Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell

Ever walk into a coffee shop early and hear a song that sounds good, only to be disappointed that you can't figure out who it is before you leave?

Or maybe you're waiting for your favorite act to come onstage and they play some music to warm the crowd up, but again, there's no announcement as to who it is, so you can't figure out who is performing.

Chances are, the music you're hearing is from Brandi Carlile or Jason Isbell, two acts who sort of fly under the popularity radar, yet keep cranking out great song after great song.

It's hard to put either of them into any sort of a music box, though they both sort of lean alt-country.

That's not the only tie that binds them, though.

Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile

They're touring together this summer and come to the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford on Sunday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. Their paths to Meadowbrook are divergent.

Isbell rocketed to stardom when he joined the country-rock band Drive-By Truckers in 2001 at the age of 22. He left the group six years later and moved in a country direction.

He has been a successful solo act for the past decade-plus.


His last three albums have each made the top 30 of the Billboard album chart, the last two of which (2015's "Something More Than Free" and 2017's "The Nashville Sound") have made the top 10. Oh, and he has picked up four Grammy Awards, two each in 2016 and 2018. He's touring with his band, The 400 Unit.

Carlile built her career more organically, constantly playing before live audiences that grew each time she came through a town.

The irony of Carlile's career is that while she's building audiences from city to city, when she heads home, she lives in a farmhouse next door to her bandmates and collaborators, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, aka "The Twins."

In a recent appearance on "The Howard Stern Show," Carlile and The Twins talked about how they choose which covers to perform live. They've covered Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues"), Radiohead ("Creep") and Crosby, Stills and Nash ("Helplessly Hoping"), among others.

As Carlile has built her career, people like Stephen Stills have come to see her perform live, Elton John has called her to congratulate her on her burgeoning success, and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam has joined her onstage to play "Wild Horses."

Whether success comes overnight or as the result of years of pounding the pavement, there's no doubt Carlile and Isbell are enjoying it right now. Don't miss your chance to see how they got here.