It’s been interesting following Jason Isbell on his journey through his breakthrough album Southeastern. Just before the release, I caught him late one night in a sparsely-filled upstairs at the World Cafe for the NON-COMMvention. He played solo, and when he started his set the chatter at the bar was louder than the song itself. He got a certain hard look in his eyes, and belted out the chorus to the then unreleased “Cover Me Up.” Lights flickered. It got everyone’s attention. And the songs on Southeastern and subsequent performances with his exceptional band the 400 Unit have been doing so ever since. Continue reading →
February brings Valentine’s day (dreaded by some) and the sludge of mid-winter (presumably dreaded by most). Luckily, some revered artists and up-and-coming groups are coming through town to cheer us up. Here are five Philadelphia concerts to catch. Continue reading →
Riding on the heels of this weekend’s patriotic festivities, singer-songwriter favorites Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires have released their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” appearing as the title track for an upcoming song by song tribute to Springsteen’s breakout album. The style on the album, called Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute To Born In The USA hearkens back to Springsteen’s somber Nebraska, bringing a different tone to the album’s original lively spirit.
“Born in the U.S.A.’ is one of my favorite songs of Springsteen’s, making it one of my favorite ever…I love that the song paints a picture of struggle in the face of the American dream, and the irony in the chorus is delivered with such force that it nearly transcends irony altogether.”
Shires also cites the song as a favorite, “Because I write songs and play rock & roll shows, Springsteen is obviously a hero of mine. ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ is one of my favorites because so many people have seemingly misunderstood the lyrical content and the song’s overall tone. When you listen to the demo, the dark, minor key arrangement makes it clear that this is not strictly a song of celebration. We wanted to stay true to that version.”
Check out the track listing below, and listen to Isbell and Shires’ cover of “Born In The U.S.A.” Jason Isbell plays the Philadelphia Folk Festival on August 17th.
1. Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, “Born in the U.S.A.”
2. Apache Relay, “Cover Me”
3. Quaker City Nighthawks, “Darlington County”
4. Blitzen Trapper, “Working on the Highway”
5. Joe Pug, “Downbound Train”
6. Low, “I’m on Fire”
7. Holly Williams, “No Surrender”
8. Ryan Culwell, “Bobby Jean”
9. Trampled by Turtles, “I’m Goin’ Down”
10. Justin Townes Earle, “Glory Days”
11. Nicole Atkins, “Dancing in the Dark”
12. North Mississippi All-Stars, “My Hometown”
The already packed 53rd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival lineup is getting four more additions, including singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, who will be a headliner on Sunday night of the festival. A former member of the band Drive-By Truckers, singer-songwriter Isbell has a southern rock, alternative country influenced sound. The festival also added a bonus concert exclusively for All-Festival Camping Ticket holders on Thursday, August 14 — the night before the festival official starts. The concert will be held in the campgrounds and hosted by World Cafe host David Dye. The night will feature bluegrass and country music singer Sturgill Simpson, vintage country songstress Caroline Rose and roots band Parsonfield. For more information about the festival and tickets, go to the Philadelphia Folk Festival website here. Below, listen to Isbell perform “Live Oak” from his Free at Noon concert from August 2013.
Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell returns to Philly on Wednesday, January 29th to Union Transfer. Tickets go on sale this Friday, November 1st at Noon. The former Drive-By Trucker released the best album of his career this year with the acclaimed Southeastern. The forthright collection of songs, about Isbell’s new found sobriety – encouraged by the support of his wife, Amanda Shires – is filled with love songs and ballads that fully realize the potential of his greatness as a songwriter and performer. In August, Isbell and his band performed a Free At Noon concert at World Cafe Live. Listen to the session here.
After a sold out show out headlining show at the World Cafe Live Wednesday, country rocker Jason Isbell made an encore performance at today’s Free at Noon. This double-take was well received by fans, many of whom had attended both shows. Jason is currently on tour in support of his latest album, Southeastern, which was released June 11th. Check out a gallery of photos below, and listen to the set in its entirety here (via the WXPN media player).
Terry Gross had singer-songwriter Jason Isbell on Fresh Air last week and she asked him to play a song that influenced him when he was young. Isbell, explaining how his dad listened to a lot of Neil Young when Jason was growing up, performed “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.” Listen to it below. WXPN Welcomes Jason Isbell and his wife Amanda Shires to World Cafe Live on Wednesday, August 7. Go here for tickets and more information about the show. Listen to Jason on Fresh Air here.