El Dorado’s Murphy Arts District has announced that Jason Isbell and his mighty band The 400 Unit will play the Griffin Music Hall at MAD on Saturday May 5, 2018. The group also is slated to perform January 21 at Little Rock’s Robinson Center with opener James McMurtry; tickets for the Little Rock concert sold out quickly via Ticketmaster but some are available for resale online as of this writing.
Isbell and crew are touring in support of their highly acclaimed album The Nashville Sound, which has been nominated by the 2018 Grammy Awards for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots song (“If We Were Vampires”).
The band recently made appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and CBS Saturday Morning. Additionally, they just taped their second Austin City Limits. Isbell is also a former member of the Drive-By Truckers.
Ticket pre-sales for the May 5 concert begin this Thursday, January 11. Members of MAD can purchase tickets at 10 am, Thursday; ticket sales to the general public begin at 10 am Friday, January 12. Details can be found on the MAD website, www.eldomad.com, or by calling the box office at 804-444-3007.
Isbell has the gift of taking big, messy human experiences and compressing them into combustible packages made of rhythm, melody and madly efficient language. The songs are full of little hooks – it could be a guitar line that catches one listener, or a quick lyric that strikes to the heart of another – and an act of transference takes place. The stories Jason tells become our own. The music is coming not from Jason and the band, but from within us.
After helping lead the Drive-By Truckers from 2001-07, he launched a solo career and put out a number of albums to much critical acclaim. His third album with backing band The 400 Unit was released last summer, debuting higher on the Billboard 200 than anything he’s previously released at any point, and it recently earning him and the band a Country Music Association nod – his first CMA nomination.
A student of the Muscle Shoals music scene, Isbell released several solo albums in the half-dozen years after leaving the Truckers. In 2013, his fourth solo album, “Southeastern,” featuring accompanying vocals by Kim Richey and Isbell’s wife, Amanda Shires, received overwhelmingly positive critical reviews, and it led to Isbell’s clean sweep of the 2014 Americana Music Awards. Southeastern won Album of the Year, Isbell was named Artist of the Year, and the song “Cover Me Up” was named Song of the Year.
NPR rock critic Ken Tucker listedSoutheastern at No. 1 on his Top Ten albums of 2013, and the record was lauded by top artists such as Bruce Springsteen and John Prine. His next solo record, Something More Than Free (July 2015), debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock, Folk, and Country charts. Although Isbell had enjoyed critical success in the Americana genre, this was the first time he received such high ranking across multiple genres – and it merely revealed his broader and exploding fan base. The album earned two Grammy awards: Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Song (for “24 Frames”). In May 2016, Isbell, already a four-time AMA winner, won two more Americana Music Awards: Album of the Year and Song of the Year (“24 Frames”).
His current band, Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, is primarily made up of musicians from the Muscle Shoals area: Sadler Vaden, also of Drivin’ N Cryin’; Jimbo Hart; Derry DeBorja, formerly of Son Volt; Chad Gamble, brother of Al Gamble; and Isbell’s wife Shires. Isbell and the 400 Unit released their second album, Here We Rest, on April 12, 2011, on Lightning Rod Records. The album was produced and recorded by the band. The song “Alabama Pines” was named Song of the Year at the 2012 Americana Music Awards.
The Nashville Sound quickly reached the No. 1 spot on the U.S. Billboard Indie, Country, Folk, and Rock charts, selling over 100K copies in under 2 months.Joining Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit is legendary guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson. The Los Angeles Times described Thompson as “the finest rock songwriter after Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix.”
Named by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, he has also received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic: from the Americana Music Association in Nashville and from Britain’s BBC.
Thompson co-founded the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention. His recently released album, Still, was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and reached No. 6 on the UK charts. A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s music including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, David Byrne, Don Henley and many others.