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The summer usually means the farm not a festival for this singer-songwriter

Gregory Alan Isakov will be headlining the Festival at Sandpoint on Friday night.  (Rebecca Caridad)
Gregory Alan Isakov will be headlining the Festival at Sandpoint on Friday night. (Rebecca Caridad)

Gregory Alan Isakov is accustomed to being in a middle of a field during the summer. However, the singer-songwriter is typically not performing at a festival like he will be Friday in Sandpoint.

The South African native, who grew up in Philadelphia, who was weaned on the sounds of Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen, is typically tilling the land on his farm in Boulder, Colorado, at this time of year.

“I’m rarely on the road during the summer,” Isakov said by phone from Sacramento. “But everything is so messed up with the pandemic that I’m out performing”

The West Chester University alum has a horticulture degree and manages a farm that produces a variety of vegetables, when he’s not making music.

“I love music but I’m dedicated to the farm since I’m first and foremost a grower,” Isakov said.

Isakov, 45, like Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices, recorded informally in his basement. When the tapes leaked, there was interest by fans and the industry. He self-released “Rust Colored Stones” in 2003 and it was embraced by music fans.

“People were into what I was doing and it gave me an opportunity to become a musician,” Isakov said. “It’s exciting for me since I get to do two things that I love.”

Isakov has evolved considerably as a recording artist. His early albums such as 2007’s “That Sea, The Gambler” and 2009’s “This Empty Northern Hemisphere” are raw and unpolished.

“It’s who I was then,” Isakov said.

However, his most recent album, 2019’s latest, “Evening Machines,” is lush. “That all has to do with the evolution of my skills in the studio,” Isakov said. “I like how the latest album is atmospheric. It shows that I’ve grown. I really like how the album turned out.”

Isakov isn’t the only one impressed with his latest. “Evening Machines” was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2019.

Expect Isakov to perform a number of tunes from “Evening Machines” when he performs at the Festival at Sandpoint.

Even though Isakov has never performed at the festival, he is familiar with Sandpoint. “I love it there,” Isakov said. “Sandpoint is one of my favorite places in the country. I have a lot of close friends there and so I’ve been there a number of times. I’ve heard about the festival for years and now I finally get to go there and perform. It’s so funny since like I said, I normally don’t perform during the summer. I wait until my farming season ends at the end of September and perform through March. But I was able to get out on the road this year and one of the dates I look forward to most is the one in Sandpoint. I’m just hoping for a good crowd of people, who want to get out and enjoy live music in a beautiful setting.”

Fans should prepare for some vivid narratives by Isakov, who was a sucker for such songs since he was a kid. “I would be out skateboarding and I would have my punk songs but I would also have Counting Crows songs and Leonard Cohen songs. Those songs, great stories with lots of detail, moved me as a kid and they continue to move me at this point in my life.”

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