Jason Isbell rocks Durham’s Casbah and Some Thoughts On A Not So Great Show
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played the Casbah, Durham’s new live music venue on Oct0ber 29th, and set a very high standard for future shows there and throughout the Triangle (Durham-Raleigh-Chapel Hill). Owners Fergus and Jana Bradley opened the 300 person capacity club this fall and recruited Steve Gardner (formerly with Yep Roc Records, Sugar Hill Records and 40 Acres, a house concert organization) to handle booking and hired talented soundman Evan Lamb (Berkeley Cafe).
Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher opened the show and Jason’s four piece version of the 400 Unit took the stage a little after 10 PM. Drawing heavily from his 2009 release “Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit” the show featured a new song “Alabama Pines”? as well as several Drive-By Trucker tunes including “Decoration Day”, “Outfit” and a “Never Gonna Change/Stone Free” medley. With a whiskey bottle shared between band members and Jason’s electric guitar there was no doubt: This was a rock show! Called back for an encore the band closed the show with a faithful cover of Otis Redding’s “The Dock Of The Bay” complete with whistle solo. The lights came on and before midnight I was driving home with my faith in live music restored and just the faintest ringing in my ears.
In stark contrast to the Casbah experience, a few days earlier I attended a weeknight show at ___________, another local music venue. A late start, two opening acts and a short 45 minute set by the headliner ____ ______ _____ (complete with an annoying buzz) left me wondering why I try to support live music (especially on a weeknight). Why do shows routinely start late and run late? Why does the soundman so often think louder is better usually at the expense of the vocals/mix? Why should I care when the band and club owners don’t seem to?
Thanks to Fergus and Jana Bradley, Steve and Evan I’m keeping an eye on the Casbah’s schedule and plan on catching more live music that starts on time with great sound right here in downtown Durham!