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Father John Misty, Jason Isbell, and Jade Bird

Folk/Rockers Play the Bowl June 7

Photo: Paul Wellman Father John Misty plays the Santa Barbara Bowl

Friday night, the Bowl was host to three of the most compelling musicians in folk rock music today — Jade Bird, Jason Isbell, and Father John Misty. Up-and-comer Jade Bird got the evening off to roaring start with her driving “Uh Huh” from her self-titled 2019 debut record. The Bowl is a formidable stage upon which to play, and the 21-year-old Brit did an impressive job of filling the sonic space with her powerhouse vocals and vigorous (acoustic) guitar playing. 

The crowd whooped when Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit took the stage next and launched into “24 Frame,” from his 2015 Grammy Award-winning album Something More than Free. For the remainder of the set, the Alabama-born singer/songwriter pulled primarily from his The Nashville Sound (2017) and Southeastern (2013) records. The songs ranged from socially conscious (“The White Man’s World”) to heart-rending (“Elephant”) to rocking (“Flying Over Water,” “Stockholm”). Arguably one of the most affecting songs in Isbell’s repertoire is “Cover Me Up,” which he wrote for his wife and delivers with such pathos it’s impossible not to be emotionally stirred. As expected, the seasoned performer put on an excellent show.

Father John Misty, the closing act of the night, greeted the audience with “Hangout at the Gallows,” from God’s Favorite Customer (2018), followed directly by several more tunes — including “Date Night,” “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” and “Mr. Tillman” — before addressing the clapping audience with a simple, “Thank you very much.” Although much of Misty’s music is leisurely in tempo, strobe lights were used in excess, making it difficult to look at the stage. Still, Misty’s musical set billowed with songs that lilted (“Nancy from Now On”) and got toes tapping (“Chateau Lobby #4 (in Cfor Two Virgins”).” After a delightful evening, the singer sent the crowd home with “I Love You, Honeybear” lingering in their ears.

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