Jelly Roll Raises a Glass to George Jones With Mournful ‘Bartender’s Blues’ Cover [Watch]
Jelly Roll brought a tear-in-your-beer, mournful waltz to Huntsville, Ala., on Wednesday night (April 26), as part of his participation in the all-star tribute concert commemorating the 10th anniversary of George Jones' death.
At the event, called Still Playin' Possum: Music and Memories of George Jones, Jelly performed his rendition of Jones' late-'70s classic, "Bartender's Blues." That song was originally released by James Taylor in 1977, but Jones made it his own the following year, including it as the title track for his 1978 album. This version of "Bartender's Blues" — which featured Taylor on backing vocals — became a staple of the country great's catalog and live set, and he recorded it once more as a duet with Trisha Yearwood in 1994.
Jelly's faithful cover of this country classic proved his stripes, with the modern-day country hitmaker embracing a traditional-leaning waltz style and infusing his vocal delivery with every bit of Jones' original sorrow and world-weary disillusionment.
Fan-captured video of Jelly's performance provides an up-close look at the singer's magnetic stage presence, and the powerful crowd reaction to his take on Jones' song. The story line of "Bartender's Blues" — which spotlights a bartender who's feeling trapped by the "four walls" of his job, and searching for a "honky tonk angel" to give him new reason to live — is a natural fit for Jelly's own storytelling style, which often draws from subject matter like addiction, depression and hard times.
Jelly was one of many country stars to perform as part of the Still Playin' Possum tribute show. Others who took the stage included Dierks Bentley, Wynonna Judd, Brad Paisley, Tanya Tucker, Justin Moore, Gretchen Wilson and many more. Randy Travis made a special appearance onstage during the event.