Jason Isbell Dedicates Drive-By Truckers’ ‘Decoration Day’ To Wes Freed In Charlottesville

Freed designed album cover artwork for many DBT records.

By Andy Kahn Sep 5, 2022 7:47 am PDT

Jason Isbell dedicated a rendition of “Decoration Day,” which he wrote while a member of Drive-By Truckers, to artist Wes Freed who died on Sunday. The performance came during Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s encore of their show last night at Ting Pavilion in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Freed, who resided in Richmond, Virginia, met Drive-By Truckers in the late-1990s. He created the album artwork for their 2001 double LP, Southern Rock Opera. Freed continued designing DBT album art, including 2003’s Decoration Day and their most recent studio LP, Welcome 2 Club XIII, which was released in June. Freed also worked with

Drive-By Truckers co-founder Patterson Hood described Freed’s relationship with the band in the forward of The Art of Wes Freed – Paintings, Posters, Pin-ups and Possums, writing:

“Love at first sight. That’s the best description of the relationship between Drive-By Truckers and Wes Freed. It includes the personal relationship we’ve always had which is intrinsically connected to our artistic and business dealings. We’ve always considered Wes a part of the band’s inter-family. His beautiful art has adorned our albums and tour posters and stage backdrops and serves as one of the foremost visual elements of our identity. Wes’s art seems to inhabit its own universe, a world where Hank Williams and Patsy Cline still walk among us, where people co-exist among big scary black birds and there’s an owl in every tree. Every yard has a well and cemetery. It’s a vision that is both cinematic and dreamlike yet you get the immediate impression that to Wes, it’s a world as vivid and real as the one most of us live in day to day.”

Isbell was a member of DBT between 2001 and 2007. The guitarist spoke about his own relationship with Freed during Sunday’s concert at Ting Pavilion.

“I lost an old friend this morning, and a fine citizen of the state of Virginia, Wes Freed, from up in Richmond,” Isbell told the Charlottesville. “He was one of the first people that I met on the road on tour with the Drive-By Truckers many, many years ago. More than 20 years ago, I met Wes Freed. Slept on his couch with his dog. I loved him. He was a great man. He was a great artist. He painted all the covers of those Drive-By Truckers records … this is for Wes Freed.”

The subsequent performance of “Decoration Day” followed a cover of “The Truth” by Precious Bryant that initiated the encore. Singer-songwriter Adia Victoria, who is on tour with Isbell, once again came out to help sing “The Truth.”

Watch both “Decoration Day” and “The Truth” via the audience-captured videos below:

tw757 (See 3 videos)
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (See 64 videos)

tw757 (See 3 videos)
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (See 64 videos) and Adia Victoria (See 40 videos)

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Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit at Ting Pavilion

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