Michael Jason Isbell is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist from Alabama, best known for his solo career and as a former member of the Drive-By Truckers.
Michael Jason Isbell is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist from Alabama, best known for his solo career and as a former member of the Drive-By Truckers. David McClister

Two time Grammy Award winner Jason Isbell at Bluesfest

STILL holding on to the positive feeling of winning two Grammy Awards last month, Jason Isbell is coming to Bluesfest as a consolidated, celebrated solo artist.

Q: It's a very exciting and rewarding time for you, Jason: two Grammys, one night. How does that feel?

A: It feels good. It's always nice to be recognised for your work, though I don't think these sorts of accolades change who I am or the job I have to do.

Q: You mentioned in your acceptance speech at the Grammys that you turned your life around a few years ago. Would it be a fair comment that your wife, artist Amanda Shires, played a major role in that?

A: Indeed she did. Amanda was very supportive of my decision to get sober. She went to great lengths to make sure I was able to get help.

Q: What part did music play in you committing to these changes?

A: I didn't really consider my work too much while I was in the process of getting sober. If you know anything about addiction recovery, you know that everything in your life has the potential to distract you from cleaning up. Even music became an excuse for me to keep drinking. That's one reason why it was so important that I stop.

Q: Is your latest album, Something More Than Free, different from your previous albums in music and style?

A: This record could be described as a bit more hopeful than the work I have done in the past.

I think each record should be different, or else why keep making them?

I view a record as a document.

When we made Something More Than Free, I was a happier person than I had been in the past. This makes the record a bit brighter, a bit more optimistic. Musically, there's a bit more going on on this album than on Southeastern, but we still tried to serve the song first and foremost. That's the ultimate goal of arrangement and production in the type of work we do.

Q: What can Bluesfest audiences expect from your show?

Audiences are sometimes surprised that our show is a rock show.

I may be classified as a singer-songwriter, but the shows get loud. I still take a lot of pride in the fact that I'm in a rock and roll band.

  • Monday, March 28, at the Jambalaya Stage from 9.30pm.


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