Gregory Alan Isakov & Josh Ritter @ Waterfront Park, Burlington, VT

On July 28, folk musician Gregory Alan Isakov played for a packed audience at Burlington’s Waterfront Park. The show was part of a series of summer concerts presented by Higher Ground and Cabot Creamery.

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter

Opener Josh Ritter, a folk legend in his own right, had the crowd dancing and singing along, especially to “Getting Ready to Get Down” and “Miles Away.” It seemed like many audience members were just as excited to see Ritter as Isakov, making the opening set a real pleasure to witness.


Isakov opened with fan favorite “San Luis,” featuring gentle strings and soaring vocals. Soft-spoken and thoughtful during the set, most of Isakov’s dialogue with the crowd was dedicated to expressing his gratitude to be there.

Before playing “Dark Dark Dark,” Isakov told the crowd that it may be his happiest song – so it was “good to get it out of the way.” Audience members laughed along as the first chords rang out.

Isakov and his band – Steve Varney, Jeb Bows, Max Barcelow, John Grigsby, and Danny Black – are touring in advance of Isakov’s August 18 release Appaloosa Bones. The setlist featured newly released songs off of that album, including the titular “Appaloosa Bones,” “The Fall,” and “Before The Sun.” Isakov also performed songs from his earlier albums, including “The Stable Song,” “Dandelion Wine,” “Big Black Car,” and “Master & a Hound.”

“It’s so damn beautiful out here,” Isakov remarked at one point. The moon over the water matched the tone of Isakov’s music well, curating a peaceful environment. About half the crowd stood and swayed along, while the other half brought lawn chairs to enjoy the music while relaxing.

For their encore, Isakov and his band gathered around one microphone to sing “Saint Valentine” and “All Shades of Blue.” Each band member stepped forward, grinning, to perform a short solo on their instrument. The evening was a perfect reminder of the joy of live music, for both audience and performer.

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