Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played night six of their eight-night Ryman Auditorium residency on Friday and featured Allison Russell opening the show with songs from her solo album Outside Child. During Russell’s set, Isbell popped onstage to be the Tom Petty to Russell’s Stevie Nicks on a cover of the 1981 duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
Russell welcomed the headliner out with a hug and Isbell, with a Telecaster hung over his shoulder, gave a quick thumbs up to Russell’s accompanists. “We’re so lucky. Oh my god!” Russell told the crowd, then joked to Isbell, “thanks so much for opening for yourself with me.” “I hope I can keep up,” Isbell responded.
The song kicked off with Russell’s band laying down the blues-based rhythm, while Isbell chimed in with guitarist Mike Campbell’s lead parts. Standing center stage with her banjo, Russell took Nicks’ lines and Isbell sang Petty’s, then their voices joined together for the pleading chorus harmonies. Coming just days after Petty’s Oct. 20 birthday, the duet also doubled as a tribute to the late rocker.
Isbell kicked off his 2021 Ryman residency on Oct. 15 and will wrap up Oct. 24. Isbell’s wife and bandmate Amanda Shires opened the first night, and guests throughout the run have included Amythyst Kiah, Brittney Spencer, and Mickey Guyton. Joy Oladokun, with whom Isbell recently collaborated on a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” opens Saturday’s show, and Adia Victoria will open the final night on Sunday.