UPDATE (Sept. 22, 6 p.m.) --
Jason Isbell's concert scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the Raising Cane’s River Center Theater in Baton Rouge has been rescheduled for Jan. 6, 2018 due to a death in Isbell's family.
Isbell's website said all previous tickets purchased will be honored and refunds are available at the point of purchase.
Isbell also rescheduled shows in Dallas, Texas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Mobile Alabama.
Like rocker Bruce Springsteen or novelist John Steinbeck before him, singer-songwriter Jason Isbell tells stories of men and women struggling to make it in America.
On Isbell’s new album with longtime backing band the 400 Unit, "The Nashville Sound," characters are uprooted from the family homeplace, figuring out how to live in the city, or they stay home in coal country and lament the loss of jobs.
However, while writing the new album, Isbell felt he had to reveal more of himself.
“I realized if I was going to try to tell people about my worldview, I’m going to have to give them a reason to believe I’m credible, a reason to listen to me,” Isbell said. “To do that, I think you have to be really honest and personal.”
Isbell and the 400 Unit will perform songs from the new album and others at the Raising Cane's River Center Theater on Tuesday. Punk-folk songwriter Frank Turner and his band, the Sleeping Souls, open the show.
Earlier this month, Isbell discussed the new album, his songwriting process and social media with The Advocate.
Many of your characters’ lives are complicated by addiction. Do your struggles with alcohol and years of sobriety inform those stories?
There are a lot of different ways for people to be affected by addiction. The path that I had was not necessarily the only path. I try not to write every character as though it were me having those same exact issues.
You seem to be in a good place, creating your art but also drawing fans to shows.
For the last three records, I have worked from a very deliberate place where my intention was just to do what I felt like I needed to do, to create songs that I thought needed to exist and that I enjoyed playing every night. What works for me is being very deliberate and spending a lot of time editing, and at the end of the day, just trying to make myself happy.
You’re active on Twitter, showing off your sense of humor and commenting on current events and politics. Occasionally someone tells you to “stick to the music.”
It surprises me that more people don’t understand for me to write the kinds of songs I’m writing, I have to have a particular worldview that has to be shared. That is just part of the process of growing into an adult and a good-quality creative person for me.
If I were to keep my mouth shut, the music wouldn’t be the same at all. So it’s kind of a paradox. It’s like telling somebody like Joni Mitchell or Randy Newman to not talk about the things they believed in. Then you would be missing out on half or two-thirds of their catalog.
You address white male privilege from a white man’s point of view in “White Man’s World.” Why did you feel the need to do that?
I think a lot of people don’t realize they have been given an easier path in life. Different ethnicities, women all across the board, still have a harder time than we do. I don’t think that song is going to change a lot of people’s minds, but if we all focus on talking about the same things at the same time, something might actually get done.
The fourth verse seems to be a personal confession. You sing, “I’m a white man looking in a black man’s eyes, wishing I’d never been one of the guys who pretended not to hear another white man’s joke.” As a white man who grew up in a small Southern town, it tapped into my own feelings of regret.
I think it happens to a lot of people. I think that’s a line that the song really hinges on. If I didn’t give people that look into my own personal experiences and mistakes that I have made, then they wouldn’t have been as directly affected by the message of the song. It’s important to give people pieces of yourself, even if it feels uncomfortable.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit/Frank Foster & The Sleeping Souls
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Raising Cane’s River Center Theater, 275 S. River Road, Baton Rouge