No electric guitars. No drums. No bass. This may not be a foolproof recipe for success in the music world today, but Gregory Alan Isakov
has found a way to make it work. This folk string quartet comprised of two guitars (or a banjo), a violin, and a cello, has an impressive fan base that sold out the Bowery Ballroom last night. Listening to them is like standing in a summer field at night. It puts you in touch with a simpler moment in time.
The Bowery was packed to the brim. I managed to get to the front row during the opener, and five minutes after he exited the stage, shifting my position became impossible. These weren't just passersby who didn't know who was playing either. They were loyal fans that sang nearly every song, and shouted out requests for his beautiful cover of "In Tall Buildings." The more boisterous fans were constantly being shushed so the others could better appreciate Isakov's soft singing. The band's folk influence is worn on their sleeve. Of all the Bob Dylan songs they could choose from, these guys decided to cover "Mama, You Been On My Mind."
Covering a Dylan song is no easy task, but to pick such an obscure, honest, and heartfelt song is a sign of a true admirer. Since I wasn't around to see Jeff Buckley before he passed I didn't think that I would ever witness a cover of the heartbreaking folk tune. To hear Isakov sing it so delicately and honestly truly touched my soul.
Gregory Alan Isakov - "In Tall Buildings"
Isakov had the whole place in the palm of his hand. His masterful folk oriented songwriting is backed perfectly by his cellist's haunting tones, the violin's shrill scream, and the twangs of his banjo. Time slowed down as he played, and by the time he came back out to sing "Big Black Car" for an encore, I couldn't believe it was already over. I went to hear Isakov's powerful lyricism, but stayed for the prowess of all four musicians.
The Colorado troupe came through Baeble yesterday and sang a few tunes. Check out the wrap-up here
, and be on the lookout for the live session soon.
Scroll through some photos from last night's performance.