GREENHILL — John McCombs said he can see music students drawing inspiration from the four guitars the Rogers High School's band program was given Friday by Jason Isbell's manager, Traci Thomas, during a stop on the Jason Isbell Fans' Tour of the Shoals.
About 15 fans took the tour that visited sites in the Shoals referenced in the Greenhill native's songs. McCombs, who taught Isbell in band at Rogers, has been the band director since 1986.
"These will be the Jason Isbell collection," McCombs said. "We will never touch them."
He quickly came back, looking at the black, Epiphone Les Paul model, and said "that thing will be played every single day. It will be the coolest thing to say that Jason sent these for us to use."
McCombs said he hopes Rogers students will be inspired by the instruments, which included three electric guitars and an electric bass guitar.
Thomas said she and Isbell wanted to give something back to the school and band director that helped put Isbell on a path to a successful music career.
He also mentioned successful Nashville, Tennessee, country songwriter, Chris Tompkins, who also attended Rogers High School, as did Laura and Lydia Rogers, the Secret Sisters, drummer Jon Davis, Jay Burgess of The Pollies and others.
"I'm blown away," McCombs said. "For anybody to think about where they came from and to give back, I really feel like that is what this is. There are going to be some students that will have some experiences on these instruments they wouldn't have had, and it could be life changing."
McCombs treated the fans to a video presentation that included photos of Isbell as a child and videos of bands he put together while a student. One of the band's featured Tompkins on keyboards.