Jesse Isley & Stephen Humphries @Watershed (Live Review)

Jesse Isley & Stephen Humphries
The Watershed
Saturday, July 10, 2010

The first indication that this might be a special show was the huge hammered dulcimer on stage. It was there for Stephen Humphries, who was accompanying Jesse Isley on this particular night just because he was in town for the week from Chattanooga, Tennessee and as Isley remarked from stage at one point, “When Stephen and I get together we don’t even ask how the other one is doing before we start playing music.”

Isley is a commanding presence all by himself on guitar, vocals, and songwriting, but in cahoots with Humphries he drew from a deeper source, one that allowed for goofiness (a cover of “Kiss The Girl” from The Little Mermaid) and some classical/jazz instrumental interludes that featured Humphries and Isley trading licks between dulcimer and acoustic guitar.

Isley’s a young songwriter but he’s drawing from all the right sources; covers sprinkled throughout the set included a spine-tingling “Wayfaring Stranger” and the Avett Brothers’ “Murder In the City,” which Isley introduced as “the most beautiful song ever written.” That chronologically handicapped opinion aside, Isley has written some beautiful tunes of his own, and with the dulcimer and percussion accompaniment from Humphries the songs came across even better.

the clips below include the first three songs of the set–a rousing acoustic instrumental workout and then the gospel-drenched “Church,” where Isley channels his inner Lyle Lovett into a Southern Baptist preacher’s altar call, followed by another original, “Jessica.”

Follow the related videos or go to my Youtube channel for the rest of the set.

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