When George Dunham lost both his parents after the turn of the millennium, the local sports radio personality took his grief and turned it into a good cause. This Friday's eighth annual Jub Jam marks the latest chapter in Dunham's mission with a sold-out charity event at South Side Music Hall at Gilley's, where acts like The Gordon Keith Band and Kylie Rae Harris will be joined by Dunham's own The Bird Dogs and special surprise guest.
Dunham's voice is familiar to many, as is his name — or rather, his nickname. The event's namesake and primary organizer, he's affectionately referred to as “Jub” by both his 1310 AM The Ticket cohosts and by the station’s loyal listening collective, known as “P1s.” He has delivered daily hot sports opinions on The Ticket for 25 years, called games for local sports teams and had a stint manning the P.A. for the Dallas Cowboys.
But 15 years ago, Dunham lost his father to failing health, with his mother having passed just a few years prior. Despite the emotional turmoil involved in losing one’s parents, Dunham felt fortunate that they had planned — and had the means to receive — proper end-of-life care. During the numerous visits to doctors and nursing homes, Dunham began noticing that many elderly people lacked the crucial support systems needed to prolong quality of life.
“My eyes were opened up to how difficult it can be for families," Dunham says. "When my mom was in assisted living, she had a roommate. Every day either my sister, a family friend or I would go see my mom, but her roommate would maybe have one visitor a month. It was just heartbreaking.”
Soon after his parents' passings, Dunham reached out to The Senior Source, a local organization that assists, protects and connects senior citizens in various capacities. Access to healthcare, transportation, advice or just basic companionship are some of the many services the charity provides.
Moved by their mission, Dunham found one of his own for his band, The Bird Dogs, which he started 10 years ago. Like many Texans, Dunham cut his teeth on Texas/Red Dirt country music by listening to trailblazers Pat Green, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen. Originally intended to be a fun side gig, The Bird Dogs have put out three records but found their calling when their leader tapped into his growing musical network of friends to put on the first Jub Jam and help raise money.
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“The first one we did in 2012 was thrown together pretty quickly and we raised about $18,000,” Dunham says. “Each year we’ve increased that amount by $5,000 to $10,000 and it now takes about six months of planning to put the event together.”
Since its inception, Jub Jam has raised close to $400,000 for The Senior Source. Last year the event outgrew its previous home at The Kessler Theater and filled the larger South Side Ballroom at Gilley’s. Dunham plans to squeeze in a few more folks this year, and with the help of The Gordon Keith Band, Kylie Rae Harris, Bobby Duncan, Steve Helms and Michael Padgett, he hopes to cross the half-million dollar mark.
In addition to the core lineup, Dunham always brings in a headliner. Wade Bowen, Cody Jinks, Flatland Cavalry and Larry Joe Taylor have all played Jub Jam. This year’s special guest remains a secret but is being teased as a “Texas music legend.”
Although the show is sold out, KTCK 1310 is giving out a few remaining seats. For more information about Jub Jam, go to www.theticket.com. For more on The Senior Source, visit theseniorsource.org.