US folk musician takes a break from Donald Trump in Brighton

Gregory Alan Isakov
Gregory Alan Isakov

American musician Gregory Alan Isakov will headline The Haunt in Brighton on March 25 – a date he’s particularly looking forward to.

“I actually just got back from a Europe/UK tour with my friend Passenger. We spent quite a lot of time in Brighton, near his place in Hove, and I got a great feeling from that place. The sea, the beautiful buildings all reminded me a lot of San Francisco – but with wizards.

“I think the crowds in England that I’ve come across – at least at our little gigs so far – have been amazing and respectful.”

Are you sure you’re not just escaping The Donald?

“Ha, that too, for sure. I feel like we are all in a hard place in time with what’s going on here in the States, but also all over the world. It’s hard to say what the new president will mean for music and culture in the States.

“It’s been awfully heart-breaking watching and reading the news. I find myself constantly needing an update every day, which is a new feeling for me. I have drawn a lot of comfort in the brave people around me that have stood up and shown up in protest all over the country, and I have felt so grateful for the simple freedom of speech, which a lot of countries in the world don’t have.

“I will say that some of the best music in American history has been made during hard presidencies. It’s something I’ve noticed, but I would easily take (rubbish) songs if I could trade out the president right now. Music for me has sort of always been something sacred. I never thought I would get to do it full time like I am now. I was a horticulture major in school and ran a small gardening company for a while.

“Music was always something I did before work, when I got home, like eating dinner or something—just a necessary part of my day. I am constantly after a small line or piece of music. It’s always taking up space in me. Whether I’m at home or on tour, I’m always working out something for a song. It’s a good practice of noticing the world, and connecting to my experience, as well as the human experience. His most recent album remains particularly important.

“The record with the Colorado Symphony was extremely special for me. That collaboration was a complete dream come true. So many hands made that possible, from the arrangements, the scores, the mixing, all of it.

“I’ve been working on a new record as well, and wasn’t planning on releasing the symphony album, but I wanted to take a minute and honour that collaboration with something tangible.

“I love Leonard Cohen. I probably listen to too much of him, if that’s even possible. I love writers like Steinbeck, Billy Collins, Ted Kooser.”

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