Happy Birthday Jason Isbell: Performing Live In New York City For PBS In 2014

By Scott Bernstein Feb 1, 2021 12:41 pm PST

Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell today celebrates his 42nd birthday. The Green Hill, Alabama native first came to prominence as a member of Drive-By Truckers before forming his own band, Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit. JamBase celebrates Jason’s birthday with a look at a 2014 performance featured in the PBS special American Songbook – Jason Isbell: Moving Forward.

Jason Isbell grew up near the musical capital of Muscle Shoals, home of legendary recording facilities FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Isbell first picked up guitar and various other instruments as a youngster and was performing locally by the time he reached high school. He followed a stint studying at the University of Memphis by returning home to work with FAME after scoring a publishing deal.

Drive-By Truckers recruited Isbell to join in 2001 and his stint in the group lasted through 2007, the same year Jason released his debut solo album, Sirens Of The Ditch. Jason Isbell went on to form the 400 Unit and put out the Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit album in 2009. He’s since released a mix of albums under the band’s name and his own name the latest of which was 2020’s Reunions, his seventh solo effort and fourth backed by the 400 Unit. Jason Isbell has won four Grammys and a variety of other accolades.

On January 30, 2014 Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit played the picturesque Allen Room in the Frederick P. Rose Hall within New York City’s Lincoln Center overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle. The performance was filmed for American Songbook – Jason Isbell: Moving Forward, a PBS special that premiered on April 11, 2014.

Isbell, his wife, fiddler Amanda Shires, guitarist Sadler Vaden, bassist Jimbo Hart, multi-instrumentalist Derry DeBorja and drummer Chad Gamble were joined by a horn section for part of their set. The video below compiles the portion of the concert that aired on PBS as well as web exclusive performances.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit opened with “Flying Over Water” from his latest album at the time, 2013’s Southeastern. He then told the story behind and performed “Decoration Day,” a song he wrote and contributed to Drive-By Truckers’ 2003 LP of the same name. Isbell and company returned to Southeastern for “Stockholm,” “Relatively Easy,” “Cover Me Up,” “Traveling Alone” and “Elephant.”

The first cover of the evening was “Heart On A String,” Candi Stanton’s 1970 single recorded in Muscle Shoals. Isbell then fronted his group on “Outfit” from his DBT days and Southeastern standout “Super 8.” Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit’s take on The Rolling Stones classic “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” plays over the end credits ahead of web exclusive performances of “Alabama Pines,” “Codeine,” “Different Days,” “Go It Alone” and “Tour Of Duty.” The group’s full “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” closes out the video.

Watch American Songbook – Jason Isbell: Moving Forward below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTkddvkIX_Y&ab_channel=HouseofaThousandGuitars
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