Jason Isbell and the 400 unit Chautauqua Amphitheater, Chautauqua, NY Aug. 27, 2021

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

According to musical lore, Muscle Shoals, AL was so influential that it birthed its own sound and is considered where Duane Allman basically invented southern rock. It is fitting that Jason Isbell is a native His country rock/blues hybrid is the essence of the storied area His 2021 tour is a masterclass in diverse textures and expert musicianship

He sets off a pleasant atmosphere with airy guitar of the accessible and contemporary “Overseas” and “It Gets Easier”

The 400 unit plays as essential a role as the Heartbreakers and the E Street band. Sadler Vaden is an ace lead guitarist whose slide work is magnificent and a sonic standout. Drummer Chad Campbell has a big booming Bonham style and  keyboardist Derry Deborja supplied a smooth layer of electric piano throughout. Isbell is labeled as both country and rock. On this night, he leaned toward the latter. Showing diversity, he delivered the tender acoustic ballad about cancer “Elephant” then morphed into guitar god mode on the blistering cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” and the gospel romp “What’ve I Done.” The second half of the show was more ethereal and mystical both sonically and visually.  The stage lights softened overhead and set  a living room vibe for the 2,000 in attendance. A fan shouted, “Thank you for coming.” Isbell quipped at the idyllic setting of Chautauqua institution. “Thank you for having me. This is such a great place: all the houses and gardens. And so many porches, this is the porchiest place in America.”