Taking the stage not as a frontman, but as a guitar-playing sideman, Isbell spent the entirety of the performance on stage right, flashing smiles at bandleader Patterson Hood and picking out descending riffs on his guitar. The appreciation was mutual, with a grinning Hood leaving the microphone stand multiple times to stand by Isbell’s side. If there was bad blood between the two songwriters upon Isbell’s exit from the group in 2007, it’s all water under the bridge now, with the video above showcasing a pair of Americana kingpins who have made amends as they continue to make career-defining music.
The Nashville performance marked the kickoff date of the Truckers’ Darkened Flags Winter Tour, launched in support of their politically charged American Band. Released one month before the 2016 presidential election, the album features some of the most potent protest songs of the band’s career, with tracks like “Surrender Under Protest” and “Once They Banned Imagine” taking on new importance under Donald Trump’s polarizing presidency. Meanwhile, last night’s performance marked Jason Isbell’s first public appearance since recording the follow-up to Something More Than Free with longtime producer Dave Cobb.