by Stacey Lovett
As the dust settled from Luck Reunion the night before, Jason Isbell returned to the Spicewood, Texas stage alongside his band The 400 Unit to kick off the Live at Luck intimate concert series with legend Willie Nelson hosting.
Rising star Danielle Ponder opened the evening with her soulful anthems about how to live with compassion, using the stage as a platform to nurture empathy, justice, and understanding of the human condition. As a former public defender she’s turned her voice to singing about bold truths that speak to us all. She made her own bold, yet guided, move in a time where connection and insight couldn’t be more important to impart; what better stage than this venue to be among the trailblazers of open thought to share her songs and fresh voice.
Thematic freedom from injustice of self and society and the resulting vulnerability that arises in music connects us in ways and levels we don’t otherwise attain or often have the ability to tap into. This musical paring on the bill (Isbell & Ponder) could not have been more perfect to stir up a heart-centered evening of emotive power.
Jason Isbell is an artist who has shared his realness and growth through his lyrics over the years with stories of redemption and an intimate portrait of life and love. He commented – ‘Willie named it (Luck) right’ – as everyone on the ranch there for this experience was truly lucky to be there and share it. This gratitude hung heavy in the air throughout the entire week surrounding the music festival as this opportunity lived on once again and now in a more abundant lens of love.
Isbell played a mix of his own tunes during his set along with several from his most recent album Georgia Blue – a compilation charity album – his spin on a handful of classic tunes by the Peach state’s notable artists. As the night ripened, so did the emotion as his prominent hit “Cover Me Up” left not a dry eye in the crowd. Somber truths sang from his guitar as he shared stories of their origins as well as newfound appreciation for the life surrounding it all, reminding us the truth behind his wisdom penned that we live the life we choose and redemption is born out of love.
The depth of his 2-hour set was not only entertaining but a beautiful reminder of how music connects us all in times like these. And in the spaces in between, every bit of that unity could be felt through the crowd as they shared yet another truly special experience – far beyond a production – brought by Luck Presents and Willie Nelson’s Luck Family.