When Jason Isbell joined the Drive-By Truckers as a 22-year-old, the band had just released Southern Rock Opera, an album rooted in the music and legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Nearly a decade and a half later, Isbell — whose newest solo record, Something More Than Free, hits stores Friday — joins his idols on One More for the Fans, a live Lynyrd Skynyrd album recorded during an all-star concert last November.
Held at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, the marathon show matched the current version of Skynyrd — led by longtime members Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke and Johnny Van Zant — with nearly 20 country singers, rock bands and Americana artists who followed in their wake. Alabama, John Hiatt, Trace Adkins and Blackberry Smoke all paid their respects by ripping into songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s catalog, often with help from a backing band whose members included the McCrary Sisters and guitarist Audley Freed.
Isbell’s song of choice was “I Know a Little,” a guitar workout written by Steve Gaines and released on 1977’s Street Survivors. Along with his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and frontman Ronnie Van Zant, Gaines died in the band’s infamous plane crash just three days after Street Survivors was released. His influence can be felt in Isbell’s performance, though, which mixes some of the evening’s best fretwork with gospel harmonies, brass and piano solos.
“Jason has great respect for the legacy of southern rock,” says Gary Rossington, the last surviving member of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s original lineup, “and we loved that he picked our song ‘I Know A Little’ to perform. His guitar solos were spot on — he’s a great player.”
One More for the Fans will be released on July 24th as a double-disc CD/DVD package.