Jason Isbell performs at the To Nashville, With Love Benefit Concert at Marathon Music Works on Monday, March 9, 2020, in Nashville, TN. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Jason Isbell, a Grammy-winning Americana/Roots artist, has canceled his Oct. 8 concert at the city-owned Brandon Amphitheater in Rankin County.

Isbell was one of the first of what is now a growing number of national musical acts to require a COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative coronavirus test for concert attendees.

On Friday afternoon, Southeastern Records, the label founded by Isbell, said on social media that Isbell and his band, The 400 Unit, would no longer be performing in Brandon.

“Unfortunately, the powers that be were not willing to comply with the band’s updated health and safety standards,” the label said on social media.

State Rep. Fred Shanks, R-Brandon, who also is the general manager for the Brandon Amphitheater, said earlier this week that the Brandon board of aldermen was working “with his people” to try to reach an agreement. Shanks could not be reached for comment Friday.

As COVID-19 cases soar across the country, Isbell has stated that his requirement of a vaccine or negative COVID-19 test within the past 48 hours to attend his concerts was initiated in an attempt to ensure public safety, and to try to prevent the shutdown of live music that occurred earlier in the pandemic before vaccines were available.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the audience or to the crews at the venues or to my crew to put people in a situation where they’re possibly risking their lives or taking the virus home to their kids, or they go to school and give it to other kids,” Isbell said in a lengthy interview with Rolling Stone. “It just didn’t feel right. I pride myself, and I have always prided myself, on being successful at a job where nobody gets hurt.”

He added, “That little thing that I love the most about the job that I have is the fact that it spreads something positive. I want to protect that. I don’t want to spread positive tests. I want to spread positive vibes.”

Isbell already has scheduled a concert for Oct. 8 at the Graceland Soundstage in Memphis to replace the Brandon show.

It is not clear whether the COVID-19 surge will impact any other shows in Brandon. Mississippi, per capita, currently has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, and venues in the state are following Isbell’s lead.

Duling Hall, located in the Fondren area of Jackson, has announced people will need a vaccination or a proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past 48 hours to attend any of the multiple concerts scheduled for the venue starting Aug. 30.

“Implementing this measure will allow musicians to earn a living, our staff to be employed and live music to have a place in society again,” a Duling Hall social media statement said.

The Lyric Theater in Oxford has instituted the same guidelines for its shows.



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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.