I knew something was amiss when in the same week, the name of Ben “Cooter” Jones of all people had been evoked on Saving Country Music multiple times, and for multiple reasons; first in an album review for the Ben Davenport Band, and then as part of the backlash to CMT’s new show Party Down South. Best known as the real-life counterpart of The Dukes of Hazzard character “Cooter Davenport”—Hazzard County’s mechanic and Duke Boy ally—Ben Jones has lead an industrious life to say the least, and at 72 years of age is showing no signs of slowing down.
Jones is the owner-operator of the Cooter’s Place Dukes of Hazzard museums and gift shops that have locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tennessee—dedicated to preserving the legacy of iconic television show. Aside from being an actor, Jones has also been a playwright, once penning a one-man play about baseball player Dizzy Dean, and is also known as a political essayist. And then of course there was that little thing when he was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia’s 4th District from 1989 to 1993 before being displaced through redistricting.
Ben Jones is a music lover as well, and has been putting his heart into hosting and helping to organize The Shenandoah Jamboree at the Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns in Virginia that holds forth the first Saturday of every month, March through November, and features traditional country talent like Tommy Cash and Barbara Fairchild. “It’s a wonderful show,” says Shenandoah Valley resident Bob Rimel. “Ben “Cooter’ Jones is trying very hard to keep country music alive, especially here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.”
Jones is also the frontman of “Cooter’s Garage Band” that plays classic country, rock and roll, and 50’s doo-wop. “They are a band full of talented musicians, and they let me sing; but really I am just an actor pretending to be a singer,” says Jones. “We have been performing together for fifteen years now.”
As if Ben Jones didn’t have enough on his plate, he has also decided to join the voices of dissent again CMT’s new reality show Party Down South. Incidentally, reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard also air on CMT, and the confluence has created a showdown between CMT and Cooter. As a former actor on a Southern-based television show, Ben “Cooter” Jones’ opinions seem especially poignant, and like Saving Country Music, was shocked at the content of simply the ads for the show. Jones told rockingodhouse.com,
I am not pleased with the commercial that airs during our show’s time slot called “Party Down South.” The Dukes of Hazzard is a family-friendly show, and people watch it with their children and families. They have no place showing a commercial that promotes smut, drunks, and filth in-between commercial breaks of The Dukes of Hazzard. The show Party Down South makes the South look stupid, and not all of us Southerners act like that. It is from the same people who produced Jersey Shore; it’s a load of trash, and I don’t like it. Now, people have the right to watch whatever they want, and I am a grateful to be back on CMT. I just don’t believe that they should show dirty, filthy commercials during the breaks in our show. Nobody of decency and in there right minds would care to see that load of junk anyway!
Ben Jones waged a battle with CMT to get the ads running during The Dukes of Hazzard pulled, especially during a 35th Anniversary event, and apparently won. On Monday (1-27), Ben Jones released this message:
If I’m not mistaken, and I sure hope not, it looks like Hazzard Nation has won
another important victory for good clean fun. Yesterday’s Dukes 35th Anniversary Marathon
was free of those sleazy commercials for the pathetic “Party Down South” show.
Dukes fans let CMT know in no uncertain terms how they felt about this insult to
family viewers and how they felt about their kids being exposed to this trash.
They don’t want to admit it, but I’ve got a feeling our message got through. I think it
would be a good idea to thank them for their response to our concerns. (And I also
think it would be a good idea to “keep their feet to the fire” on this one.)
Some folks have written to me thanking me for taking a strong stand on this. But it wasn’t me,
it was a whole lot of y’all standing up for what is so obviously right. CMT and their sponsors
have hopefully seen their mistake and have corrected it.
By the way, they are claiming “Party Down South” is a “hit”, even though it didn’t finish in
the top 100 shows playing last Thursday night. Some “hit”! They don’t measure old syndicated re-runs like
“The Dukes”, but I’ll bet you a dollar we whipped them.
Thanks for all of your support of our show for all these years. America loves the “Dukes”!
Ben Jones aka “Cooter”
It looks like decades later, Ben “Cooter” Jones is still fighting for what’s right in the South.