribal elders, and a tribute (with slide show) dedicated to fellow country legends living and gone, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes.”

I was somewhat disappointed that Jones teased a Merle Haggard guest appearance that never happened and also buried the 1974 chestnut “The Grand Tour” into a shortened medley of hits. But what can you expect from a man with more country charters (over 160) than any artist ever? We even got a 45-year-old No. 1 with the fun-loving’ country rocker, “White Lightning!”

Jones may have quit the sauce, but he don’t need no rocking chair yet.