There’s music you hear and there’s music you see, the best kind achieves both. ISMAY creates intimate folk/Americana songs that transport you straight to the land where they were written - deeply rooted in the heart of Sonoma Mountain. Melding the experience of taming wild horses, escaping wildfires, and birthing lambs with warm guitars and delicately graceful vocals, it is an original soundscape that is a delight to the ears as well as the imagination.
Driven by singer/songwriter Avery Hellman, ISMAY released their debut full length album Songs Of Sonoma Mountain in 2020, to widespread acclaim. It was named one of the 10 best Albums in the Bay Area and garnered features in American Songwriter, No Depression, Sonoma Magazine, and more. Blending field recordings and intricate melodies with live, guitar-based inventive composition, it is a proper introduction to the old-world charm of ISMAY.
In March of 2023, Ismay was featured as one of a select group of artists from around the world participating in the Apple TV+ Show My Kind of Country, produced by Kacey Musgraves and Reese Witherspoon.
Hellman’s musical talent is no surprise, growing up backstage at their grandfather’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, where they were inspired early on by artists such as Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, and Hazel Dickens. Since then, ISMAY has appeared throughout the West Coast at music festivals such as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Strawberry Music Festival, The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, The Lantern Tour, and at renowned venues such as the Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, the Golden State Theater, and the Mystic Theater. They have opened for acclaimed artists including Steve Earle, Watchhouse (fka Mandolin Orange), Justin Townes Earle, Robert Earl Keen, John Doe, and Chuck Prophet.
In search of a creative path, singer-songwriter ISMAY (Avery Hellman) sets off on a road trip of discovery, tracing the roots of music icon Lucinda Williams in this captivating documentary.
In Finding Lucinda, Avery Hellman embarks on a road trip across the southern United States, delving into the people and places that shaped Lucinda Williams' early career. The film showcases interviews with Charlie Sexton, Buddy Miller, Mary Gauthier, Josh Baca and Max Baca (Los Texmaniacs), John Grimaudo, and Wolf Stephenson. Through these conversations, the documentary sheds light on the profound impact Lucinda Williams had on music and how her artistry continues to resonate today.
New Single, 'I CALLED YOU UP'
Produced by Andrew Marlin (Watchhouse/Mandolin Orange) and recorded at Echo Mountain in Asheville NC, I Called You Up is Ismay's second single from their upcoming LP Desert Pavement.
"For me this song is about the changing dynamics in a parent-child relationship as each person ages. In the story, the 25 year old is trying to get in touch with the parent who is too busy for them, and the child realizes that their relationship has changed now that they’ve grown. They have to accept their new place in the world, as an adult who unbinds from their parents and relies on themself. It’s the first time I’ve really written a song in this style, and to me it shows the influence Lucinda Williams has had on my songwriting. I’ve been studying her work intensely for about 5 years and it’s totally influenced how I make music."
STRANGER IN THE BARN
out May 2nd
The first original music release from ISMAY in three years was Produced by Andrew Marlin (of Watchhouse/Mandolin Orange) and recorded at Echo Mountain Recording in Asheville NC.
"Stranger in the Barn" takes listeners on a journey with ISMAY down to their family barn--a place of familiarity and comfort where they encounter a stranger. The story is based on a real experience ISMAY had at their family's ranch, but the song is an allegorical journey into the nature of encountering the unknown with compassion and empathy. In ISMAY's own words, "The story is about taking down our walls, and rather than meeting the unknown with contempt and anger, instead offering curiosity."
ISMAY's Debut Full-length Record:
SONGS OF SONOMA MOUNTAIN
"An enchanting composition that reflects the storybook wistfulness of Aldous Harding and Weyes Blood. ISMAY helps usher in an era of mystical folk that is both incisive and playful and somewhat mysterious."
"Every song weaved around the sights, sounds, and feel of the surrounding land and guided gently by ISMAY's meticulous guitar and delicately captivating vocals."