Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit have been playing several fairly rainy nights of socially distanced performances at the Caverns venue in Pelham, Tennesse which concluded on Sunday night, but the previous night’s show took place on the birthday of the late John Prine. In honour of that occasion, Isbell and wife Amanda Shires played a belting version of the Prine classic ‘Storm Windows’ which was appropriate given the weather at the time. It’s not the first time they’ve played the song – indeed in 2014 the pair even got to sing it with its creator at the Grand Ole Opry. You can watch some of Saturday’s performance of the song below.
That is a wrap from us this week dear reader. We leave you with a clip of Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires performing one of NPR’s marvellous Tiny Desk Concerts but this time at home. People can have desks at home you know. The songs are all from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s Spring release ‘Reunions’ which feels like as apt a title for an album this year, or maybe next year. As Jason says, this year has “been a little difficult, we haven’t gotten to do the thing we feel we were born to do.” This is probably the next best thing though. Have a good one.
Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell have released a new song called ‘The Problem’ in which they take on the characters of a couple having an honest, difficult conversation about abortion. The track’s release coincides with International Safe Abortion Day which took place earlier in the week and proceeds from its sales will go to the Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama based reproductive justice organisation. In the last year, draconian, punitive abortion laws have been enacted in Alabama and neighbouring states. “The South is in need of a lot of help,” Shires told Rolling Stone: “I don’t understand why it’s such a big issue, as big of an issue as it is. Because once you have a baby, there’s no social programming to help. It’s all control.”
You may have seen Van Morrison in the press last week raging against restrictions because of Covid with a new batshit song which goes: “No more lockdown / No more government overreach / No more fascist bullies / Disturbing our peace… No more taking of our freedom / And our God-given rights / Pretending it’s for our safety / When it’s really to enslave …” Ahem. Anyway Jason Isbell has taken note on his wife Amanda Shires’ weekly YouTube show I So Lounging, where he comments: “[Van] likes to say things, like the government asking you to not give everyone the COVID-19 virus is akin to slavery. I disagree with that statement very much.” Then putting on a mask he says, “I don’t know that this’ll protect me from the virus, but I’d like for it to protect me from Van.” They then do do a delightful cover of Van’s 1970 song ‘Into The Mystic’, so you know, we can still all be friends. Watch below.
Well that’s a wrap from us this week everyone. Enjoy the blistering weather, hopefully while listening to the wonderful new Charley Crockett album (but spare a thought for the poor folks in Abadan, Iran Climate change is “fake news” of course…) We leave you anyway this week dear reader with a clip of Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell playing three songs from the former’s album to kick off Literary Hub’s new video performance series in support of Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that teaches reading and writing to thousands of low-income and marginalized students every year. “One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was when I was studying at Sewanee University in the south,” Shires said. “My professor, Andrew Hudgins — who is a fantastic and wonderful poet — told me that a lot of times when you’re writing, the actual start of where you think the start is isn’t at the start.” Find out more in the clip. Have a good one.
RS Country has a nice feature up at the moment on Amanda Shires’ fundraising ‘I So Lounging’ shows which have been broadcast live each evening over the last month and which feature her other half Jason Isbell, and Seth Plemmons among others. Continue reading “Amanda Shires: “I’m just going to play music every day””
Earlier in the week we gave you Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s remote rendition of their classic ’24 Frames’ and now just in time for the weekend they’ve released a version of ‘Something More Than Free’, the title track of Isbell’s 2015 solo album. Isbell is joined for the recording by bandmate and wife Amanda Shires surrounded by 400 Unit members Jimbo Hart, Sadler Vaden, Chad Gamble, and Derry deBorja. As RS notes, the song “about the grind of blue-collar existence and the hope for an afterlife that doesn’t require back-breaking labor” has a special resonance while so many employed via the gig economy are currently out of work because of the pandemic.
Apologies for completely missing this last week – Josh Ritter played one of NPR’s magical little Tiny Desk concerts last week, as they described it “with the enthusiasm of a young child and the wisdom of an old soul”. Accompanying him was Amanda Shires on fiddle and Jason Isbell on acoustic guitar, both of who played on Ritter’s recent album ‘Fever Breaks’ which indeed Isbell produced. You can watch it below. Continue reading “Josh Ritter plays NPR Tiny Desk Concert with Amanda Shires And Jason Isbell: Watch”
The 18th annual Americana Honors & Awards is happening next month over in Nashville and they have announced the performing lineup for their big ceremony which takes place on the 11th. The list includes (deep breath…) Continue reading “AMA announces its line-up for 2019 awards ceremony”
The Highwomen, if you haven’t heard, are a like a new up to date female version of the Highway Men (geddit?), the country supergroup from the 80s which included Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. The Highwomen are Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby, and they performed the song ‘Eagle When She Flies’ at the Newport Folk Festival Saturday night, with backing from Mr Shires, Jason Isbell. Their self-titled debut album is coming out in September.