This week, I am excited to catch Gregory Alan Isakov at the Fox Theater on Friday night (October 21). Of all the artists I’ve seen, Gregory – whether solo and acoustic or with his band of talented musicians – always creates a performance with emotional depths and soaring poetics that leave me rooted in my humanity while simultaneously feeling as though I’ve transcended it (perhaps, it makes me feel the wholeness of this human experience). Of the many amazing things curating in Boulder’s ever evolving scene of new, hip and wonderful artists growing their body of works, Gregory Alan Isakov remains a permanent favorite on my playlists and live shows that I must see. I was one of the lucky ones who saw him perform a benefit barn concert for Lisa Sanchez, a dear friend of Elephant Journal, at Frog Belly Farm earlier this year. It was a special one, and I began to reminisce about the experience to share with ele readers. If you haven’t seen Gregory yet, go. You’ll thank me later. Here are the sweet memories of the February 13, 2011 benefit show.
Frog Belly Farm is an enchanting place in the light of a waxing Lupercalia moon.
As I strode into the barn yard through the muddied remains of the a sunny Colorado February day, I noticed some goats under their stall lights and wondered if any of the ancient rituals of the season’s most notable pastoral festival were slated for later. Before my attention turned to the glow radiating from inside the event house, I gave the sky above the horizon line one last glance before entering the barn with a dear friend who was keeping stride through the early spring lawn in trendy boots.
My spirits were flush at the prospect of the merging of so many of my favorite local things under one big rural roof. The hum of the cameraderie crowned the festivities and schmoozing with the warmth of open hearts celebrating life – and the sacred fragility of it – as we had all come together to support the lifeforce of Lisa Sanchez. One of my most favorite Gregory Alan Isakov songs is Garden, about this very circle of life. It’s those nuances of the greater cycles spinning from earth to stars to the human heart and back again that hold me enrapt when I listen to his music imbued with those sensibilities that could only come from one who pays attention to the cosmic and the microcosmic at once.
In no time, I had bid on my favorite Boulder-based eco-centric body-product-line in the silent auction, taught the guy behind the bar how to pour the potential explosion that is a bottle of Kombucha (“Pop the top fast and pour half in a glass. It needs space to expand…”), and found myself nestled on the stairwell overlooking the carpet draped area filled with strings ready for strumming by Gregory, Jeb and Phillip and a piano waiting to come alive by James Han (of Bela Karoli). After a day spent wondering what the wind would blow in, I found myself double fisting kombucha in a barn brimming with the biggest hearts in Boulder awaiting to hear the most beautiful music in the most intimate of spaces.
Before the music played, the man behind the camera asked if Gregory was a big name. “If he’s not, he should be,” I said. “There’s not one person that I introduce his music to that doesn’t love him instantly.” And that is true of my experience – it was aural bliss at first listen, yet it was more soul stirring than that: I feel more connected to the whole of life, as though all the fragments we piece together in this universe come together and everything in my world rights itself again. Of the 10 shows I’ve been to of his, this private performance in a barn topped the charts in the way that you toss that last hay bale on top of the stack at the end of summer. Heather had been with me to 4 of those 10 shows, all at different venues, and agreed. His music once again shone through soft and wild, like the light filtering in from the heavens.
It seems as if so much aligned to make this event the happening that it was, not only in the practical sense of planning but in the more auspicious ways that I wouldn’t doubt someone had considered when you remember the biodynamic persuasion of Frog Belly Farm. The evening held more than a wisp of magic in the air, love was palpable in the energetic warmth fueled by intentions of health as winter begins to lose its firmness.
Winter may be still, but it is still moving. The lyrical vibrations reverberating the heart strings of all who held that space tuned us to the innate joy of the human experience and the richness that the compost offers for new growth. Such is the seasonal cycle we are in – ready to emerge anew. But, perhaps we need the contrasts to deepen our appreciation for it all.
words mean more at night
like a song
and did you ever notice
the way light means more than it did all day long?
– from Words, on his album This Empty Northern Hemisphere
Photos by Kit Chalberg. For more images from the show, visit www.kitchalberg.com.