Jason Isbell returns to F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre with the 400 Unit on Jan. 17
The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts and the nearby Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre are teaming up once again to present a concert, this time featuring Grammy Award-winning Americana band Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit live at the Kirby Center on Monday, Jan. 17 with Nashville “gothic blues” singer/songwriter Adia Victoria.
The event will mark the first time the venues have partnered to present a show since the Trisha Yearwood concert hosted at the Kirby Center in 2019. Isbell previously played an acoustic show at the Kirby in 2019.
Doors for this concert open at 6 p.m., and the music starts at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets, which are $59, $79, $99, and $125, plus applicable fees, go on sale this Friday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased at the Sundance Vacations Box Office at the F.M. Kirby Center (71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre), online at kirbycenter.org and ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 570-826-1100. A Kirby Member pre-sale begins Thursday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m.
Since the release of his breakthrough solo album “Southeastern” in 2013, Isbell has won four Grammys, nine Americana Music Association Awards, and was selected as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s official 2017 Artist-in-Residence.
In 2020, Isbell released his acclaimed album “Reunions,” which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, Top Rock Albums chart, Americana/Folk Albums chart, and Independent Albums chart. Variety praised the album, saying, “‘Reunions’ is reason to feel glad all over … full of emotional nourishment and moral fiber, dished up as quick narrative tapas,” while the Associated Press declared him “a master of lyrical surprise.” Isbell is also a member of the acclaimed collaborative movement The Highwomen (fronted by fellow members Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires) and wrote “Maybe It’s Time,” featured in the award-winning 2018 movie “A Star Is Born.” He has also joined the star-studded cast of the upcoming Martin Scorsese film “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
Isbell’s eighth studio album and fifth with the 400 Unit, “Georgia Blue,” was recently released on Oct. 15, with all proceeds supporting three nonprofit organizations: Black Voters Matter, Fair Fight, and Georgia Stand-Up.
Created to celebrate Georgia’s role in the 2020 election, the record consists of new versions of 13 songs with ties to the state, including tracks originally recorded by Georgia natives R.E.M., Drivn’ N’ Cryin’, James Brown, Cat Power, Precious Bryant, Otis Redding, The Black Crowes, Indigo Girls, Now It’s Overhead, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Allman Brothers Band, and Vic Chesnutt. In addition to Isbell and the 400 Unit, “Georgia Blue” also features special collaborations with Adia Victoria, Julien Baker, Brandi Carlile, Béla Fleck, Steve Gorman, Peter Levin, Amanda Shires, Brittney Spencer, Chris Thile, Sadler Vaden, and John Paul White.
Already receiving widespread critical attention, The New Yorker praised, “It’s a further articulation of what might be called Isbell’s Southeastern sensibility: a sound and stance that draw less on geographic locale than on cultural affinity – that are fondly, even reverently, rooted in the music of the South, urban and rural alike,” while No Depression declared, “It’d be easy to rattle off each track and sing their praises. It’s easier to note that the baker’s dozen tracks on ‘Georgia Blue,’ in their entirety, are treated with the same meticulous care and attention to detail Isbell provides his own material. … Arguably the most fun listening experience in his discography,” and Holler proclaimed, “It’s a delightfully loose, expertly played and above all sincere 13-track set that checks every box for a project of this kind.”
Reflecting on the project, Isbell shared that “‘Georgia Blue’ is a labor of love. On election day 2020, when I saw that there was a good chance the state of Georgia might go blue, I came up with an idea: to record an album of Georgia-related songs as a thank you to the state and donate the money to a Georgia-based non-profit organization. I will admit my motivations were a bit selfish. For years, I’ve been looking for an excuse to record these songs with my band and some friends. The songs on this album are some of my favorite Georgia-related songs.
“We have roots and blues and R&B, so we enlisted some brilliant artists to help us pull off songs by Precious Bryant, James Brown, and Gladys Knight. My favorite part of the ‘Georgia Blue’ recording process was having the opportunity to work with these very special artists, and I thank them: Amanda Shires, Brittney Spencer, Adia Victoria, Brandi Carlile, Julien Baker, Béla Fleck, Chris Thile, Steve Gorman, Peter Levin, and John Paul White. I hope you enjoy listening to these recordings as much as we enjoyed making them. Keep listening to good music and fighting the good fight.”
Known for their electric live shows, Isbell and the 400 Unit will continue to tour extensively throughout next year, including newly confirmed shows at Knoxville’s Tennessee Theatre (two nights), Louisville’s Palace Theatre (two nights), Columbus’ Palace Theatre, Charlotte’s Ovens Auditorium (two nights), Portland’s Keller Auditorium, and Los Angeles’ Orpheum Theatre, among several others.
Originally from Green Hill, Alabama and now based in Nashville, Isbell is widely renowned as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, possessing an incredible penchant for identifying and articulating some of the deepest, yet simplest, human emotions and turning them into beautiful poetry through song. He sings of the everyday human condition with thoughtful, heartfelt, and sometimes brutal honesty.
Garnering immense critical acclaim throughout his career, NPR Music called him “one of the finest singer/songwriters working at the intersection of folk, country, and rock today,” adding, “His songs have an exquisite, rawboned realism and deeply embedded class-consciousness,” while USA Today proclaimed, “He has developed into one of the great American songwriters. … In a world where most pop songs are lies, Isbell is determined to find truth.”
See NEPA Scene’s photos of Jason Isbell performing with Kevin Morby at the F.M. Kirby Center in 2019 here.