Thursday, May 28, 2015

Jason Isbell at Boston Calling--May 24, 2015

Wow. Jason Isbell seems to be EVERYWHERE these days. He'll be down in Texas for Austin City Limits in a few weeks, Newport Folk in July, four dates at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in October that are already sold out, and this past weekend he was right here in town at City Hall for fifth incarnation of the bi-annual The Boston Calling Music Festival.

It was one of the hottest days of the year so far when Jason Isbell took to the Boston Calling Jet Blue Stage. He and The 400 Unit (Chad Gamble, Saler Vaden, Derry DeBorja, Jimbo Hart) played to a medium-sized crowd, but a loyal crowd singing along and keeping a beach ball afloat over their heads. Out of the corner of my eye I couldn't help but notice a cluster of four college kids. At the start of the set they had their backs to the stage and were having their own conversation, but by the end they were transfixed and swaying just like everyone else.

Isbell's set--opening with "Stockholm" off of 2013's Southeastern--was a steady blend of his solo material as well as tunes from the six years he spent with The Drive-By Truckers.  One such track was "Decoration Day" the title song from the Truckers record from 2003.The song tells the story of a generations-long feud between two families, and Isbell wrote it three days after joining the band. He was only twenty-two. Songs from his solo repertoire included "Travelling Alone", "Flying Over Water", and "Cover Me Up" among others. Of course he sprinkled some new songs in the set as well including "24 Frames" and "Speed Trap Town" from  Something More Than Free, due out July 17th.
he closed out the set, though, with The Drive-By Truckers' "Never Gonna Change" which he graciously thanked the crowd for loving.

-Kendall Stewart

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