I had no idea who Jason Isbell was beforehand as I've never really followed his previous band, the Drive-By Truckers. He joined them in 2001, and apparently had a big hand in their creative output over the last five or six years, which as far as I can tell has been some of their most successful stretch as a band. Isbell parted ways with the Drive-By Truckers this year, releasing a well-received solo album and going on tour with a few friends who call themselves Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Thanks to Hidden Track I came across a recording of their set at the Mohawk, which also led to finding a recording of Cracker's set as well. The Isbell mp3s are down below this great review from Blog Critics, and you can hear Cracker at the archive.
"The boys from Muscle Shoals started the evening with “Brand New Kind of Actress,” also the opener from Isbell’s debut solo album Sirens In The Ditch. The band was solid, and the pure power that Jason and co-guitarist Browan Lollar unleashed during the solo was a full-on assault. If there were any doubts about the 400 Unit’s capabilities, they were quickly erased.
To display his virtuosity, Jason moved to the piano for “Chicago Promenade,” a slower-tempo ballad from the new album. As he sang and tickled the keys, his raspy, smoker’s voice resembled a southern version of Tom Waits. “Are ya’ll having a good time?,” he asked as he reclaimed his axe and took a swig of beer. The audience cheered with a resounding yes, and they were rewarded with more hammering drums, deep bass grooves, southern-style vocal harmonies, and blistering guitar interplay.
Jason Isbell and the members of the 400 Unit have an evident chemistry and camaraderie, which surely lends a great deal to the vibe on stage. They seem to be having fun while also remaining committed to their musicianship, something that is decidedly more difficult than it looks."
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Live at the Mohawk