Best Storytellers: Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
Jason Isbell was arguably the second night's most anticipated act, and as such he was able to treat fans to a mini-set of his own toward the end of the show. Earlier in the day, he spoke with Rolling Stone Country, marveling at Dylan's ability to use songs as weapons, and ended up showing a few prime examples. He began alone on the stage with "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," turning in a quiet, fuzzed-out piece of rock poetry focused on ceaseless change. He switched gears for the next song, bringing the eight-piece Cabin Down Below Band back out for a rocking and rolling rendition of the Traveling Wilburys' "Tweeter and the Monkey Man," Dylan's send-up of Springsteen.
Isbell stuck around for one more timeless protest tune, backing his wife Amanda Shires for her take on "Hurricane," the epic tale of racial injustice and Rubin Carter, the man whose chance to become a world champion boxer was stolen by a false murder rap. With Isbell's tasteful slide guitar and Shire's perspective on the tune – which felt more sympathetic than outraged – it hit home and earned a gigantic standing ovation. "It's funny how his songs seem so timely no matter when you hear them," Isbell told Rolling Stone Country. "You could put ['Hurricane'] in Baltimore and it would make perfect sense this week. He was able to capture really specific moments in time, but due to the fact we haven't really evolved too much, and that he wrote those songs really well, they still apply."