Until my grandson told me I was not aware of who Jason Isbell was. I have spent some months becoming familiarized and he could be the one I am looking forward to seeing the most. A former member of the Drive By Truckers, he has branched out on his own with some wonderful music in the style of what we now know uniquely as Americana. The lyrics to his songs are poignant and meaningful. Listen for Dress Blues. A musical take on our soldiers and what they endure and sometimes end up. Also, Hurricanes and Hand Grenades is one of my favorites.
What can one say about Billy Joe Shaver that has not already been said. Those Texas Troubadours have got something in their whiskey that gives them a gift if they can handle it. Last year we had Guy Clark who is legendary and, according to Steve Earle, his mentor. Steve counts himself a Texan even though he's from Virginia. In the past we've had such Texans as Robert Earl Keen, Junior Brown and numerous others perform here in Somerset. Billy Joe Shaver, though, has written many songs taken to hit status by others and has been in the business long enough to have known many of the early performers. Shoot, he might be one of the early performers. I can recall him from at least the early 1970s.
I am glad to see Mitch Barrett again. He is a tremendous area performer but, to be truthful, I probably liked him better with Carla Gover as Zoe Speaks. He is a talented musician and has a flair for our Appalachian heritage. I have seen Ben Sollee before and, while he is a talented musician, I just am not sure I am sophisticated enough to appreciate his interpretations on the cello. However, I believe one of the goals of this festival is to educate people in the arts so I will once again present myself for education and perhaps I will have an eureka moment.