Named after a town of 19 in the Northern Great Plains, Ismay represents the work of singer/songwriter Avery Hellman. Just as with the name, Ismay seeks to uncover ways in which the place we live changes us, and how the natural world provides deeper meaning. For Ismay, a life lived in rural California connects them with the landscape, providing a freedom to express gender identity, and the space to create music. Mystical lyricism, ethereal vocals, and dynamic fingerpicking on guitar are the defining features of their music. With works covering wild horses to wildfire, Ismay’s sound is unmistakably connected to the landscape in which they live.

Debut Full-length Record



"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."

-- Glide Magazine

"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."
-American Songwriter

Five years spent working and living on the family ranch informs Ismay’s debut full-length record, Songs of Sonoma Mountain. This album was recorded in a 100-year-old sheep barn at the ranch, seeking to immerse the listener in the world of Sonoma Mountain, and to evoke the sense that we aren’t as separate from nature as we may think. Co-produced by Robert Cheek (Engineer: Band of Horses, Chelsea Wolfe) and Avery Hellman, Songs of Sonoma Mountain features live vulnerable performances that bring out the character of the space. These songs tell stories from the perspective of the mountain, the animals upon it, and Ismay themself to examine gender identity, loss, and a search for belonging. The record interweaves field recordings with intricate songwriting and experimental production. Ismay has also compiled a series of narrative documentary stories about Sonoma Mountain to accompany the record, to debut as a podcast entitled Where the World Begins in March 2020


October 2, 2020

 In honor of Hazel Dickens who played at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass each year until her passing, I wanted to share this cover of her song Pretty Bird featuring Eli West

Hazel wrote of the song "I envied the little bird sitting on the high wire. It could fly away at any given moment and be free. So in 1972 I wrote this song"

I was able to watch Hazel perform while I was growing up attending the festival. What I think is most rem...

August 22, 2020

Can't believe it, but Ismay is in the fall issue of No Depression!

Its a fantastic publication, and if you want to get a copy of this issue, go to the link below, or you can subscribe to the quarterly journal like me!

This is all thanks to an amazing local music writer Jody Amable of The Bay Bridged which is an awesome  publication that really cares about our Bay Area...

July 27, 2020

A few months ago, I rode my horse Lu up the mountain to check on a pasture. There with the horse, I found comfort in the ways horses interact with the world, providing an escape from the ways I don't feel I fit in. Horses are in many ways an intermediary between people and the natural world, and therein lies the opportunity for us to learn from them...

Co-produced by Avery Hellman and Alexander Charles Adams

Sound design and mix...

April 30, 2020

Ever since our trip along the Klamath River, I've been dreaming of incorporating audio stories into the work that I share. And when I decided to do a record about Sonoma Mountain, I knew that launching a narrative podcast with stories from the mountain would be a wonderful way to share this place with others.

So, we have just launched a podcast entitled 'Where the World Begins; A podcast about Connection to Place'. Listen to t...

March 27, 2020

 We are so excited to share our second ever original stop motion film!

For many music lovers, songs can bring back a specific location, feeling, or memory as soon as the first few notes reach our ears. For Americana artist Ismay their debut LP, Songs of Sonoma Mountain, aims to do just that by evoking all the sights and sounds of the rural Californ...

March 16, 2020

We are sad to share that the March dates for our Songs of Sonoma Mountain tour are postponed (Mill Valley, El Portal) but please keep posted because we will be doing them eventually!

We are still standing by about the three dates in CO and MT and we will update the site as soon as we can

Everyone stay safe, and we hope to see you a bit farther down the trail!

March 10, 2020

I have thrown my Cowbirl hat in the ring for this year's NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest! Here's a bit about what this song means to me, we filmed it in our old sheep barn and we hope you enjoy it--

Cowbirl artist Ismay explores life in the rural American West, gender identity, and connection to place. While living and working on the family ranch for the past 5 years, they have found meaning in deep connection to the natural world,...

February 26, 2020

 Today is the day! It's taken over three years to make this project happen from start to finish, and we can't believe it's finally out! You can listen on your digital streaming platform of choice (just search Ismay Songs of Sonoma Mountain), you can order Vinyl or a CD, or even download it for yourself.

Truly though, the this record is about connection to place. I didn’t realize it until recently, but whenever I talk with peopl...

February 13, 2020

 Read the article and hear the exclusive track here

With just a week to go before our album comes out, we've got a premier out on Glide Magazine of our song entitled 'The 100 Mile View from Virginia City'

I was out in Virginia City Nevada, walking past a bar that boasted a “100 Mile View”. This idea intrigued me, and so I popped my head through the door, and there through a wide glass window behind the bar you could see the Neva...

February 5, 2020

We're goin' on tour! Join us across the west as we share Songs and Stories from Sonoma Mountain, go to our shows page for details

Felton Music Hall, Felton, CA......................MARCH 6TH
opening for Jeffrey Foucault

The Melon Ball, Davis, CA...........................MARCH 13TH
opening for Misner & Smith


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