Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, with Sky Smeed and Robby Vee
Jason Isbell played the George Harrison role in Drive-By Truckers for the early and middle '00s: a hungry young songwriter fighting for album space alongside the Lennon-McCartney duo of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. He eventually left the band and pursued a solo career, but not before writing a few of the Truckers' most memorable album tracks: "Outfit," "Goddamn Lonely Love," "Danko/Manuel." His solo material — a mishmash of Southern folk, rock and blues — has been hit-or-miss so far, but I have this feeling that one of these days, he's going to drop a classic on us.
Friday, September 16, at Knuckleheads (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
As Expassionates, local musicians Scott Easterday, Marco Pasolini, Richard Burgess and Sam Platt have been playing twangy, jazz-inflected Americana around town for about a decade or so. But it looks as though that's coming to an end. "We can't say what the future will hold, but for now it's farewell," the band wrote on its Facebook invitation to this show. Bummer, but at least the band's giving us one more night.
7 p.m. early show, Saturday, September 17, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Fruit Bats, with Vetiver
The peaceful, easy feeling of 1970s folk-rock is alive and kicking (or, perhaps, gently rocking back and forth) on this Jackpot bill. Fruit Bats go for a sunny, tender folk vibe, while Vetiver has lately been honing in on American Beauty-era Grateful Dead. If you like one of these bands, chances are you'll like the other.
Tuesday, September 20, at the Jackpot Music Hall (943 Massachusetts, 785-832-1085)
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, with Hearts of Darkness
I confess to being unfamiliar with Tulsa's Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey prior to receiving a press release about its show at Crosstown, but after reviewing the facts, I feel comfortable recommending this jazz-fusion act. KC musician Jeff Harshbarger is the bassist. And Snuff Jazz's Mark Southerland played saxophone on its new release, The Race Riot Suite, a sort of concept album about the Tulsa race riots of 1921 that the band will perform in its entirety at this show.
Friday, September 16, at Crosstown Station (1522 McGee, 816-471-1522)
Foo Fighters, with Rise Against and Mariachi el Bronx
It's been more than a decade since Foo Fighters did anything remotely interesting, a fact I take no delight in communicating. I had high hopes for the band after 1999's underrated, melodic, ambitious-within-the-context-of-post-grunge There Is Nothing Left to Lose, but frontman Dave Grohl appears to have reached the cynical (and correct) conclusion that Foo Fighters would make more money and win more Grammys if the band just kept playing the same brand of high-octane hard rock over and over and over. Which would actually be fine if he were still writing fresh hooks. But those seem to have disappeared as well.
Friday, September 16, at Sprint Center (1407 Grand, 816-949-7000)
Steve Earle added another line to his Renaissance Man résumé earlier this year when he published his first novel, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive. He released an album of the same name in conjunction with it. And to support it, he's stopping by the Uptown with a band he calls the Dukes and Duchesses, which includes his wife, Allison Moorer, a talented singer-songwriter in her own right. Whether the new record is any good almost seems like an afterthought. Earle is an entertaining performer with a deep catalog of Texas roots-rock songs and, at 56 years old, already a sort of national treasure.
Wednesday, September 21, at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway, 816-753-8665)