Jason Isbell kicked off his residency at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum on Tuesday night (Dec. 5). The first of three intimate performances hosted in the museum’s CMA Theater featured Americana star and Isbell’s wife, Amanda Shires.
Peter Cooper, Senior Director for the museum, was on hand to welcome the sold-out crowd and introduce the duo. “These songs and the way that Jason presents them with his voice, his guitar and his band the 400 Unit have won praise from legends and raised the bar for a new generation of songwriters,” Cooper praised.
Isbell and Shires took the stage, with Isbell on guitar and Shires on fiddle, to perform an acoustic 90-minute set which included hit songs “Different Days,” “24 Frames,” “Tired of Traveling Alone,” Alabama Pines,” Something To Love,” and more.
“I’m certainly honored to be up here…I feel very comfortable in saying that I’m the least qualified person that has held this Artist-in-Residence position…but I’m fine with that. That’s never stopped me before,” a humbled Isbell told the audience.
Between songs the couple shared personal experiences and stories behind their songs and exchanged playful banter with each other. They closed the show with Isbell’s lastest hit with his band the 400 Unit “If We Were Vampires,” which is off the recently Grammy-nominated and CMA Award-nominated album The Nashville Sound. After a standing ovation from the audience, Isbell and Shires returned to the stage for an encore performance of two more songs, “Flagship” and “Cover Me Up.”
“This is quite an honor to be able to do this. I was overwhelmed when they told me about it. I just really still feel like I’m in a dream because all the people who have come before me have been so incredible and so impactful and so important to American music over the years so it really means the world to me. Thank y’all very much,” Isbell concluded.
The Artist-in-Residence series began in 2003. Isbell is the 14th Artist-in-Residence and follows previous artists including Rosanne Cash, Guy Clark, Cowboy Jack Clement, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill, Tom T. Hall, Alan Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Buddy Miller, Kenny Rogers, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs and Connie Smith. Isbell will continue his sold-out residency on Dec. 12 and 19, at 7 p.m., with completely unique performances that reflect his musical values.
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