Jason Isbell Defended His Shows’ Vaccine Policy, Arguing ‘If You’re Dead, You Don’t Have Any Freedoms’

As Delta variant case numbers continue to tick upwards in the wake of packed outdoor music festivals (such as Lollapalooza), Jason Isbell is putting his foot down. Last week, he announced that his shows at Austin’s Moody Theatre and Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom would require proof of vaccinations or a negative test within 72 hours. Now, the country singer/songwriter has followed up that all of his upcoming fall dates would require proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test.

Appearing on MSNBC to discuss the decision, he told host Stephanie Ruhle, “People who work at the venues and who work in the music business understand. From everything I’ve heard so far all the response I’ve gotten from people in the business has been positive because they understand that we could go back to not working at all. A lot of these smaller venues, they’re not going to be able to reopen if they go through another round of shutdowns.

“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 their freedom is being encroached upon,” Isbell continued. “I’m all for freedom, but 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.”

Though it sounds like a perfectly reasonable request, and falls in line with what a lot of other artists are requesting for their upcoming dates, Isbell did get into it on Twitter last week with singer/songwriter Marc Broussard, who wrote, “‘The unclean may not attend. The poor may not attend. The ignorant may not attend.’ Who knew Jason was so bourgois? Thought he was a blue collar type of guy. Never met him so I can’t say for sure but yeah, this is some elitist ish here, fella.”

Isbell, though, was not having it, replying, “This one does piss me off, I have to admit. How many kids are in the hospital in Louisiana right now, the place you love so much, @MarcBroussard? How many of our heroes died in the last year and a half? You seriously need to rethink some sh*t.”

Check out Isbell’s interview on MSNBC above. Tickets for his upcoming shows with the 400 Unit are available here.