Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell @ The Independent – Moments that gave me chills.

by oz on April 11, 2009

Justin Townes Earle and Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit were in San Francisco last week, so I made the 40 minute commute into the city to check out the show at The Independent. I hired a babysitter and took the wife with me, so I didn’t take any pictures. You can’t interrupt date night with music blogging antics, but it was a great night of music. Several moments gave me chills and made my neckbeard stand up on end.

If you like country music and haven’t seen Justin Townes Earle yet, you’re missing out. Watching the stage banter between he and his long time friend, Corey Younts, is entertaining in itself, but these guys are truly talented musicians. I’d recommend situating yourself in front of Corey to watch him switch off between banjo, uke and harmonica. It’s jaw-dropping.

The song in Justin’s set that gave me chills was “Mama’s Eyes.” He gave an intro talking about how he wasn’t miraculously conceived as a Steve Earle solo project and, contrary to what you may have read, he actually does have a mother. I’ve seen similar interviews where Justin says that this song is just a way to give credit where credit is due in his upbringing. It’s his momma who raised him while daddy was on the road.

Video: Justin Townes Earle – Mama’s Eyes (Live at Spaceland in LA)

In contrast to Justin’s stripped down, country ho-down set, Jason Isbell took the stage next with his band, The 400 Unit, and exploded with their electric guitar driven, southern rock sound. The goosebumps popped up when he introduced “Dress Blues” and dedicated it to his childhood friend who died in the war. I love the song because Jason doesn’t point fingers or take pot-shots at the government. He paints a picture of family, friends and small towns coping with the loss of a loved one. It’s not a protest song. It’s just a tribute to his friend that we can all identify with. You could hear a pin drop when he performed it.

Video: Jason Isbell – Dress Blues (Live at Stubbs)

After I dried my eye, I recognized the first chords of the follow-up song which stood in stark contrast to they cry for peace on “Dress Blues.” Jason Isbell’s cover of “The Assassin,” written by former Drive-By Trucker band mate, Patterson Hood, is always a highlight and one that we’ve discussed before. It tells the tale of a professional killer that “loses his taste” for killing.

Video: Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – The Assassin (Patterson Hood Cover)

The rest of Isbell + 400 were tracks mostly from their new album with some DBT gems like “Goddamn Lonely Love” mixed in. Watching Jason play guitar is worth the price of admission.

These guys are heading into Chicago on April 17th for a show at Double Door. If you’re in the windy city, I’d recommend getting there.

Justin Townes Earle – Mama’s Eyes

Patterson Hood – The Assassin

Jason Isbell – The Assassin (Live, solo)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Worship Leader April 12, 2009 at 3:40 am

Thank you for sharing this topic! I know lot of people who love to play and learn guitar playing would find this very useful! Thanks again for sharing!

Baron Lane April 12, 2009 at 3:56 pm

I was there right in front of the stage during the JTE set and back by the bar for Isbell. I was less impressed with Isbell and his overall work since leaving the EDTs but there is no denying that Dress Blues is one of his finest.

oz April 12, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Well then, I did see you there! I should have said hello, but tapping random bald dudes on the shoulder isn’t really my thing.

oz April 20, 2009 at 9:21 pm

I need to correct myself. I kept saying that Corey was playing a uke when in fact it was a mandolin.

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