i’ll take two of what you’re having

I am officially finished road-tripping. At least for a while. I’m also officially finished spending money. At least for a few months. My car and my checking account are making funny noises–the latter in particular, considering my student loan grace period ended last week and my first payment is due, like, now. Oh grad school, I loved you while you lasted.

Grandma’s funeral went about as well as expected. Reading the eulogy was not exactly fun, but at least I made a few people laugh, even if I had to do it at the expense of my uncle’s least-favorite childhood memory. But, he recently declared that he is a “new man”, so he won’t be holding that against me.

Most of my week home was spent digging around through Libby’s wardrobe. She is getting rid of about half of her clothes, for various reasons, and since we’re relatively the same size-ish and with definitely similar styles, she allowed me to take my pick. Now, Libby’s wardrobe is approximately the size of about three of the average person’s wardrobe, so even though I sent about half of my own wardrobe to Goodwill last week, I basically replaced all I lost, and then some.

Saturday night, after about an hour of me trying on more of her clothes and after several hours of trying to figure out what we were going to do, I made a joke about going to Daniel’s Pub. When I said something to the effect of, “It’s basically right behind Bogarts,” Libby kind of perked up and said, “We should definitely see if anyone is playing tonight.” I don’t even know if she checked their Web site, but she ended up on Southgate House and turned her laptop to me with this little impish grin and said, “I think this is someone that you really like.”

So even though the show was scheduled to start at 9:00 and it was already well near 10:00, we ended up in short dresses and pretty flats, with cameras in our bags, and walked through the basement doors about five minutes before Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit took the stage, both of us very impressed with our timing.

To say that it was a sea of plaid and flannel might be exaggerating, but I think Libby counted at least seven or eight people wearing those materials in the relatively sparse crowd. Despite the small number of attendees, I was again shocked (and possibly appalled) by the prevalence of Pabst Blue Ribbon. (I am either missing the social and cultural relevance of said beverage, or cheap beer just does not amuse me.)

The last time I saw Jason Isbell, last January at the 9:30 Club in DC, he was swigging Jack straight from the bottle and pretty effectively slurring all of his songs, but I was downing Jack and Cokes like candy, so I mostly didn’t notice. Last night, he was casual and cool, and looked like the stage was his natural environment, which, for the once-and-former front-man of the Drive-By Truckers, is probably true. He looked old, but in a handsome way, and totally sure of himself. He didn’t even bother dressing up or trying to appease his fans by acting less than his age. (Though, that didn’t particularly matter, because, to my surprise, the majority of the crowd was made up of, well, middle-aged men.) He was there to play music, to play it well, and he did both spectacularly.

(Blogger’s note: I am full of fail. As such, certain aspects of the following paragraph have been edited from the original to reflect factual correctness.) Katrina and I have always had this on-going debate about the Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell’s merits during and post-DBT. I always lean towards the Isbell-DBTs and Katrina always takes Mike Cooley’s side. As far as Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit go, I’ll concede that the music is not so much Southern-whiskey-drinking-rock-‘n’-roll anymore and there is more than a little bit of cliched romance thrown in, but I enjoy him solo, too. And I have to agree with Katrina’s DP, Patrick, when he says that she’s just never given him a proper chance. (But, to be fair, I am still kicking myself for not seeing Cooley’s Drive-By Truckers back in October, when I had the chance to see them both in Louisville and in Nashville, and I turned it down to go to a Halloween party instead. Especially since they were playing with my now-second-favorite-band, The Hold Steady.)

Anyway, I had a really splendid time at the gig last night, and I think Libby did, too, even if she didn’t know much, if any, of the music. He played quite a bit of new stuff, which I hadn’t had a chance to listen to, so I was unfamiliar with some of his set. He snuck in “Goddamn Lonely Love” and “Outfit”, both of which have semi-permanent homes in my ever-changing list of favorite songs. They covered the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”, with Browan, the cute, young, and unfortunately, recently married guitarist, taking the lead vocals. And if I hadn’t been so distracted by the array of really terrible, drunken dancing going on in front of and next to us, I probably would have cried when they played “Chicago Promenade”.

He played a much longer set than I was anticipating, but it was hard to feel tired watching him. Say what you want about his solo stuff veering off-course, Jason Isbell is an incredibly talented musician. It was just a lot of fun watching him play. He exudes an ease and confidence on the guitar that you don’t often see, and I hate the expression, but it really did seem as if the guitar was just an extension of his body.

The encore was absolutely incredible, especially since they kicked it off by bringing the opening act, Deer Tick, on stage to perform a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” with them. The show ended with an extended jam session between Jason and Browan. They waved their thanks and headed off the stage, and Libby and I headed to Bar Louie for an entirely too expensive night cap and a Spring-forward time change.

I suspect 2009 is going to kick 2008’s ass in the gig department, and it’s only March. You would think that after two Marah shows and a Jason Isbell gig within three weeks that I’d be finished for a while, but alas, I am not. This Sunday, I have Ryan Adams and the Cardinals at the War Memorial to look forward to. And then there’s the possibility that Libby and I will be seeing Death Cab in May for her birthday. And I’m really hoping The Ferla and I can find something in September.

It was recently brought to my attention that I Tweet too much (and here, I thought that was the point!), so I’ve resolved to limit myself to one a day, barring extenuating circumstances. (This, I hope, will greatly improve my productivity at work. And it’s probably a good thing I’m not able to use Twitter on my phone.) And Libby leant me all seven seasons of The West Wing, too, which are sure to keep me occupied for months on end. So don’t look for me on the internets too much in the coming weeks.

Anyway, now I’m back in Nashville, with significantly more clothes than I left with, and a lot of unpacking to do.


3 Responses to “i’ll take two of what you’re having”

  1. 1 yessaidyes

    Lovely blog, but a few problems. Clearly, Cooley is the greatest songwriter. Here are my reasons in no particular order: 1. Love Like This 2. Zip City 3. Gravity’s Gone 4. Women Without Whiskey 5. 3 Dimes Down 6. Self-Destructive Zones 7. Carl Perkins Cadillac 8. Bob 9. Lisa’s Birthday 10. Pin hits the Shell 11. Checkout time in Vegas 12. A Ghost to Most 13. Space City 14. Marry Me 15. Sounds Better in the Song 16. Loaded Gun in the Closet 17. Where the Devil Don’t Stay 18. Cottonseed 19. Daddy’s Cup 20. 72 (This Highway’s mean) 21. Guitar Man’s Upstairs 22. Shut up and get on the plane 23. Uncle Frank 24. One of these Days 25. Panties in Your Purse

    If you listen to this playlist and still want to argue- clearly we aren’t hearing the same thing.

    I’ll concede that Isbell’s Goddamn Lonely Love is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, but if he put out more things like Danko/Manuel instead of the cliche things you have referred to in this post and conversations with Pch- I think I would totally be on board.

    Cooley and Hood clearly have a long, long history together, and while I love DBT and all that are included in this group- Cooley still holds that special place in my heart and I simply can’t share it with any other trucker or ex-trucker.

    I’m glad you had fun seeing Jason and the boys- they covered Neutral Milk Hotel last time I saw them and it was amazing.

    Still listen to my 25 reasons and talk to me then. :) Not that I have strong opinions about this or anything…

  2. 2 Parick

    Cooley and Patterson started DBT 3 albums before Jason ever joined. Patterson has always clearly been the frontman. Jason was Johnny-come-lately and Johnny-leave-early. Patterson and Cooley wrote Tornadoes when Jason was a teenager. :)

    Sorry buddy, but this entry is total FAIL.

  3. I’m watching this with interest, as I don’t have much DBT and am curious to know where to start!

    Also, if YOU Tweet too much I don’t know what that says for me, and I’m nothing like the worst I know…

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