Jason Isbell and Deadstring Brothers – Beat Kitchen, Chicago 6/22/07

by Woody on June 23, 2007

I have to admit that I didn’t greet the news that Isbell was leaving the Drive by Truckers warmly. I consider DBT to be one the true great American bands of our time and any change in lineup left me feeling uneasy. As much I enjoyed Isbell alongside Patterson and Cooley, he was still the third banana. Could he handle being the front-man?

I caught Jason Isbell along with vastly under-appreciated Deadstring Brothers (from Bloodshot) on Friday at The Beat Kitchen in Chicago. The Deadstring Brothers got things started with a set highlighting their honky-tonk boogie blues. I was happy to find out they had an album prior to Starving Winter Report, which quickly found its way into my pocket. They banged out a 45 minute set, mixing in tracks from both their releases, ending with arguably their best song, “Sacred Heart.” Kurt and Marsha have a nice chemistry as they share the vocals and it translates to their live shows and their albums. Mix in some steel guitar and nice organ work and you have the makings of a damn good live show. I almost didn’t want them to end.

After a brief intermission, Jason Isbell and the motley-looking 400 Unit hit the stage. They began with an original, “Grown,” which is streaming on MySpace now. Then he threw a curveball by playing “The Assassin” off Patterson’s solo record Killers and Stars. Did a damn good job of it as well. From there he gave some high praise to DBT and Patterson and moved into his first DBT song of the night, “Never Gonna Change,” which gave the crowd a jolt.

About this time, Jason stopped for his first Jack break. Good to see some things aren’t changing. In addition to uncorking the bottle, a Bob Seger look-a-like circa Night Moves, bought him a shot at the bar. Jason downed it and used his empty shot glass to play some slide guitar. I thought Seger’s head was going to explode. If I had to guess, that shot glass is adorning his mantle right now.

The rest of the night was a nice mix of originals, DBT songs and covers. “Dress Blues,” a song about his friend Matt Conley, was particularly good. He also did a great version of “Decoration Day,” although the solo lacked a little Cooley Magic.

After a quick break, he came out for his encore which included “Outfit” and ended with Petty’s “American Girl.” All in all, a great evening of music with two great bands. Isbell is more than up to the challenge of fronting his own band. I didn’t think I could be any more excited for his upcoming release, but after seeing him a live, I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on it.

Here’s a taste of Isbell, live at Stubb’s in Austin doing “Dress Blues.”

Jason Isbell MP3’s here.

Deadstring Brothers – Sacred Heart

Deadstring Brothers – Get Up Jake

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

oz June 23, 2007 at 1:38 pm

I must have gotten dirt in my eyes before watching that video. The tear ducts are a little inflamed.

Rock Hancock June 23, 2007 at 2:40 pm

I had never heard the Deadstring Brothers, but was quite impressed. In particular, the guy who plays pedal steel and then whips out a Les Paul to play even more slide, was incredible.

X2 on everything else Woody said about Jason Isbell. I’m looking forward to going to see him again in Denver in August.

Woody June 25, 2007 at 8:44 am

Isbell also played a couple of top-notch covers as well.

1. Please Be With Me by Clapton

2. Birmingham Tonight by Delbert McClinton

My editor didn’t think that was important so he deleted that from the original article. I thought it was so I am reposting it.

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