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"The 10 Best Bay Area Albums of 2020" by KQED Arts

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Ismay featured in the 2020 Fall Print Edition of

No Depression Magazine

Going Green Edition following release of debut LP

"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

"There's an innocence and mysticism to the tune as well as how the artist delivers it. In her music, Ismay is intent on emanating the tale of her coming into her own as a singer-songwriter through her revitalized passion for the natural world. She does so with an accomplished poise and grace without losing a strand of sincerity."

-- Pop Matters

"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

Off Shelf Magazine Editor's Top 10 Records of 2020 alongside Death Valley Girls, Guided by Voices and more

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Ismay’s songwriting connects deeply to the land. Melding the experience of taming wild horses, escaping wildfires, and birthing lambs with the mystical soundscape that nature inspires, Ismay has sharpened their musical craft over the last decade while living and working on their family ranch in Northern California. With Songs of Sonoma Mountain, their debut full length album recorded in the family barn and released in 2020, Ismay realized a contemplative vision blending field recordings and intricate melodies with live, inventive composition. In the wake of Songs of Sonoma Mountain, Ismay has developed the sound further, letting their singular melodies breathe, interact, and come to fruition through a full band groove with psychedelic color in upcoming releases. Ismay represents the collaborative work driven by singer-songwriter Avery Hellman, who grew 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.


Ismay was formed in 2015, and performs as both a solo artist, duo, and a full band, with a combination of electric fingerpicking guitar drums, bass, cello, and violin. Additionally, Ismay plays a unique set combining storytelling and songs, which will debut at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in October 2019. Ismay has appeared throughout the West Coast at music festivals such as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2016 and Strawberry Music Festival 2017; Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2021, and at renowned venues such as the Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, the Golden State Theater, and the Mystic Theater, and as an opening act for acclaimed artists including Steve Earle, Watchhouse/Mandolin Orange, Justin Townes Earle, Robert Earl Keen, John Doe, and Chuck Prophet. Ismay is based in the rural area outside of Petaluma, California, was born in Hong Kong, and was raised in San Francisco/Marin County California.

I Called You Up

Live Performance OneMic Video Series

The Lonely Stallion

Live Performance OneMic Video Series

Press Links

Ismay in Sonoma Magazine

Spring 2021 Print Edition

KQED Arts, 10 Best Bay Area Albums of 2020

No Depression Fall 2020 Print Edition, Going Green Issue--"Finding their Place"

American Songwriter Premier--Ismay Taps into Nature on “A Song in Praise of Sonoma Mountain,” Off Upcoming Debut

KQED Arts--10 Acts Not to Miss at Hardly Strictly 2019

Glide Magazine--Ismay Delivers Enchanting & Incisive Folk Beauty “100 Mile View From Virginia City”

Pop Matters --Ismay Draws Inspiration from Nature on New Song "Oh Precious Light" (premiere)

No Depression Ismay Announces 'Songs From A River' EP and Premieres the Track "River Of Light"

KQED Arts-- Bay Area Artists to Watch in 2018

- North Bay Bohemian — “Musical Boon”:
- Marin Independent-Journal — “Hardly Strictly Founder Warren Hellman Inspires Granddaughter”:
- North Bay Bohemian — “New West: Ismay Mixes Classic Bluegrass and Modern Folk”:

- Auburn Journal — “The Brothers Comatose Ride Into Town”:

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Kat Cook



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