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Jason Isbell Drops Out of Headlining Appearance at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Over Vaccination Policy

Isbell's policy of requiring proof of vaccination is not being followed by the festival's organizers

jason isbell bristol rhythm roots reunion drops out covid-19 vaccination policy
Jason Isbell, photo by Ben Kaye
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    Jason Isbell is holding steadfast to his policy of requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination at his shows. On Wednesday night, the Alabama native announced he is dropping out of a headlining appearance at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion over its lack of vaccination policy. The festival is scheduled to take place September 10th-12th.

    In his tweet, Isbell linked to an article published by a local ABC affiliate reporting the festival’s organizers would not be requiring proof of vaccination or negative tests. “After exploring all options, we have concluded that we cannot impose a vaccine mandate or negative test policy at this time without a state mandate,” said the Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) in a statement.

    During an appearance on MSNBC earlier this month, Isbell shared the reasoning behind his vaccination policy. According to the singer-songwriter, most venues and industry professionals would like to require vaccination, but “the problem is, they’re just getting so much pushback from some of the governors of certain states who want to kowtow to their political base and try to make people think that their freedom is being encroached upon.”

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    He added, “I’m all for freedom, but I think if you’re dead, you don’t have any freedoms at all. It’s probably important to stay alive before you start questioning your liberty. It’s life and then it’s liberty and then it’s the pursuit of happiness. Those are in order of priority.”

    On August 10th, Isbell followed suit by canceling a Houston concert after the venue’s owner “was not willing to comply with the band’s updated Health and Safety standards.”

    Isbell’s last album, Reunionswas one of our favorites of 2020. During recent months, he has covered Metallica and Bleachers, while also contributing guest vocals to Adia Victoria’s upcoming LP, A Southern Gothic. Soon, he’ll get a chance to show off his acting chops while appearing in Martin Scorsese’s next movie, Killers of the Flower Moon.

    Stay safe and mask up. Better yet, grab a face covering from Consequence Shop, where we are donating 50% of net proceeds to independent artists impacted by the pandemic.

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