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Sweet Home ... Utah? Muscle Shoals native Jason Isbell to headline Utah Arts Festival

Published May 14, 2013 2:27 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After "The Voice" contestant Ryan Innes performs, Muscle Shoals native Jason Isbell headlines the last night of the Utah Arts Festival.

Isbell, 34, served for six years as one of three strong songwriters in The Drive-By Truckers before going solo more than a half-decade ago. As one of the torchbearers for Southern rock, Isbell's new album, "Southeastern," will be released June 11, and in phone interview Isbell said it is a thematic departure of him.

"The recording process was a lot more personal," he said. "It's important to be honest with your audience." Under the direction of producer David Cobb — whom Isbell recruited after hearing Cobb's recent production work with the late George Jones — Isbell finished the album the same weekend he married singer and violinist Amanda Shires; he wrapped up in the studio on a Thursday at midnight, then on Friday was the rehearsal dinner, Saturday the wedding, and then departed for a honeymoon in Costa Rica on Monday. He admitted that he snuck into the studio for a few touch ups on Sunday.

For Isbell, Bob Dylan is a constant inspiration: on Isbell's left arm, he has a tattoo of a line from Dylan's exquisite "Boots of Spanish Leather": "Just carry yourself back to me unspoiled / From across that lonesome ocean." It might sound strange, but at least he didn't choose a tattoo bearing lyrics from "Positively 4th Street."

When • Sunday, June 23, at 9:45 p.m.Where • Amphitheater Stage, Utah Arts Festival, Library Square & Washington Square (200 East 400 South), Salt Lake CityTickets • $12 for adult, with four-day passes available for $35; children 12 and under free; includes admission to entire Utah Arts Festival; available at gate; pre-Festival tickets will be available until June 14 at reduced rate