Killdeer String Band Expands Lineup for Clymer Show on First Friday

by Madonna

Ellensburg’s cherished Killdeer String Band is set to grace the stage at the Clymer Museum/Gallery during December’s First Friday Art Walk, promising a captivating musical experience with an expanded lineup. Known for their distinct Celtic and gypsy violin, layered style, incorporating classical Turkish oud, and Hindustani influences, the addition of new musicians adds an exciting dimension to their performance.

The upcoming event, scheduled for December 2, will feature the introduction of two new members, violinist Stephanie Hsu and cellist Alex (AP) Pualani, both of whom teach in the YAMA string program in Yakima.


The Killdeer String Band has been a beloved act in the Pacific Northwest since its formation in 2015. However, this final First Friday of 2022 holds the promise of delivering an exceptional performance, ushering in the new year with a renewed sense of purpose and energy.


Bassist Justin Gibbens shared the anticipation for this special performance, saying, “We played as a six-piece with Stephanie and AP for the Treefort Music Fest in Boise back in the fall of 2021. We always felt like we need to do more of this, but it’s complicated with everybody living so spread out.”


The band’s musical arrangements are typically crafted by either Josh Humphrey or Justin Gibbens, allowing for a seamless musical experience. Stephanie Hsu’s and AP’s exceptional ability to adapt and play in real time, even without prior exposure to the songs, adds a thrilling element to their performance.

The Killdeer String Band’s distinctive sound is a fusion of Jenny Humphrey’s Celtic and gypsy violin, complemented by her husband, Josh Humphrey’s classical violin training, offering a wide spectrum of musical harmonies and counterpoints. Josh’s background in Turkish oud and Hindustani classical music adds a dynamic dimension to the band’s guitar work, while Justin (upright bass) and Jacob Gibbens (percussion) provide a solid rhythm foundation.

Stephanie Hsu’s recent addition to the band was met with excitement and appreciation, as her musical synergy with the group was evident during a performance on the Ellensburg Community Radio Tiny Stage show. This collaboration led to a remarkable showcase of musical virtuosity.

The band is gearing up to play in support of their 13-song new release, “Wise Fools (2021),” featuring tracks like “Super Orange/Crowbar,” “Kayak,” “Essaouira,” and “Hector the Hero.” They have been actively performing throughout the summer, with appearances in Leavenworth, Buskers in the Burg, and Boise, including a feature on “The Great American Folk Show,” hosted by Tom Brosseau.

This Clymer Museum/Gallery performance will be a unique opportunity for an Ellensburg audience to experience the band’s rich blend of original and traditional folk styles, spanning from Celtic to gypsy, Bavarian to bluegrass, and much more.


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