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Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit's Gear Stolen In SF, Drummer Quits


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Jason Isbell Instore CANCELLED

It's pretty sad news, but we've had to cancel the in-store with Jason Isbell due to a break in to one of his vans in San Francisco. The thieves made off with 2 guitars and a full drum kit. Fortunately, the show will still go on tonight at Harlow's but there just wasn't enough time in dealing with the police and the insurance people to pull off the in-store that was supposed to happen at 4pm. Sorry to any fans that were planning to come down here today, I know that I'm really bummed.

From 400 Unit drummer Ryan Tillery's MySpace page:

As of today, I am taking a considerable leave of absence from the touring world. Over the course of the past few years, I've done my best to remain reasonable and realistic about the sacrifices that had to be made in the best interest of my career as a musician, and I've always been keenly aware of the rigors of the road. It's not an easy life, by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes one has to sacrifice things (home life, for example) in order to help secure a bit of financial stability and advance one's life forward. You do what you have to do, in the hopes of things one day getting easier, and you always hope things will pay off somehow... maybe not in any spectacular monetary way, but just in terms of building a future, and being able to go to bed at night without worrying about your car being repossessed while you sleep. I've tried to sacrifice, and hoped it wasn't in vain. I've slept in a van more times than I can remember, and I've tried my best to give 120 percent on every show I've played. I have more outstanding debts than I can even stand to count, and at 31 (almost 32) I still have nothing to show for any of it. My family... my mother, my father, my girlfriend .... they all politely tolerate me being perpetually absent in my own life. They understand why I do what I do. I love playing, and always have, and I've spent the better part of my life learning how to do what I do better than I did it before, and I've always taken pride in that. They understand this... which is why they continually bail me out of debt and cover my ass when my choices leave me with nothing. I'm a grown man, and it's time to cut losses and start a life as a functional adult. I have no regrets about gambling so fervently on something that ultimately shows no potential of paying off (I'm talking about my career course over the past few years, not Jason or the 400 Unit - that's a great band with my favorite songwriter at the helm), but I'm not going to keep sitting at the table after I've lost my ass. I fold... it's time for a different game. And every turn gives me a different sign that this is the right choice to make. The coup de gras presented itself this morning, when I arrived at the van to find it completely empty of any of gear.... we'd been broken into. My kit is gone... they didn't even leave my stick bag. Now, all I own is what I have sitting here with me: two bags of clothes, a backpack, and this laptop. I've lost everything in the course of waiting on my work to reciprocate at least some fraction of what I've put into it (I don't mean the music, of course; I'm talking about the business end of things... playing the shows is all I've really gotten out of it), and today is the day. It's wakeup time. So, I must offer apologies to those whom I leave behind, as I've certainly never had any intentions of things turning out like this, but I'm going home to save what's left of my life. Hang in there. Thank you for every second onstage; I wouldn't trade it for anything. I thank God for my family, and for Christy, and for the chance to have played for all of you out there... I'll miss that stage, and all the moments that happen on it.

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I've walked many a mile in that man's shoes....reading that makes me sad, because he seems to have reached the breaking point at a younger age than I did, and I hope he doesn't regret this later.

The reality is, it makes good sense, and you can still produce you're art without traveling full time.

Pity about the theft of his drums though... I do wish him luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...


Jason Isbell in the driver’s seat

After splitting with wife and band, ex-Trucker Isbell steers career toward ‘Ditch’

By Jed Gottlieb / Music

When love ends, the fallout is never pretty. But as tough as you’ve had it, Alabama singer-guitarist Jason Isbell probably had it worse.

Last year, Isbell’s marriage ended at the same time he was leaving his band, the Drive-By Truckers. What’s worse is that Isbell was married to Truckers’ bassist Shonna Tucker. Thankfully Isbell, who plays Wednesday at the Paradise, had something to fall back on: a nearly finished solo album he’d spent years writing and recording (with many of the Truckers, including Tucker, helping out).

Isbell has kept the bad blood to a minimum and doesn’t say much about the splits with a woman and a band he spent the better part of a decade with.

“I’m not interested in working with them and I don’t think they’re interested in working with me, so it’s just not something either one of us want to revisit,” he said with a cool, Southern drawl.

Instead, he’s turned his attention to other lost loves.

Isbell’s solo debut, “Sirens of the Ditch,” is full of heartbreakers that bring to mind the most tragic and touching Trucker tunes. But one song, “Dress Blues,” a poignant elegy to a U.S. Marine killed in the Iraq War, has a more brutal gravity than the rest. Like “Outfit,” his masterful hymn to his father and growing up poor in the South, Isbell’s “Dress Blues” puts to use the smart, specific, Steinbeck-like details that etch a deep melancholy.

“It’s pretty much a true story,” Isbell said of the song. “It’s about somebody I went to high school with named Matthew Conley and the fallout in that community when he didn’t come back from the war.

“It was really, really technically easy to write that song,” he continued. “It all came out in 20, 30 minutes at the most. There wasn’t a whole lot of planning involved. Sometimes that’s the way the best ones come out. You just have to hang on as they come.”

Like any break between loves or band mates - or both in his case - Isbell must believe it was for the best. He has to convince himself that he’s a better person and a better artist now. “Sirens of the Ditch” and the brilliant bitter pill of “Dress Blues” should reassure Isbell he made the right move.

“A lot of the things the Truckers were doing were never my ideas,” he said. “I just came in and filled a role, so when it was time for me to do my own album, I did things differently. I write a lot and I feel like I do a pretty good job with it, and I have a pretty good band. So hopefully this will work out just fine.”

It’s good to see he’s hopeful after the fallout. The heartbreak of “Sirens” makes for great art, but it can’t be good on the artist’s psyche.

“I’m already writing songs for the next record,” Isbell said. “One thing I can say is that they’re rock songs. The next album won’t be so slow. It’s a rock record.”

Jason Isbell, with Will Hoge and Dawn Landes, at the Paradise, Wednesday. Tickets: $15; 617-562-8800, thedise.com.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The story of Matthew Conley, the inspiration behind Jason Isbell's Dress Blues. There's video of the song at the link below.

Bedtime Stories for Catherine

Matthew Conley didn't make it back from Iraq,

but his story lives on with the family he left behind

By Wright Thompson


GREENHILL, Ala. -- Every night, Nicole Conley tells her daughter a bedtime story about Matthew. Catherine's 2 years old now, and she gets scared before she goes to sleep.

Not long ago, after Nicole had told that night's story, Catherine started to cry.

Nicole asked what was the matter.

"I want Daddy!"

"Sweetie, it's time to go to sleep."

"No, Mommy, no! I want more Daddy!"

Now Nicole was crying, too.

"You want me to tell you another story about Daddy?"

Catherine said yes.

Which one should she tell?

Maybe the one about Matthew running into the fire extinguisher on spring break or him freaking out about horseradish sauce on a steak. Should she tell about the skinny high school quarterback or about the muscled Marine?

It could be just a snapshot. Their first Valentine's Day, as she watched a nervous Matthew Conley walk past the big bay windows toward the front door, carrying two orange roses. Nicole loves orange. Or the time Matthew covered their home in rose petals for her birthday, and cooked her chicken parm.

Sometimes she laughs when she tells a story. Sometimes she cries. But night after night, she talks in a voice soft and sweet, telling a little girl about the daddy she never met.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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  • 3 weeks later...


We're proud to announce that our live EP recorded at Twist & Shout on 11.16.07 will be available April 15, 2008 with the following track listing:

1. Grown

2. Goddamn Lonely Love

3. Hurricanes and Hand Grenades

4. Danko/Manuel

5. Outfit

6. Into The Mystic

For a preview of the album, check out our MySpace page.

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