Notes: Solo Drive By

Well this week I’m heading down to Charleston so I may get carried away with the DBT posts. As we all know Jason Isbell has been playing a bunch of small shows and opening up for Son Volt. I guess Booker T joined him on stage at SXSW a couple of weeks. Although there are recordings of his solo shows dating back to 2003 Jason has asked that these not be circulated until his record comes out. Anyway, the article below appeared in Augusta, Georgia’s Metro Spirit. Jason played there on Friday.

Solo Drive-By
Jason Isbell takes a break from the infamous Drive-By Truckers and appears at the Soul Bar BY JOHN J. CANNON
Jason Isbell is one busy guy. With a new solo release looming on the horizon, Isbell looks to spend the next few months winding solo performance dates around acoustic and electric shows with his main gig as guitarist and vocalist for Athens’ Drive-By Truckers. On Friday, March 23, Isbell will make his solo drive-by at the Soul Bar in downtown Augusta. Jason Isbell prepares for release of new CD. Starting out on the Muscle Shoals, Ala., bar circuit in high school, Isbell was mentored by studio session musician and local legend David Hood. After heading to the University of Memphis in 1997 to study English, Isbell would occasionally visit Muscle Shoals on the weekends. It was one such weekend that Isbell would be introduced to Hood’s son Patterson, principal singer-songwriter for the Drive-By Truckers. After participating in an acoustic tour of North Alabama and Memphis with the younger Hood, Isbell quickly wrote a set of songs to get through a solo show he had booked in Memphis. These songs would lead Isbell to a publishing deal with the legendary Fame Studios, home of such classic records as Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.” Just as Isbell was about to follow through on the deal, he was sidetracked by Patterson Hood and the Drive-By Truckers at a Saturday night party where the band was playing. After sitting in with the Truckers, Isbell would join the band for a show in Oklahoma on Monday, learning most of the band’s material in the van. The one-time band mate of “American Idol” finalist Bo Bice, Isbell has been a monster songwriting machine since joining the Drive-By Truckers and contributing the title track to 2003’s “Decoration Day.” Joining the guitar/vocal team of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, Isbell replaced third guitarist/vocalist Rob Malone and never looked back — not even through the corner of his eye. Nearly a year later the Drive-By Truckers released “A Blessing and a Curse,” the band’s third album with Isbell. The group followed up the release with a tour with Atlanta legends the Black Crowes. Despite six releases prior to Isbell joining the band, the Drive-By Truckers never looked at the young guitarist as simply “the new guy.” Instead, the Truckers chose to capitalize on Isbell’s ability for writing memorable Americana pop songs. His writing style has never been more obvious than on the Truckers’ 2006 release. Isbell followed 2006’s touring in promotion of “A Blessing and a Curse” with a break from the Truckers that he used to craft a sizeable group of songs. It would be this burst of creativity that would lead Isbell to begin work on his first solo release, tentatively due in May. Expect him to play many of these songs, as well as many of his classic Drive-By Trucker tunes at the Soul Bar. Heck, Isbell’s even been known to pull out a Patterson Hood song or two.

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