JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT, NEWPARK AMPHITHEATER (PARK CITY), Thursday, 6 p.m., Free

The fact that Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit is playing a free show at EXACTLY the same time as the University of Utah is playing its first home football game of the season is one of those things that would seem to indicate it doesn’t pay to be both a music geek AND a sports nerd. Isbell released one of my favorite albums of 2011 with Here We Rest, just the latest in a long line of releases that prove Isbell is one of the best American songwriters working today. The fact that he’s only 33 years old makes future-me happy to know I’ll have Isbell to enjoy for years to come–definitely long enough that I won’t feel it necessary to thrown in the obligatory “and he was a Drive-By Trucker, dammit!” reference. As the season-closer of Newpark Amphitheater’s free concert series, Isbell is the best show of the week.

THE LOWER LIGHTS, BRIGHAM YOUNG HISTORIC PARK, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Free

Listening and watching The Lower Lights perform is easily one of my favorite local music experiences. And chances to do just that are kind of rare–the gospel-singin’ collective doesn’t get the chance to gather its players and singers together very often, so each show seems like a special treat. This summer, the group released its second Hymn Revival set, and you can expect a heavy dose of it at this free show in downtown SLC.

THE ROSE EXPOSED, ROSE WAGNER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Free

This is one of the best ideas I’ve heard of in local arts in quite a while, and a fine way to introduce one of the most treasured venues in Salt Lake City to people who perhaps have never visited the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. A bunch of the group that call the Rose home are joining to offer day full of free performances and classes, with the day capped off by an hour-long variety show of the best of the best for just $10. Those shows are at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., but before that you can spend the day learning about and seeing performances by the likes of the Plan-B Theatre Company, Pygmalion Theatre Company, Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and SB Dance, as well as films from SpyHop Productions. Hit the link above to check out the full schedule–new programs start on the hour, every hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dan Nailen has written about music, arts and culture in and around Salt Lake City for Salt Lake magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake City Weekly since 1998. He's currently a contributor to saltlakemagazine.com, and you can find more of his work at SLCene.com