killdeer string band

The Killdeer String Band, from left, Jacob Gibbens (percussion), Jenny Humphrey (violin), Josh Humphrey (guitar), and Justin Gibbens (bass, electric guitar), will play on Ellensburg Radio’s Tiny Concert Series Thursday night at the 420 Building.

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They’ll come rolling into Thursday night’s performance on Ellensburg Radio’s Tiny Stage Concert Series with a couple of previous gigs in Leavenworth and Yakima under their belt, playing in support of a 13-song new release called “Wise Fools.”

The musical blend of Celtic, Irish, Romani gypsy with a nomadic flavor and a little free-flowing Turkish blend that is music of the Killdeer String Band will be on display upstairs in the loft at the 420 Building.

They will be the first four-piece band to play the re-established concert series. The first three performances featured solo acts. In May the streamed concert showcased a duo. The Killdeer String Band combines the musical talents of Jenny Humphrey (violin), Josh Humphrey (guitar), Justin Gibbens (bass, electric guitar) and Jacob Gibbens (percussion).

The signature high-energy delivery and the uniquely refreshing music of the four-piece instrumental acoustic Killdeer String Band has a way of setting the spirit free with a mix of original and traditional music.

Unlike American jam bands on an instrumental tear, the Killdeer String Band blends Jenny Humphrey’s Celtic fiddle and classical violin training with her husband, Josh’s, wide range of musical backing harmonies and counterpoint. Josh Humphrey’s background in Turkish oud and Hindustani classical music adds a dynamic flare with his guitar work. Justin and Jacob Gibbens drive the rhythm section.

“I think of my violin as the voice of the band since we don’t have singer,” Jenny Humphrey said. “We like to share the stage, but I’m getting more comfortable being out front like that. It was a slow process.”

Dealing with the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Killdeer String Band focused on recording and producing its second full-length release, “Wise Fools,” at Velvetone Studios with support from the Ellensburg Arts Commission.

The 13-song, 2021 release, created here in town was a far cry different from the 2017 first album recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, in that they had more time recording at Velvetone, did more takes to make sure they got what they wanted from each song before moving on.

“The new release features a lot more original music,” Josh said. “The first one only had three originals and the second one has seven or eight. The first album was recorded in a day. Each song was one take.

“With the second one being recorded in town, we really layered it more and added a couple of local (players) and a couple of rhythm guitars and more percussion.”

Look for the Kittitas Valley favorites to give a radio and taproom audiences a little taste of that new music when Ellensburg’s best background band takes center stage on the Tiny Stage on Thursday night.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at

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