JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT
At 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12. With Repeating Family Patterns (at 8 p.m.)
Loco’s Grill & Pub, 301 W. Broughton St. $15
Former Drive–By Trucker Jason Isbell has been on an uphill swing since checking out of that band in 2007, and releasing the dark and bluesy solo album Sirens of the Ditch. Not only is Isbell a guitarist’s guitarist, he’s a songwriter of considerable depth and feeling, something that wasn’t tapped to its full potential during his Trucker tenure.
Friday’s gig at Loco’s will be Isbell’s second Savannah appearance since unleashing Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, his erstwhile second album, appeared in the waning days of 2009. Spin gave the album a four–star revue, Rolling Stone said it was “not to be missed.” Pitchfork praised Isbell’s strikingly clearheaded lyricism.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit was cut at Alabama’s legendary Muscle Shoals Studio, just a pickup–truck hop down the highway from Isbell’s home in Florence.
The Drive–By Truckers, he told us in February, had started to become less than satisfying for him. “It’s something that had been devolving for a while – more on a personal level than on a musical level. Just because when you ride all around in a van with your best friends, for a long period of time, that’s going to start happening. The time’s gonna come when you don’t want to be around those people. And they don’t want to be around you.
“I do feel like musically we were probably moving in different directions. You know, I think the music I’ve made since then is pretty different from what they’ve made since then.” See jasonisbell.com
BETH MCKEE TRIO
At 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14
Randy Wood Guitars, 1304 U.S. 80, Bloomingdale. $25
We've said it before and we'll say it again: For exquisitely good roots, acoustic and American eclectica, this tiny little performance hall in Bloomingdale has consistently got the goods. Many of Randy Wood's shows are on a par - or better - than those offered up by the Savannah Music Festival. And they come a tad more regularly.
Case in point is this Sunday's appearance by Mississippi singer and pianist Beth McKee, who was a charter member of the short-lived group Evangeline (which was, significantly, personally signed to a major label deal by Jimmy Buffett, back in the ‘90s).
She's a boogie-woogie key-stroker whose work evokes the classic New Orleans players like Professor Longhair and Dr. John; her gusty singing voice immediately brings the young Bonnie Raitt to mind.
She also plays a mean accordion, as you'll notice on the great Evangeline album French Quarter Moon (executive-produced by Jimmy the B) and on her solo release I'm That Way, which is a tribute to the late, great Louisiana songwriter Bobby Charles. See bethmckee.com
CHECK IT OUT
Cusses play a free show at 10 p.m. Friday (Nov. 12) at the Jepson Center ... The Live Wire Music Hall's got the great reggae/roots band John Brown's Body, with Savannah's own Domino Effect, on Wednesday (Nov. 10) ... Many favorites are back at the Jinx this week, including Joe Buck, Goddam Gallows, the Back Row Baptists and American Aquarium frontman B.J. Barham in a solo show ...It's Americana weekend at Fiddler's on River Street, as North Carolina's New Familiars check in Friday, with Savannah's Bobby Lee Rodgers making a gurst appearance, followed by a Saturday performance from our very own Train Wrecks ... The amazing Carolina blues band Jubal Kane plays the Mercury Lounge Friday and Saturday ....