Jason Isbell is coming to Vail tonight
The southern rocker's tour has seen highlights including a Jimi Hendrix cover
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit will wrap up the Whistle Pig Vail concert series at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater today, Sept. 18. It’s also the last show at the outdoor venue for the summer, so those interested in seeing one last performance under the stars should get out for Isbell.
Before entering the music world, Jason Isbell attended the University of Memphis. He had an academic scholarship and was pursuing a degree in creative writing. But he never graduated, leaving without completing a one-credit physical education requirement.
Isbell’s music career started in 2000 when he landed a songwriting and publishing job at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. He was 21 years old. As a teenager, he’d gotten to know the two co-founders of Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. Most of the members of the Truckers are from the area. In 2001, when guitarist Rob Malone missed an acoustic house show, the band asked Isbell to sit in. He joined the band soon after.
He also struck up a relationship with bassist Shonna Tucker. He’d known her since he was 16, and she joined the band a year after their marriage in 2002. The two are now divorced. At the same time that Isbell’s relationship was crumbling, so was his relationship with the other bandmates. Heavy drinking and infighting prompted him to leave the band in 2007.
Publicly, the band stated that Isbell was leaving to pursue a solo career and other creative endeavors, but Isbell told the New York Times in 2013 that Hood told him to take some time off from the band, and Isbell said that the Truckers couldn’t tour under that name without a key band member. The band wouldn’t let him come, so he was forced to leave.
Since 2007, Isbell completed rehab and is now outspoken about his sobriety. He met and married Amanda Shires, also a country musician. Shires is on tour with her husband and the 400 Unit, and will open the night with her country- and folk-influenced sound.
Isbell’s last original album, “The Nashville Sound,” came out in 2017, but Isbell’s been active since. He and the 400 Unit released a live album last year, “Live from the Ryman.” He also wrote “Maybe It’s Time” for Bradley Cooper’s 2018 remake of “A Star Is Born” starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. Isbell was one of an elite group of collaborators that worked on Sheryl Crow’s recent and final album, “Threads.” He joined Crow to perform their rendition of the Bob Dylan song, “Everything Is Broken,” on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” last Monday.
His show yesterday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre was sold out and boasted special guests David Crosby and Friends. He covered Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York on Saturday. Tickets for his Vail show start at $49.95 for lawn seating and $85.75 for pavilion seating. Visit grfavail.com or call 970-845-8497 for tickets and more information.