Jason Isbell dedicates Truck Drivers ‘Decoration Day’ to Wes Freed in Charlottesville

Freed has designed album covers for many DBT records.

By Andy Kahn Sep 5, 2022 7:47 a.m. PDT

Jason Isbell dedicated a rendition of “Decoration Day,” which he wrote while a member of Drive-By Truckers, to artist Wes Freed, who died Sunday. The performance took place during Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit’s encore of their show last night at the Ting Pavilion in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Freed, who resided in Richmond, Virginia, met Drive-By Truckers in the late 1990s. He created the album cover for their 2001 double LP, Southern rock opera. Freed continued to design DBT album covers, including those for 2003 decoration day and their latest studio album, Welcome 2 Club XIII, released in June. Freed has also worked with

Drive-By Truckers co-founder Patterson Hood described Freed’s relationship with the band in the front of The Art of Wes Freed – Paintings, Posters, Pin-ups and Possumswriting:

“Love at first sight. This is the best description of the relationship between Drive-By Truckers and Wes Freed. It includes the personal relationship we have always had which is intrinsically linked to our artistic and business relationships. We have always considered Wes as part of the band’s interfamily. His beautiful art has adorned our albums, tour posters and stage sets and is one of the main visual elements of our identity. Wes’ art seems to inhabit its own universe, a world where Hank Williams and Patsy Cline still walk among us, where people coexist among big, scary black birds, and there’s an owl in every tree. Every yard has a well and a graveyard. It’s a vision both cinematic and dreamlike, but you get the immediate sense that for Wes, it’s as vivid and real a world as the one most of us live in day to day.

Isbell was a member of DBT between 2001 and 2007. The guitarist opened up about his own relationship with Freed during Sunday’s concert at the Ting Pavilion.

“I lost an old friend this morning and an excellent citizen of the State of Virginia, Wes Freed, of Richmond,” Isbell said at the Charlottesville. “He was one of the first people I met on the road on tour with the Drive-By Truckers many years ago. Over 20 years ago I met Wes Freed. Sleeping on his couch with his dog. I loved him. He was a great man. He was a great artist. He painted all the covers on those Drive-By Truckers records…it’s for Wes Freed.

The subsequent performance of “Decoration Day” followed a cover of Precious Bryant’s “The Truth” which kicked off the encore. Singer-songwriter Adia Victoria, who is on tour with Isbell, once again came to help sing “The Truth.”

Watch both “Decoration Day” and “The Truth” via the audience-captured videos below:

set list

Jason Isbell and Unit 400 at Ting Pavilion

  • 24 frames
  • It gets easier
  • Abroad
  • Fly over water
  • Dream
  • Blue Honeysuckle
  • I hope the high road
  • last of my kind
  • Travel alone
  • To fear
  • only children
  • Something more than free
  • If we were vampires
  • Super 8
  • Cover me
Bis
  • The truth
  • decoration day
  • It is time to move on

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